St Peter's - Development History
On 7th September 2013 His Honour Judge David Turner QC, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Chester, approved a Faculty to enable construction of an annex to St Peter's Church. This is urgently required to meet the current and future needs of the congregation at this church.
We are a strong church but are sadly lacking in the most basic ancillary facilities. We have an historically important worship space but no toilets, kitchen, or meeting, teaching and socialising spaces for our large congregation of adults and children.
It is now possible to provide these ancillary facilities in the best possible way, in an annex attached directly to the church.
This is just one more stage in a continual sequence of changes to the church and other buildings in Prestbury churchyard over more than 800 years, that has been driven by the growth and changing worship and social requirements in this village (see blue panel).
The full text of the Consistory Court Judgement is available.
Recognition and protection of heritage assets
In the 1960's the historical importance of St Peter's church and other buildings in its curtilage were recognised by being registered on the UK Governments "Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest".
The church was listed as Grade 1 and the Norman Chapel, Lychgate and a sundial were all listed as Grade 2. In the 1980's the Hearse House was also listed Grade 2.
The consequences of this are that listed buildings may not be demolished, extended, or altered without special permission from the local planning authority in consultation with English Heritage and other heritage bodies.
The church also has to submit its proposed development plans as a Faculty Application to be approved by the Diocese of Chester.
Changing church needs in the 20th century
As long ago as the early 1960's the then Vicar of St Peter's and his Parochial Church Council (PCC) recognised the need for ancillary facilities.
In the mid 1960's a large Victorian house (Ford House) across the road from St Peter's church and next to the River Bollin was purchased by the PCC. With some modifications this provided the church with urgently needed community space (3 modest meeting rooms, a kitchen and a disabled toilet on the ground floor, a Parish Office, choir room, toilets and other small rooms on the first floor, and a larger meeting room in a first floor Edwardian extension.
An ever evolving building:
c10th century - Saxon presence is suggested by fragments of two Saxon stone crosses uncovered within the walls of the chancel of St Peter's in 1840
c1190 - The Norman Chapel constructed, possibly on the site of a wooden Saxon church
1220 - 1230 - Chancel and nave of St Peter's constructed by the monks of the Abbey of St Werburg
1310 - Church extended by the addition of a south aisle and the first north aisle
1350 - Tytherington Chantry Chapel added to the south aisle
c1480 - Tower and south porch constructed
16th century - Clerestory and bell-cot added
1637 - Ringers gallery added to the tower as an organ loft
1711-1712 - Gallery added to the west end of the church. It was accessed by external staircases either side of the bell tower but the gallery and staircases were later removed
1715 - Lychgate constructed in the south churchyard wall
1728 - Lychgate moved to its present position and the first Hearse House constructed
1741-1742 - North aisle rebuilt with five round arched windows
1747 - Norman Chapel had fallen into disrepair and was rebuilt by Sir William Meridith as a family burial chapel
1852 - The first Hearse House was demolished and replaced by the present Hearse House
1879-1885 - Sir George Gilbert Scott oversaw a general restoration of the church which involved further demolition and rebuilding of a larger north aisle and some rebuilding of parts of the vestry, chancel and south aisle
The condition of Ford House, when purchased, was not good and over the subsequent 40 years repairs to its fabric (especially the roof) was a continuous drain on church finances. Although there were some lettings and a small levy on church and village user groups, most of the upkeep costs were met from sacrificial giving by the church congregation and repair work/decorating was done as economically as possible, including work directly by members of the church.
However, the funding priority was always for maintenance of the 'listed' church buildings where there is a statutory process (Quinquennial Inspections) to identify defects and ensure appropriate remedial work is carried out. There is no financial support from the Diocese for this maintenance.
Between 1965 to 2006 Ford House provided the church with very useful space for the Church Office, Sunday School, Church Choirs, PCC and organisations such as Mothers Union and church youth groups including Cyfa and Pathfinders.
St Nicolas's Youth Fellowship
In the 1970's St Peters was very successful at attracting young people to St Nicholas's Youth Fellowship. This church youth group was sponsored by the Vicar and PCC and led by church members. It was involved in church services at St Peter's and had social meetings in Ford House. The age group was 13 to 18 years, it was open to all, but church attenders had priority.
By 1978 numbers attending the Youth Fellowship were approaching 200 and there was insufficient room within Ford House so it was proposed to build a youth extension with a coffee bar, kitchen and toilets. Plans were drawn up for St Peter's PCC (freeholder of the property) and planning permission was obtained. A Government Job Creation scheme contributed construction manpower and the local Borough Council provided an interest free loan to the PCC with Ford House as security. There was also some fund raising.
The new Youth Club extension was opened in 1982 with 120 senior members and a new junior membership (11-14 years) of 70. These groups were functioning well in 1989 but in the early 1990s there was increasing difficulty finding adults in the Parish to lead the Senior Youth Club. "County Youth Leaders" took over for a while but the club was eventually suspended. The Junior Youth Club formed a new Committee and continued to meet in the Youth extension to Ford House which was owned by the PCC.
Ford House in the 21st century
In the early 2000s Ford House continued to be used by a wide range of church groups and there were a few private hirings, but maintenance with limited funds remained a major challenge.