HistoricalLast edited by webmaster on 21 January 2012 - 12:11am
Interior of St. Luke's in natural light - photo 2005 courtesy of Craig Thornber in a Scrapbook of Cheshire
The church stands on a knoll by a junction of roads. These roads, or tracks, would have been important since ancient times as a means of crossing the rivers Dane and Croco.
A Saxon church may once have stood on this site. However the history of the church can be traced back to around 1245 when the Abbot of Dieulaces granted a licence to hold services in the chapel at Church Hulme to the Abbot of St. Werbergh’s Abbey, Chester. It was a chapel of ease for the mother church at Sandbach and enabled local inhabitants to hold baptisms, marriages and burials and to worship regularly without the necessity of travelling to Sandbach.
The original church was probably a simple wooden structure. Around 1430, it was extended to become a black-and-white half-timbered building with a red Cheshire sandstone tower. The roof was of scalloped oak, supported by eight wooden pillars. The Needham family of Cranage supplied some of the funds. The Winnington family of the Hermitage may have provided money for the chapel on the south side, as they claimed it for their use.
The church used to have at least two stained glass windows, memorials to members of the Needham family, in the north aisle. These were intact until about 1640 when they were probably destroyed during the Civil War. The tower bears bullet marks at its base, resulting from a skirmish in the village in 1643.
In 1702, Thomas Hall, ironmaster, purchased the Hermitage. He made major changes to the structure of the church. The half-timbered walls were removed and replaced with local brick, leaving only the original eight pillars. The mediaeval roof was hidden behind three arched plaster ceilings to retain warmth in the unheated church. In 1705, galleries were incorporated on the south and west sides. Thomas Hall also donated the central brass chandelier, surmounted by a wooden dove, in 1708. Five of the seven bells date from 1706 and the remaining two from 1858.
The present church clock was installed in 1841. In 1878, the Church Council decided to replace the old oak box pews with pine pews, but they retained the box pews in the gallery. They also arranged for the installation of central heating.
The east window was re-glazed with stained glass in memory of the villagers who died during the First World War of 1914 – 1918. In 1935, the plaster ceiling above the nave was removed to uncover the mediaeval roof. The people of Holmes Chapel donated a stained glass window in the north aisle in 1948 in memory of the local doctor, Lionel Picton.
The current church hall replaced a wood and corrugated iron structure, which stood in Westmorland Terrace, in 1985. In 1991, the Church Council decided to replace the pinnacles for the third time in the church’s history, restoring the tower to its original appearance.
- For a more detailed architectural description of the church which is now a Grade I Listed Building see the British Listed Buildings website entry here