Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bowdon

Edit profile
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bowdon
The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bowdon is in the village of Bowdon near Altrincham, Greater Manchester, England ( grid reference SJ758868 ). It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Macclesfield and the deanery of Bowdon. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner describes it as a "very grand, prosperous building".

The presence of a church on the site was noted in the Domesday Book. It is likely that a new church was built in the 14th century and remodelled in the 16th century. The church was completely rebuilt between 1858 and 1860 by W. H. Brakspear, although the 16th century roofs of the aisles were retained and incorporated into the new structure.


The church is built in pink sandstone with a slate roof. Its plan consists of a west tower, a six- bay nave with clerestory, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, and a chancel with an organ loft and vestry on the north side, and a chapel on the south. The tower is in four stages and has diagonal buttresses, ornate clock faces, four-light belfry openings, gargoyles, and its top is castellated. The aisles and clerestory are also castellated. The transepts have corner pinnacles.

The 16th century roofs of the aisles are camber beam in type and are elaborately carved with bosses and coats of arms. The nave roof is hammerbeam in type. In the north transept is an altar table from the early 18th century and a chest dated 1635. The sanctuary chairs are Jacobean and a 15th century octagonal font has been placed in the north aisle. In the medieval church there were many tombs, and some of these have been included in the present church. The oldest are a pair of damaged reclining effigies in the north transept, one of which is of Sir William Baguley who died in about 1320. Also in the north transept is the Brereton monument, with recumbent effigies of William Brereton who died in 1630 and his wife Jane, under a canopy. On the side of the tomb are kneeling figures of their seven children. In the chapel are two memorials by André Carpentière. One is to Henry Booth, 1st Earl of Warrington who died in 1694, his wife Mary and their family, which includes figures of Wisdom and Vanity. The other is to Langham Booth who died in 1724, and to Henry Booth who died in 1727. A mural tablet to the Asshetons is by Richard Westmacott. In the north transept is a collection of loose carved stones some of which are from the Norman period. In the church is stained glass by Kempe and by Clutterbuck. The pulpit, dating from around 1910, is by Temple Moore. The three- manual organ was built in 1875 and minor alterations were made to it in 1960 by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd. The silver communion plate includes an alms dish dated 1705”“06 and chalices, patens and flagons dated 1775”“76. The parish registers begin in 1628. The ring is of eight bells, cast in 1964 by Taylor & Co.

External features
In the churchyard are three structures that have been designated as Grade II listed buildings. One is a sandstone sundial post of uncertain date, which consists of an octagonal shaft on a square base. There is a sandstone war memorial dating from around 1920 by Arthur Hennings. The third structure consists of the piers, railings and walls surrounding the churchyard.