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St Mary, Ellesmere, Shropshire

(52°54′26″N, 2°53′20″W)
SJ 403 348
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Shropshire
now Shropshire
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • Barbara Zeitler
  • Ron Baxter
  • Barbara Zeitler
  • Ron Baxter
13 April 2001 (BZ), 23 August 2023 (RB)

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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 the 13thc. the patrons of the church were the Knights of St John of Jerusalem.


Exterior Features


Interior Features



Both the N transept doorway and the E respond of the nave arcade are of c.1200. The S transept doorway capitals are unusual: the basket capital is a Roman type (seen in Apamea, Roman Syria) so there is a slight chance that the form was copied from something at Uriconium (Wroxeter). Romanesque comparisons might be made with a capital in the S cloister walk of Chester cathedral or with the basketweave font stopper at Kilpeck.


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.