Take a walk through medieval Warburton, Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 13:12 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 07:44 25 May 2020
Cheshire Life’s history man James Balme walks into the mists of time in Warburton, and discovers the time-capsule church of St Werburgh
On a steep embankment shaded by archaic yew trees in the quiet backwater of Warburton village stands an ancient structure associated with worship and prayer since as far back as the 11th century. This wonderful piece of history, known as St Werburgh’s old church, was once home to an order of Norbertine canons, which established a priory here around 1187AD.
After passing the medieval village cross complete with wooden stocks, I arrived at the church and was greeted by what can only be described as a living timecapsule – a place of exquisite beauty and a historical atmosphere to fire the imagination. This church and the graveyard, which has stood here for almost a thousand years has borne witness to endless baptisms, marriages and burials and brings history to life. A wander around the graveyard soon began to tell a story of generations past.
There is no doubt that the village of Warburton has its roots firmly entrenched in the early medieval period. A further clue to the ancient past of St Werburgh’s comes with a field close by, named Abbey Croft, and in the 19th century three medieval stone coffins, most likely from the priory, were found 10 metres from the church. Inside the church itself you can still find one of these medieval coffins on display as well as the archaic stone font inscribed with the name William Drinkwater and the date of 1603. The chancel has a wonderful hexagonal pulpit dated to around 1600AD and carrying conventional designs of the Elizabethan period.
St Werburgh’s is one of just 12 ancient timber framed churches to survive in Cheshire and Southern Lancashire. The old church holds few services although it remains consecrated and church is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and public access to view the church is usually possible via a keyholder who lives nearby.
My film, The Church of St Werburgh, shot at Warburton takes you inside the church and can be viewed for free by visiting my channel, youtube.com/Tvpresenter4history
Look out for
The medieval stone cross and wooden stocks
The medieval stone coffin
The carved stone font dated 1603
The hexagonal carved pulpit dated 1600