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Parish Church Macclesfield

Macclesfield is set on a hill with a gentle descent to the west towards the Cheshire plain but a very steep descent to the north and the east to the valley of the Bollin. St. Michael's Church was founded by Queen Eleanor (Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward 1) on 25 January 1279 when Macclesfield was a royal borough with a castle and hunting forest roughly 12 miles by 8 in extent. The town had a guild but not a church or chapel of its own. The arms of Castille are to be found over the main church entrance. Edward I granted Eleanor the manor of Macclesfield in 1283. Her forester or bailiff was Thomas of Macclesfield and his house was known as Macclesfield Castle, hence Castle Street in the town. The building was not a grand fortification in the style of Edward's Welsh castles but a more modest residence. It lay to the east of Mill Street roughly opposite the entrance to Castle Street. On Eleanor's death death in 1290, Edward I took over her lands. Edward was the Earl of Chester from 1239. From the Norman Conquest there had been seven Earls of Chester who governed the county with a high degree of autonomy. The last was John de Scotia, 9th Earl of Huntingdon who succeeded because he was the nephew of the previous Earl, Ralph de Blondeville. John de Scotia died childless in 1237. After his death, the honour of Chester was bought from the heiresses by Henry III, who gave it to his son Edward.

The church was originally a chapel of ease for the mother church of St. Peter's in Prestbury and was under the Abbey of St. Werburgh in Chester. The church was dedicated to All Saints but changed to St. Michael, probably in the 18th century. The mediaeval church was rebuilt in Classical style between 1739 and 1740 with the exception of the Savage and Legh chapels. In 1819 the east end of the church was rebuilt. The church was extensively rebuilt in the Perpendicular style by Sir Arthur Blomfield, between 1898 and 1901 with the exception of the Savage and Legh Chapels and part of the chancel. The oldest parts of the church are the Savage Chapel (1502-7) to the south of the chancel and the Legh Chapel (1432), lying south of the nave. The porch on the south side of the church is of three storeys and priests formerly lived above the entrance.. The tower, rebuilt in the Victorian restoration, incorporates some carved fragments from the mediaeval church.

 

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Taken on April 20, 2012