St Wilfrid's Church, Grappenhall

Edit profile
St Wilfrid's Church, Grappenhall

St Wilfrid's Church, Grappenhall, is in Church Lane, Grappenhall, a village near Warrington, Cheshire, England. It has been 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 Great Budworth.


The church is Norman in origin, built probably in the earlier part of the 12th century and completed about 1120. This was a small and simple church, consisting of a nave, chancel and, possibly, an apse. The foundations of this church were discovered during the 1873–74 restoration.

A chantry chapel was added by the Boydell family in 1334 in a position where the south aisle now stands. From 1529 the church was largely rebuilt in local sandstone. The old church was demolished and a new nave, chancel, north aisle and a west tower were built. In 1539 the south aisle was added, which incorporated the Boydell chapel. The south porch was added in 1641 and at this time the west wall was strengthened. In 1833 the roof of the nave was raised to form a clerestory and in the 1850s the south aisle was further extended, and a vestry was built. There was a more substantial restoration in 1873–74 carried out by Paley and Austin.


The church is built in red sandstone with a slate roof. Its plan consists of a west tower, a continuous nave and chancel of seven bays with a clerestory, north and south aisles, a chapel at the east end of the south aisle, a vestry and a south porch. The tower is in three stages, with a Tudor west door, and a four-light west window. It has diagonal west buttresses and square east buttresses. In the middle stage are small windows, above which are clock faces and bell openings. On the summit is a crenellated parapet. The tower is about 76 feet (23 m) high. The chancel east window is in Perpendicular style. The east window in the north aisle (formerly in the chancel) has five lights. The clerestory windows are paired and round-arched. Included in the internal fabric of the wall of the south aisle is a remnant of a Norman corbel table decorated with crudely carved human heads.


Built into the east wall of the north aisle are a piscina and a credence table. Inside the church are a holy table dated 1641, and the royal coat of arms of Queen Anne. In the chancel is an effigy of Sir William Boydell, who died in 1275. This was brought in from the churchyard in 1874 and restored. The reredos is carved in oak and is based on the painting of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. The font dates from Norman era, or earlier, and was rediscovered in March 1873 during the restoration of the church.

A window in the south aisle includes 14th-century glass which was rearranged in 1834 and depicts seven saints. Other windows in the aisle were made by Meyer of Munich. There are fragments of medieval glass elsewhere in the church. The ring consists of eight bells. Four of these were cast by Henry Bagley II of Chacombe around 1700. A further bell dates from 1890 by John Taylor & Co, while the remaining three were cast in 1899 by Mears & Stainbank at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The parish registers date from 1573.

External features

Outside the church, immediately below the west window is a carving of a cat and it is suggested that this might be the origin of the Cheshire cat. In the churchyard is a sundial dated 1714 which is listed Grade II. At the entrance to the churchyard, also listed Grade II are stocks, the endstones probably dating from the 17th century.

Live at St Wilfrid's

A series of concerts of classical music entitled Live at St Wilfrid's is hosted by the church, and includes performances by both young artistes and by performers with international reputations.