Brief History of St James' Church

Research has shown that the church's origins are Saxon, as the very name Cristetone by which the village was known in the Doomsday Book of 1086, suggests the existence of a Christian settlement at that time.There is also good evidence that a church has been on the site since Norman times and a document dated 1093 recorded that patronage was granted to the monks of St. Werburgh in Chester. The original church which was probably constructed of wood was re-built in stone about 1490, the tower of which stands to this day. The tower was used as look-out post during the Civil War (1644-1646) and although the tower survived intact, the church suffered considerable damage as did much of the village during this period. Whilst the damage was repaired it was eventually decided about 1730 to replace both the nave and chancel. However, probably due to lack of funds, the rebuilding was of a poor standard and during a Sunday service in 1873 the roof partially collapsed covering some of the congregation in snow.  Canon Lionel Garnett, the Rector at the time, arranged for plans to be drawn up for a new church. The plans were prepared by William Butterworth who was one of the leading ecclesiastical architects of the time. Fortunately the architect dissuaded the village from demolishing the church and tower and building a completely new church. Instead the tower was retained with the addition of a gargoyle at each corner and a spired turret. The outer walls of the nave were built using red sandstone from the Duke of Westminster's Waverton quarry so as to blend with the tower. The same stone was employed for the interior walls, but in many places the architect created a chessboard effect by alternating it in cubed patterns with a creamy-white sandstone from a different quarry. The church contains many items of historic interest including: wardens' benches fitted with canopies to protect against draughts; the font which has been cut from Sicilian marble and fossil-rich Derbyshire limestone; a wooden carving of a pelican tearing open her breast to feed her young with her own blood; Royal Coat of Arms (1665) painted on oak boards, the work of Randle Holme 111; old village constable's staff; Jacobean altar table and alms basin dated 1549.
Extracts compiled from CHRISTLETON  - The History of a Cheshire Village, Published by Local History Group 1979 Herald Printers (Whitchurch)Ltd.,  Whitchurch, Shropshire by kind permission of  Frank A. Latham, Research Organiser and Editor.

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