Knutsford, Cheshire – St John

Staying in Cheshire for a few days. On Friday 6 March Alex and I drove to Knutsford, so I could find a bank. We then walked down to St John’s church – website. The church is at one end of the High Street, surrounded by the busyness of the town, and the churchyard was beautiful.

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We walked down the main path – which is made of the headstones. I find it so sad when headstones are reduced to this – I know how angry I’d feel if, even in 300 years time, someone took Gareth’s and Theo’s headstones and put them in a path. It is also sad that eventually the lovely lettering will wear away – yes, I know nothing lasts for ever.

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The church was built in 1744, in the Georgian style, designed by the architect John Garlive. It is Grade II listed, and the tower contains eight bells. The church noticeboard had promised a Coffee Morning, but the door on the south side was locked, the door into the tower at the west end was locked – we eventually came into the church centre. Left for coffee, but we wanted to go into the church – we eventually found the way in. The chap we spoke to was struggling to understand we wanted the church, not coffee.

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We walked into the church proper to find a large empty space. Everything in the nave was missing, just a smooth new floor. A very nice floor, and probably an improvement of rows of Victorian pews, with piles of stacking/folding chairs at the back.

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The chandelier in the centre is quite magnificent – it was a gift of John Hall in 1763, and the website says they light the 24 candles for the Carol Service.

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The Chancel is Victorian, but the woodwork is high quality. Television screens folded back, an organ of 1882 (with various rebuilding), and everything that comes from having a worship band. The pulpit is used for a loudspeaker.

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The Memorial Chapel on the south side is panelled in old oak which the website says came from Tabley Old Hall and commemorates the fallen of two world wars. There is a plaque dedicated to the men of the 1st Parachute Battalion, No 2 (Para) Commandos and the SAS Battalion who trained in the area during World War 2. During 1943 the Rotary and Inner Wheel of Knutsford ‘adopted’ HMS Wren, a ship in the 2nd Escort Group escorting Atlantic and Russian convoys, and with the help of the town provided comforts for the crew, thus starting a lasting relationship with the town. The ship’s bell was presented to the church and the HMS Wren Association Standard laid up for safe keeping on the disbanding of the Association in April 2010. The brass lectern is made from shell cases from World War 1, brought from Flanders and presented to the church by Rev ‘Tubby’ Clayton of Toc H fame. He lived for a time at the Test School in the 1920s. This was housed in the disused gaol building behind the Sessions House, and was for men to test their vocation to the ministry.

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Font of  1741.

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There are a couple of nice stained glass windows – John the Baptist and Moses.

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We went and found a café that was full of bicycles and railway signs.

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