Bowdon Church is today surrounded by a paved area
made up from the headstones of the very many graves in the churchyard.
The position of the stones does not necessarily reflect
the siting of the actual grave as the churchyard was
levelled and enclosed by a wall and railings in 1860.
These memorials have, in recent years, been very carefully
cleaned and recorded by a member of the church and compared
with the information in the parish registers, providing researchers
with a wealth of invaluable genealogical material.
The Saxon Church had been restored in 1100, 1320 and 1570 but
the old church had fallen into irreparable decay when it was
taken down in 1858.
The ground was enclosed before pulling down the old church and
a new foundation stone was then laid.
The restoration, rebuilding and enlarging of St. Mary's was
undertaken under the direction of W. H. Brakespear, a London
architect, and many of the characteristics of the old church
were preserved. Internally, for example, the timbers of the
old tie-beam roof of the nave were re-used in the hammer-beamed
arched principal roof. The ceremony to consecrate the restored
church was performed by the Bishop of Chester in September
Further nineteenth century alterations took place in 1888 when
the Ven. Archdeacon Gore, vicar, and Messrs. Samuel Howard,
Henry Simpson, Frederick George Whittall, and William Archibald
Napier, wardens of the parish of Bowdon, applied for permission
to move the 'Brereton' Monument to approximately its old position
in the north transept and also to cover over some ancient vaults
or graves with concrete as a new vestry was needed.
Ten members of the Brereton family had been buried in the Carrington
Chapel at Bowdon between 1570 to 1660.
The inscriptions of the other tombs were to be recorded in
the Episcopol Register. However, the last internement in one
of them was as recent as 1885.
My personal interest (web mistress) in Bowdon is because the
names of my Hard[e]y, Calderbank, Pickstone and Timperley
ancestors crop up in the church registers. The Hardeys, for
example, were at Dunham Massey (Sinderland) and Ashley, whereas
the Timperleys at were Oldfield.
||As part of the 1858-1860 rebuilding of
Bowdon Church the old tower was demolished
down to the belfry window, about 46 feet above the ground,
and then rebuilt to include pinnacles 17 feet 6 inches
high. The new total height was 95 feet, some 14 feet higher
than the earlier tower.
Below is a partial extract about Bowdon from Balshaw's Directory
BOWDON OR BOWDEN parish comprises the chapelries of Altrincham and
Carrington, and the townships of Agden (part of), Ashley, Baguley,
Bollington (part of.), Bowdon, Dunham-Massey, Hale, Partington, and
This township may take its name from two Anglo-Saxon words, Bode a
dwelling or abode, and Don or Dun a plain upon
a rising hill, or a down, so that Bowdon means a town or dwelling
on the downs ; or as in Doomsday Book, the name is written Boge-don,
it may denote a down or hill by a bog; and towards Ashley
there did exist, what Leycester calls, "a great bog, " not
to mention Hale Moss.
BOWDON, township and populous village, is pleasantly situated on high
ground, 7¾ miles, N. by E. from Knutsford, 1 mile S. E. from
Altrincham, and 9 miles S. from Manchester. The township contains
828A. 0R. 26P. of land; the population was in 1801, 340; in 1831,
458; in 1841,549 ; and in 1851, 1164. The vicarial tithes are commuted
for £33 10s., and the rectorial for £95 10s. The church
and principal part of the village stand on the highest part of an
eminence commanding delightful views of the vale of the Bollin to
the south, including Alderley Edge, Cloud End, Mow Cop, and the more
distant bills of Derbyshire and even Shropshire to the east; Rostherne
and Knutsford to the South; and the Parks of Dunham close in the prospect
to the west; and to the north the view is extensive over the vale
of the Mersey towards the Lancashire hills. From the church tower,
Manchester and Stockport are visible in that direction.
Hammon de Massey, the first baron of Dunham-Massey, held Bowdon
in the time of William the Conqueror, under Hugh Lupus, Earl
of Chester. It subsequently became divided, and Roger Massey
sold a moiety of it for £4 7s. in money, and two robes
one for himself and one for his wife, rendering annually 1lb.
cummin seed at the feast of St Martin. In 1666, Lord Delamere
possessed one-fourth of Bowdon ; the Breretons of Ashley another
fourth; and the other half, which the baron had given to the
priory of Birkenhead about Edward I., at the dissolution of
religious houses, was given (1541) to the then created Bishopric
of Chester, with the Church of Bowdon. There was a Church
here at the Doomsday survey , which records that here is "a
Priest and Church, to which pertaineth a half a hide of land." At
the Doomsday survey there was also a mill at Bowdon. Dr. Ormerod
adds that the estates of Lord Delamere, in time descended
to the Earl of Stamford. The estate of Birkenhead priory, granted
to the Bishopric of Chester, is held on lease, with the rectory,
by Lord Stamford, and the present owner of Ashley, Wilbraham
Egerton, Esq. who possesses lands there which formerly belonged
to the Breretons. The manor is part of the barony of Dunham
Massey, and is included in the barony leet. The delightful
situation of Bowdon and the proverbial salubrity of the air,
has caused great numbers of neat villa residences to be erected
by the merchants of Manchester. The houses have a remarkable
light, clean and elegant appearance; many of them are erected
of a light yellow kind of brick, others are stuccoed, and
some are built of the red brick, most of which have sprung
up within the last ten years. The Earl of Stamford has brought
a quantity of land into the market for building purposes,
which, together with the increased facilities of communication
with Manchester, in consequence of the opening of the Railway,
has given a great impetous to building and added greatly to
the prosperity and importance of Bowdon.
BOWDON CHURCH, a fine old structure, is dedicated to St. Mary, the
Blessed Virgin, whose "wakes" or dedication feast was celebrated
on the 8th of September, being the nativity of the Virgin ; they are
now held on the first Sunday after the full moon succeeding the 14th
of September. It consists of a tower, containing a peal of six musical
bells, a nave, chancel and side aisles, terminating in two private
chancels, appropriated to the Earl of Stamford's manors of Dunham
Massey and Carrington. In the nave are various monuments.
The exterior is of Runcorn red sandstone and stone from
Lymm was used in the interior.
The small hut in the foreground is a night watchman's hut,
introduced to deter grave robbers
from snatching the bodies of the newly interred deceased
for use in anatomical research