St James' Church, Christleton

St James' Church, Christleton, is in the village of Christleton, Cheshire, England. The church 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 Chester and the deanery of Chester. It is the only Cheshire church designed by William Butterfield. The architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner quotes Goodhart-Rendel who considered that "this is an exceptionally interesting church".

History

The name of the village is recorded in the Domesday Book and it is likely that a church was on the site at this time. In 1093 the patronage of the church was given to the monks of St Werburgh's Abbey, Chester. The church was rebuilt in stone around 1490, and the tower built at this time is still present. The church sustained considerable damage during the Civil War and around 1730 the nave and chancel were repaired. However during a service in 1873 the roof of the nave partly collapsed. Plans for rebuilding the church were prepared by Butterfield, retaining the 15th-century tower, adding gargoyles to each corner and a short spire to the turret. The rebuilding took place between 1875 and 1877.

Architecture
Exterior

The church is built in ashlar red and white sandstone with a green slate roof. Its plan consists of a nave and chancel in one range with a clerestory, north and south aisles, a south porch, side chapels to the chancel, and a west tower. The tower is in two stages with diagonal buttresses and a stair turret at the southeast angle. It has a three-light west window. The bell openings have two lights and are louvred. The parapets are embattled and have gargoyles. On top of the tower is a shingled pyramidal cap.

Interior

The interior is decorated with red and white sandstone with a chequerboard pattern added in the upper portion. Between the nave and the chancel is a wrought iron screen with a tympanum above it. In the chancel is a large alabaster reredos having panels filled with mosaic. The west window dated 1877 is by Gibbs and much of the other stained glass is by Kempe and is dated between 1884 and 1904. A large painted panel of the royal arms dated 1665 is by Randle Holme III. The font is made from Sicilian marble on a Derbyshire limestone base. The churchwardens' benches have canopies. The altar table is Jacobean. Also in the church is a carving of a pelican feeding her young with her own blood, and an old village constable's staff. The two-manual organ was built by Holdich, and rebuilt around 1990 by Rushworth and Dreaper. The ring is of eight bells cast in 1928 by John Taylor and Company.

External features

In the churchyard is an ashlar red sandstone sundial from the mid-late 18th century, and the headstone of William Huggins and members of his family dated 1884. Both of these are listed Grade II. Also listed Grade II is the lych gate which was designed by Butterfield and is built from ashlar red sandstone and timber framing with a Welsh slate roof and a red tile ridge.