St Mary, Ellesmere, Shropshire

Feature Sets (3)


Ellesmere is a small market town in the NW of the county, less than 3 miles S of the border with the Welsh county of Denbigh. The town is immediately W of The Mere - one of the largest glacial meres in the country outside the Lake District. The church stands close to this lake at the E end of the town. It has a 19thc. nave. The N nave arcade incorporates remains of the late 12thc. arcade. Crossing tower 13thc., Perpendicular top. N transept doorway c.1200, decorated with sculpture. 14thc. chancel and S chapel. The church was extensively rebuilt and restored by George Gilbert Scott in 1849, further restoration work being caried out in 1881, 1889 and 1900.


The manor was held by Earl Edwin before the Conquest, and by Roger Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury in 1086. It was assessed at 4½ hides and the inhabitants included 60 recorded inhabitants (implying a large settlement of perhaps 300 overall) and two priests (suggesting a church). In fact the church is an Anglo-Saxon foundation. In the 13thc. the patrons were the Knights of St John of Jerusalem.


Exterior Features


(i) N transept doorway

Pointed, two orders



Door h. 2.28 m
Door w. 1.52 m
L capital, h. with necking 0.22 m
L capital, h. without necking 0.17 m
L capital, max. w., N face c.0.24 m
L capital, max. w., W face c.0.21 m
R capital, h. with necking 0.20 m
R capital, h. without necking 0.17 m
R capital, max. w., E face c.0.19 m
R capital, max. w., N face c.0.21 m
First order

Continuous with a heavy angle roll delineated by a groove.

Second order

Engaged nook shafts with no surviving bases, carrying rounded block capitals as follows:

L: basket capital with lozenge pattern, heavily eroded at NW angle. Thin, convex impost. Nookshaft consisting of five pieces, two lower ones of yellow sandstone, three upper ones of red sandstone.

R: plain basket capital. Impost composed of three convex superimposed rings. Nookshaft cinsisting of five pieces, lowermost piece of yellow sandstone, the four upper pieces of red sandstone.

In the arch, three rolls separated by deep hollows. Chamfered label. Label stops in the shape of curling stiff-leaf.

Interior Features



N arcade, E respond

Only the E respond of the N arcade is 12thc. It is an engaged half-column with a plain hollow chamfered bell to the capital, below a tall plain abacus. The impost is hollow chamfered with a deep horizontal grove at lower end of the face.


Both the N transept doorway and the E respond of the nave arcade are of c.1200.


  • Anon, The Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ellesmere, n.d.

  • D. H. S. Cranage, An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire...: illustrated from photographs by M. J. Harding; with ground plans of the most important churches drawn by W. A. Webb, 2 vols, Wellington: Hobson & Co., 1901-12, vol. II, pt. 9, 749-55.

  • R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire, vol X, 232-50.

  • J. Newman and N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Shropshire, New Haven and London, 2006, 262-4.

  • N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Shropshire, Harmondsworth 1958, 127-8.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SJ 403 348 
now: Shropshire
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Shropshire
now: Lichfield
medieval: Lichfield (to 1075); Chester (to c.1086); Coventry and Lichfield (to 1541)
now: St Mary
medieval: St Mary (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Barbara Zeitler 
Visit Date
13 April 2001