Cheshire Life history man James Balme visits Prestbury
PUBLISHED: 09:00 02 September 2020
The Cheshire village of Prestbury is full of architectural gems
It was a warm summer afternoon when I strolled into Prestbury with its archaic sandstone church surrounded by an assortment of timber-framed Tudor buildings. This picturesque village lies just one and a half miles outside of Macclesfield and is considered one of the most affluent locations in Cheshire, if not England.
Prestbury can also be proud of its wealthy origins. The well-preserved Tudor architecture, and the Norman chapel that stands in St Peter’s Churchyard, are some of the finest to be seen.
The name Prestbury is derived from Preôsta Burh, meaning priests’ fortified enclosure. The chapel was built in the 12th century by the monks of the abbey of St Werburgh. Following the demolition of an earlier Saxon church they began to construct St Peter’s church, and over the centuries the church was extended many times.
The chapel has a beautiful Norman doorway, above which is carved a richly decorated tympanum with an image thought to be that of King Richard the Lionheart. The chapel served as a place of worship until after the Magna Carta and the deaths of King John and Pope Innocent III in 1216. Inside, the chapel can be found a magnificent Saxon stone cross that has recently undergone restoration and preservation work.
Looking directly across the road from the church, stands the half-timbered building known as the Priest’s House. Constructed circa 1580, it was the vicarage before being re-used for other purposes throughout the centuries. Above the doorway is a gallery where once a village parson preached to the assembled villagers. Folklore says a secret passage ran between the church and the Priest’s House.
Another notable historical building on the main road is Prestbury Hall, built by the wealthy Sutton family, and dating back to the early 15th century. The hall was restored during the 18th century.
The Prestbury we see today is an eclectic mix of timber-framed buildings, restaurants and historical pubs as well as many independent businesses offering their services, but scratch below the surface and you will find a rich history dating back as far as the 12th century.
Things to look out for:
The timber-framed Priest’s House
Saxon Stone Cross housed in the chapel
Norman Chapel and carved tympanum doorway
Ancient stone coffin near the church entrance of St Peter’s
This year, St Peter’s Church is celebrating its 800th anniversary. u
My film, The Church of St Peter, shot at Prestbury, can be viewed for free with many other local history films by visiting my channel, youtube.com/Tvpresenter4history