Cheshire CPRE Churches Walks - Exploring our history, architecture and rural traditions
Harvest Walkers enjoy mists and mellow fruitfulness
Our CPRE Harvest Churches Walk on 14th October 2007 began at the Chapel of St Nicholas at Cholmondeley Castle, where we heard the history of the chapel and estate, and learned more about the management of the modern estate, including the brand new ‘Cholmondeley Local Foods Hub’.
A chapel was first recorded on this site in the 13th century, but the medieval building suffered damage during the Civil War, and its beautiful interior harmoniously combines elements from several different periods, representing centuries of worship and workmanship, as the building evolved to meet changing needs and tastes.
We then set off along the Sandstone Trail, enjoying the glorious countryside in one of the few remaining areas of undisturbed countryside Cheshire still has to offer. Yet at times even here, we could hear the traffic from distant roads carried across many miles.
After an excellent buffet lunch in the historic Blue Bell Inn at Tushingham, walkers set off refreshed to visit Old Chad chapel ‘alone in the fields’, with its unusual Hearse House still housing a nineteenth century hearse.
The only access to the chapel is over the fields, and although the present building dates from the late 1600s, there has been a chapel on this site since at least 1349. There was a wealth of history to take in, but we were especially fascinated by the shoe, found under the floor in 1859: a wonderfully preserved ‘time capsule’ from the previous restoration in 1689.
Walkers were delighted to be able to spend a little time in the tranquil churchyard, admiring the beautiful views from its elevated position.
The final stage of the walk was a short stroll to ‘new’ St Chad’s, just off the main road, where those who chose to were able to recall the rural traditions of harvest-tide, by taking part in a short service of Harvest Thanksgiving, celebrated by Rev John Whitehead, who organised the day.
Despite a slight haze, which merely added to the scenic quality, the weather remained fine all day. In keeping with the harvest theme, we were able to appreciate the autumn colours, and the abundance of berries in the hedgerows.
Look out for news of our next Churches Walk, which will take place in Spring 2008.