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Mark Olly is a Cheshire writer and archaeologist who runs the Celtic Warrington Project Archaeological Unit. You can read about Mark's work in the 'Celtic Warrington & Other Mysteries' volumes.

 

 

 

CHADKIRK - THE CHURCH OF ST. CHAD OF THE MERSEY
by
Mark Olly

 
History of the Church

 
The church building at Chadkirk near Marple in Old Cheshire is well deserving of a visit by anyone interested in Cheshire and Mersey Valley Celtic history. Chadkirk is first recorded in Domesday as 'CEDDE' and local tradition says that a monastic cell was founded here by St. Chad during his service to the church from 669 AD to 672 AD. The chapel itself was first recorded in the fourteenth century (1300-1400 AD) when there is a mention of a "Chaplain de Chaddkyrke" in 1347 AD. Then it was owned by the Davenport family from 1381 AD to 1548 AD when it escaped the 'suppression of the chantries' as it was proven to be a private family chapel.  Below: Chadkirk in Cheshire
 

Chadkirk
 
From church to cow shed
 
Inside Chadkirk It is from this period that the oldest surviving structures in the building date being the black and white Tudor north and east walls of the chancel and the roof trusses. After this date the building declined until William Webb recorded it in 1621 AD with the words "At the foot of Werneth Low, towards the Merzey, lies an old dearn and deavly chapel, so people call desert places out of company and resort; called Chad Chapel, where seems to have been some Monkish cell". So bad was the decay that it may have been used as a cow shed during this period ! The chapel was then "raised out of its ruins in 1747" according to an old sign over the door, the bell is inscribed "1750 God be with us all" and the rest of the building dates from this quite recent point onwards. Sadly excavations in 1994 failed to locate any evidence of a Saxon chapel but building and grave digging may have removed all early traces and, in plan, it does resemble other known Anglo Saxon churches. Above: Inside Chadkirk
 
Celtic significance

  
Chadkirk altarThe Celtic significance of St. Chad existing at this middle point between the Goyt and Mersey should not be underestimated as he is the 'patron saint of medicinal wells and springs' and points the way to such 'sacred Celtic waters' up the Goyt valley, proving further that the Goyt was regarded as the source for the Mersey in ancient times. Besides this there is also St. Chad's Holy Well nearby, with the usual traditions of miraculous cures associated with such wells, and his concentrated evangelisation of the Mersey and surrounding areas which would have inevitably brought him into direct contact with the very ancient sites and legends associated with the area in the seventh century (600 AD to 700 AD). He would have used these associations with great sympathy in his dealings with the 'old religions' and their sites. Above: Chadkirk altar
   


 
ARTICLE ADAPTED FROM: CELTIC WARRINGTON & OTHER MYSTERIES -
VOLUME TWO: EAST TO SOUTH. MARK OLLY. CHURNET VALLEY BOOKS,
43 Bath Street, Leek, Staffs. (01538) 399033.

 
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