St Mary's Church, Eccleston

St Mary's Church, Eccleston, is in the village of Eccleston, Cheshire, England, on the estate of the Duke of Westminster south of Chester. The church is designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Chester and the deanery of Chester. Its benefice is combined with that of St Mary, Pulford.


There was a medieval church on the site which was entirely rebuilt in 1809 by William Porden for Earl Grosvenor. A chancel was added in 1853. This was replaced by the present church in 1899, designed by G. F. Bodley for the 1st Duke of Westminster at a cost of £40,000 (£3.34 million today).


The church is built in red ashlar sandstone. Its plan consists of a west tower, a continuous six-bay nave, a chancel with a clerestory, north and south aisles, and north and south porches. A long vestry block projects to the north. The tower has long bell-openings, irregular buttresses and an embattled top. Canopied niches above the south door contain statues. The church is considered to be an example of Bodley's mature style anticipating features of Liverpool Cathedral.


Nikolaus Pevsner was impressed by the furnishings of the church, in particular the reredoses by Farmer and Brindley, the chancel screens, the organ case and the bench ends. All the stained glass is by Burlison and Grylls. The font is made from Thessaly marble, and has a lifting oak cover decorated with the carvings of eight saints. In the baptistry is part of a memorial to the Grosvenor family dated 1624 that has been moved from the old church. The east end of the south aisle is occupied by the Grosvenor Chapel. Above its altar are the carved figures of Jesus, Saint Augustine and Saint Paulinus. In the church is a monument to the memory of the 1st Duke of Westminster dated 1901, which consists of a tomb-chest and canopy designed by Bodley with an effigy by Farmer and Brindley, sculpted by Leon Joseph Chavalliaud. Opposite on the south wall is a bronze bust to the 2nd Duke. Elsewhere in the church are memorials to the 4th Duke, and to Captain Hugh William Grosvenor, who was killed in the First World War. The organ was built in 1899 by Gray & Davison. It was modified around 1910 by Henry Poyser and further modified in 1984. The ring consists of eight bells which were cast by John Taylor & Co in 1899.

External features

The churchyard has an avenue of lime trees. The gates date from the early 18th century. They were made by the Davies Bros., and were originally at Emral Hall, Flintshire. In the northeast part of the old churchyard is a fragment of Porden's former church on the site which was retained as a picturesque feature. This consists of a sandstone wall with the lower parts of two windows measuring about 60 feet (18 m) long by 18 feet (5 m) high. It has been designated as a Grade II listed building. Also listed Grade II are the walls and gates between the old churchyard and Old Church Lane.