Churchwardens at St Peter's
Churchwardens have been elected at St Peter’s Church since at least the reign of Elizabeth I. Church archives show that in 1558 (the year of her accession to the throne of England) £42-0-11½d was levied from 27 townships within the Parish of Prestbury and was given to the churchwardens for the maintenance of St Peter’s Church. From 1560 onwards there are a number of churchwardens accounts showing how they paid for church maintenance and staff such as the Parish Clerk, Verger and Sexton. Since 1671 the two pews on either side of the west door have been reserved for 'the churchwardens and their successors forever’. Churchwardens oversaw the introduction of pews to the church nave in 1707, heating stoves in 1816 and many other changes up to the present day.
The current practice of appointing 4 churchwardens dates from at least the mid-18th century. Now two women and two men are elected on a 4 year cycle so there is election of one new and three existing churchwardens at the Annual Church Meeting each spring, and each churchwarden serves for a maximum of four years.
Although the responsibility of modern churchwardens includes an overview of church maintenance and finances the role is much wider than this. Appointed as representatives of the Bishop they have a duty to represent the laity and co-operate with the incumbent. They are expected to lead the parishioners by setting a good example and encouraging unity and peace, with a particular duty to 'maintain order and peace in the church and churchyard at all times'.
(An in depth history of St Peter’s Church with many references to the churchwardens is contained in the book “St Peter’s Prestbury – A personal response” by GB Hindle, available from the Parish Office)
I was brought up in an atheist household but went to a Methodist school. I married a Christian wife (Meriel) and was baptised and confirmed in my late 20s in London. My work there was as a children's doctor and we moved to Adlington when I became a professor of paediatrics at the University of Manchester in 1981. The challenges of looking after sick children could have, for me, quite a spiritual element.
Later I became dean of the medical school in Manchester and, from 1996 to 2003, did the same job at St George's medical School in south-west London but commuted home at weekends. After 2003 I continued to have some advisory and trustee functions but have been mainly retired since 2010. Our children attended Poynton County High School and we usually went to St George’s Poynton. More recently, Meriel and I have come regularly to St Peter’s, usually to the eight-thirty service -- our house is actually in the parish of Prestbury. We have been made very welcome there and it is a considerable honour as well as a challenge to have been asked to become churchwarden.
We have three children and six grandchildren some of whom come to St Peter’s with us when visiting. Two of the grandchildren have special needs – life thus continues to throw surprises, challenges and learning opportunities.
Richard Raymond: Appointed 2014
Sheila Andrews: Appointed 2015
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With my father and his two brothers all ordained priests, I was born in Shropshire into a thoroughly clerical family but trained as a Chartered Surveyor, working for over 40 years in various local authority, private sector and industry roles and, over the past 4 years, as a consultant.
In 2012, I moved to within about 5 metres of the Parish boundary with my wife Tracy and son Alex, now 7. With two adult sons and now three grandsons, I am a full time dad and grandad.
I was very surprised and honoured to be asked to take on wardenship at St Peter's – it is a great privilege to be asked to serve and one which I relish and am enjoying