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Prestbury Norman Chapel, Prestbury, Cheshire

(53°17′20″N, 2°8′59″W)
Prestbury Norman Chapel, Prestbury
SJ 901 769
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cheshire
now Cheshire East
medieval St Peter
  • Ron Baxter
29 April 2004

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Feature Sets

The chapel stands in the churchyard of St Peter's, Prestbury, to the SE of the church. It is a simple two-cell stone building dating in its present form from 1747, in which year it was restored by Sir William Meredith of Henbury. It incorporates on its west facade 12thc. sculpture in the form of a doorway and a row of figures above, but the rest of the building is 18thc. work. The original chapel is assumed to have been built as the parish church in the 12thc., and when its successor, the present parish church, was begun in the 1220s or 1230s, it was retained as an oratory. By 1592, when it was sketched by Randle Holmes, it was ruinous and roofless. An inscription on the W gable records the restoration of 1747 in exchange for which the Merediths were granted rights of burial inside it.


The manor is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, however the discovery of an Anglo-Saxon cross-shaft reused in the chancel masonry of the 13thc. church suggests the presence of a pre-Conquest church here. By 1153 the manor was in the possession of the Earls of Chester, and in that year Earl Hugh Kyvelioc conferred manor and church to the monks of St Werburgh, Chester.


Exterior Features


Exterior Decoration

String courses
Corbel tables, corbels

Moir's identification of the figures has been described above. It should be added that he goes on to read the suite as if it were hieroglyphic as follows, 'In the name of the Blessed Trinity, this church dedicated to St Peter, was built by the abbot and monks of St Werburg in the reign of Richard I, when Randle Blundeville was Earl of Chester.' On his identification of one of the figures as Richard I rests the dating of 1190-99 for the foundation, which the present author cannot accept. The figure style provides little help here, but the simple capital and base forms and the arch decoration of the doorway fit more happily into the second quarter of the 12thc.


N. Pevsner and E. Hubbard, The Buildings of England. Cheshire. Harmondsworth 1971 (repr. 1978), 315-16.

C. Keyser, A list of Norman Tympana and Lintels. London 1904 (2nd ed. 1927), 42-43.

D. W. Moir, Prestbury and its Ancient Church (Church Guide). Und. (post-1981), 6-10.

R. Richards, Old Cheshire Churches. London 1947, 280-85.