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St Mary, Bruera, Cheshire

(53°8′22″N, 2°50′29″W)
SJ 438 606
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cheshire
now Cheshire West and Chester
  • Ron Baxter

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Bruera is in SW Cheshire, 4 miles S of the centre of Chester. It is a manor house village consisting only of the church, a moated site immediately to the NW and a few scattered houses nearby. There are traces of ridge-and-furrow cultivation in the surrounding fields.

St Mary's has a 12thc. nave with a shingled W bell-turret, added by W. M. Boden in a restoration of 1896, described by Richards as a "wanton and unnecessarily severe rebuilding of much of the church". There is a 15thc. S chapel off the nave, containing tombs of the Cunliffe family. The chancel has been largely rebuilt, but the S respond of the chancel arch is original with elaborately carved capitals and beakhead on the embrasure. There is a modern vestry on the S side of the chancel. The church contains other Romanesque or earlier material, all re-set. The S nave doorway has chevron voussoirs set above its pointed opening, and two 11thc.-12thc. carved stones on the jamb. Inside, around the rere-arch are a number of panels crudely carved with simple foliage designs, and similar panels are re-set in the interior S nave wall. They may be pre-Conquest. The church is constructed of red sandstone.


Bruera is not recorded in the Domesday Survey. The first mention of the church is in the Cartulary of St Werburgh's, c.1150, when it was given to St Werburgh's by Robert Dapifer, having previously been held from the monks by Robert's father. It was a chapel in the parish of St Oswald's, Chester until 1868, and in medieval references it is 'Capella de Bruera'.


Exterior Features


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Interior Decoration





Richards argues that it is a 10c building, remodelled in the 12thc. and again in the 14thc. The style of the sculpture, coarse or bold according to taste, suggests an early date, but the presence of beakhead on the chancel arch embrasure suggests that it must postdate c.1130, and it could even be contemporary with its acquisition by St Werburgh's around 1150.


N. Pevsner and E. Hubbard, The Buildings of England. Cheshire, Harmondsworth 1971 (repr. 1978), 118.

R. Richards, Old Cheshire Churches, London 1947, 70-74.