Dedicated to an obscure Saxon Saint, the Church is one of the oldest and most beautiful parish churches in the North of England. It is the centrepiece of a picturesque village set in rural Cheshire. Its patrons, the Crewe family, have worshipped and been buried here for nearly four centuries, while the Duchy of Lancaster is the chief landowner. It was the scene of the Royalist atrocity, the massacre of Barthomley, in 1643.
The church building, seated firmly on a Neolithic barrow & drumlin, is built of mellow red sandstone in the local rustic perpendicular style of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There are traces of earlier structures; a stoned-up Norman doorway and thirteenth century wall with scratch dial and outline of a former entrance. The nave is majestic with clerestory and carved oaken ceiling, a renowned masterpiece. The side aisles are equally impressive and the tower contains eight bells whose chimes are heard regularly and often during the year. The stained glass is the work of Clayton & Bell, Shrigley & Hunt and Pilkingtons. The Crewe Chapel contains fine funereal monuments ranging from a medieval recumbent knight to a Pre-Raphaelite ‘sleeping’ female figure of great beauty. The Church building is very worthy of it’s Grade 1 designation, which was awarded in 1967, and attracts many visitors each year.
The congregation is regular and fills the nave each Sunday. There is a newly installed Makin Digital Organ and an impressive and thriving choir whose beautiful voices can be heard leading the hymns and psalms during the services. The Sunday School meets most weeks, joining the congregation for the Eucharist, final prayers and hymn. The whole atmosphere is friendly, welcoming and relaxed, while retaining dignity and purpose. Coffee and biscuits are served after morning services and a social atmosphere is very much in evidence. There are around thirty weddings and regular baptisms celebrated here throughout the year.
We have recently completed the second stage in an extensive restoration project, and hope to start the final stage in the very near future. Any donations to help us in our efforts to completely restore this beautiful church would be very gratefully received.
Not so long ago, you may have seen men hanging from ropes on every face of the church tower. They were carrying out an initial survey of the tower stonework, as the first step in planning the third stage of our restoration scheme at St Bertoline’s. The S and N sides are now complete, and paid for!
It will be some time before the tower work begins, probably not until late 2014. We have funded stages one and two from our own resources, but we now start on the drawn out task of seeking grant aid from such bodies as English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and that is a long process.