St Andrew's Church, Bebington

St Andrew's Church, Bebington is in the town of Bebington, Wirral, England. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. The architectural historian Raymond Richards considers it to be the finest old parish church in Wirral. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Chester and the deanery of Wirral North.

History

A church built from local Storeton sandstone was present before the Norman Conquest. Some of the stones from this church are still present in the south wall of the present church. A priest in Bebington was recorded in the Domesday Book. The Saxon church was later replaced by a Norman church. Building of the tower started in 1300 and was completed around 50 years later. The church was remodelled in the 14th century, the south aisle was widened and a three-bay chancel was built. In the 16th century rebuilding started at the east end in Perpendicular style. The chancel and chapels were built but the scheme was interrupted by the Reformation. In 1847 the church was reordered and the north arcade was built in Norman style. More recently the church has been modernised by re-siting the rood screen, removing the choirstalls, installing a kitchen and toilets and creating a crèche and meeting room in the tower.

Architecture
Structure

The church is built in sandstone. Its plan consists of a four bay nave which widens to the east, aisles to the north and south, a three bay chancel with north and south chapels, and a tower protruding from the southwest corner. There is a contrast of styles between the chancel and the chapels, which are Perpendicular in style, and the nave, which is mainly Early Decorated. Part of the south arcade survives from the Norman church and the north arcade is a copy of this. The tower has deep buttresses, the western two of which are diagonal. On the northern side is a rectangular stair turret. On the west face is a window of two lights and at the second stage is a lancet window. The two-light bell openings are louvred. At the summit is a splay spire with lucarnes. From masons' marks, the lower parts of the tower date from the very early 14th century while the "ringing loft" dates from the middle of that century. The door to the outside of the tower was blocked in the 18th century, when a new door was cut within the church, but was re-opened in 1847. The tower had been rebuilt in 1805 after being struck by lightning. The last work of any significance was carried out in 1905.

Fittings and furniture

The font is circular but its date is uncertain. The stalls include three seats with misericords depicting a dolphin, a bearded face and a pelican. Four stalls end with poppy-heads. The screens and the reredos in the south chapel are by C. E. Deacon. Stained glass in the north transept is by William Wailes and is dated 1855; that in the south transept is to a design by Henry Holiday for Powell's and is dated 1881 and 1886. The parish chest dates from the early 16th century. The parish registers begin in 1558 and the churchwardens' accounts in 1774. The ring is of eight bells all of which were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Five bells dated 1845 were by Charles and George Mears and the other three, dated 1907, were by Mears and Stainbank. The two-manual organ is by Henry Willis & Sons, which replaced an earlier organ of 1885 by E. Franklin Lloyd.

External features

In the churchyard is a sandstone sundial dated possibly 1764. It consists of a chamfered shaft with octagonal cap, on top of which is a brass plate and gnomon. It is listed Grade II.

Present activities

The church holds traditional Anglican services on Sundays, arranges various events during the week, and supports a number of groups.

Building Activity

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