About St Mary’s Church Nether Alderley
St. Mary’s Church is a picturesque and active 14th century Anglican parish in the village of Nether Aldereley, Cheshire, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List and is a designated Grade I listed building.
History of St. Mary’s Church, Nether Alderley
St. Mary’s Church was built in the 14th century in the place of what was likely a 13th century timber-framed church. It was built in the Gothic style, with later revisions from the 15th to the 18th century expanding it substantially in both size and grandeur.
The church has historically been associated with the aristocratic Stanley family of Alderley, who lent their patronage to the church from the 18th century onwards. Some of the church’s most admirable features include a tower, the ‘Stanley Pew’, a 14th-century font, the musician’s gallery, and monuments to the various Lord Stanleys of Alderley.
The church has served and continues to serve as a hub for the village of Alderley, alongside the adjacent Elizabethan schoolhouse, providing education, a cemetery, and a place of worship for the village’s residents.
At the entrance to the church is a beautiful Elizabethan sandstone former school, which was built in 1628 upon what was likely an ancient Court House. The school educated the boys of the parish in basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, and is reputed to be mentioned in ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ by Charles Dickens.
It was known that there was a vault beneath the church containing the remains of some members of the Stanley family, but it was not located until 2007, when an architect lifted a stone slab and discovered a staircase that descended into the crypt.
In the churchyard are a medieval church cross, the Stanley Mausoleum, the churchyard walls, gate piers and gates, all of which are Grade II listed. A yew tree in the church courtyard is an incredible 1,200 years old.
St. Mary’s Church, Nether Alderley today
Though a popular heritage tourist site, St. Mary’s is keen to emphasise that it remains a ‘living church’, with the busy parish holding four services every Sunday. It is possible to have a tour around the church and its grounds where you can see the intricacies of the ancient bells and clock. The site is open for guided tours every Sunday from Easter to September, and can be arranged on the website.
Nearby sites include the famous Nether Alderley Mill, which was active from the 14th century right up until 1939. At the Mill you can witness the water wheel and mill working as it would have for hundreds of years.
Getting to St. Mary’s Church, Nether Alderley
Manchester is the closest major city to St. Mary’s Church. The church can be reached in around 40 minutes along the A34. There’s also a regular train from Manchester Piccadilly to Alderley Edge, from where you can connect to the 130 Sapphire bus which will lead you directly to the church.