A Brief History of Great Budworth Church

The earliest reference to the worshipping community at Great Budworth appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 where we are told of the presence of a priest and so can infer a worshipping community and probably a church building.

Of these early days we can only catch glimpses through “the mists of time” but one point is clear, the Pre-Reformation history of the church is dominated by the Augustinian Canons of Norton Priory, Runcorn.

The Canons were given the church and living of Great Budworth in 1130 by William Fitz Nigel, Constable of Chester. Later they received the gift of a third of all the land in the township of Great Budworth from   Geoffrey De Dutton, to add to the already substantial holdings of land they had been given by local people, keen to save their souls and those of their loved ones by endowing the Canons in return for burials and perpetual prayers, a common practice in the middle ages.

The Canons created the present church and dominated both the religious and economic life of the township. The oldest part of the church, the Lady Chapel, dates from the fourteenth century and most of the rest from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries showing that the Canons were very active in keeping the church not only in a good state of preservation, but also in continuing to beautify and modernise it.

With the Reformation of the sixteenth century, the highly decorated church of the Augustinian Canons was transformed, and by 1600 it had become a white-washed preaching hall from which a. series of Puritan ministers would, throughout the seventeenth century, preach the Gospel and convert the parish from a religious conservatism to a radical Protestantism.

The eighteenth century was to see the parish settle into a period of calm as the old, fiery Protestantism mellowed into an acceptance of Anglicanism’s broad church. This stability was reinforced by the fact that only three long serving ministers held the living during that century.

In the nineteenth century the church was to find a major benefactor in Rowland E.E.Warburton of Arley who inspired and oversaw the restoration of the church in the 1850′s, rediscovering the medieval glory of the building and encouraging the return of a more Anglo-Catholic style of worship.

Recent times have seen the life of the church in the parish continuing as in previous centuries: the round of services, the care for the church building, its congregation and the community. However, let us not forget that at the heart of the history of Great Budworth Church is more than two thousand years of Christian endeavour and witness and that this, of course, is an unfinished story.

Leave a Reply