St. Lawrence, Over Peover
Over Peover is sometimes called Peover Superior. Sir Peter Leicester in his Historical Antiquities of 1673, states that the church was a daughter chapel to Rostherne. He believed that it was built in the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) but did not find any monuments earlier than the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461). The tower was built of brick in 1739 and the nave and chancel were rebuilt in brick by William Turner in 1811. The two Mainwaring chapels, built of stone, were preserved. In the South Chapel there are alabaster effigies of Randle Mainwaring and his wife, Margery. He died in 1456 and it is possible that the chapel was built either by Randle or by his widow. Margery was the daughter of Hugh Venables, Baron of Kinderton. He rests on the head of an ass, the family crest.
The North Chapel was built in 1648 by Ellen the widow of Philip Mainwaring to house his monument. Ellen, who was the daughter of Edward Minshull of Stoke near Nantwich lived until 1656. In the Chapel are the effigies of Philip Mainwaring and his wife. He is in plate armour and died in 1647 while his wife lived until 1656. The couple had eight sons and one daughter. Nearby is the tomb of John Mainwaring in mail armour; he died in 1410. There are two incised alabaster monumental slabs in the North Chapel as shown in my photographs. The earliest, shown above on the left, depicts John Mainwaring, Knight, who died in 1515 and his wife Katherine who died in 1529. At the base are listed 13 sons and two daughters. The second alabaster panel depicts Philip Mainwaring, who died in 1573, and his wife Anne, the daughter of Sir Ralph Leycester. Three children are listed below and named as Ro'dull, Edmo'de and Elyzabe. The apostrophes signify missing letter n so in we have Randle, Edmund and Elizabeth in modern spelling.
The incumbents of St. Lawrence have been recorded since 1556.
To the left of the path leading to the church door is a sad gravestone in the form of a cross that records the murder of a young man aged 19 in 1873. He was said to be killed during the course of his duty and may have been a gamekeeper. The memorial reads as follows and beneath is a twelve line verse that appears to have been written specifically for the occasion.
"Sacred to the Memory of Arthur Barnard who died January 13 1873, aged 19 years from a gunshot wound by an unmerciful hand whilst in the execution of his duty in higher Peover Woods."
Near the entrance to the church is an unusual sun-dial which records in an inscription above the clock faces the latitude and longitude of a shipwreck in December 1717.
Peover Hall was open to the public on Monday afternoons from May to September in 2001. I was fortunate to visit again on 7 August 2014 and on this occasion the church was also open allowing me to take the interior shots shown above. There is a small pamphlet available for visitors to the house and a reprint of an article from The Field magazine of 1985 by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.
The Mainwarings held this manor from the time of the Norman Conquest. The current house was built by Sir Randle Mainwaring in 1585 and had a Georgian extension built by Sir Henry Mainwaring, the last male heir. Following the change of ownership to Thomas Wettenhall, who took the name of Mainwaring in 1797, the house continued in that family until 1919. It was then sold to John Peel, the son of a Manchester cotton merchant who sold it in 1940 to Mr. Harry Brooks, a furniture manufacturer. During the war it was requisitioned for army use and became the headquarters for General Patton prior to D-Day. It was not released again to its owner until 1950 by which time it was in a poor condition. The 18th century wing was demolished in 1964 and a new facade erected to match the Elizabethan brickwork. This is shown at the extreme right of my picture from the East.
There is a well-known picture by Van Dyck of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, with Sir Philip Mainwaring, painted about 1639/40. Sir Philip (1589 - 1661) was a younger brother of Sir Randle (the younger) at Peover. Sir Randle died in 1632 and his eldest son, also a Philip, died in 1647. The original picture was on display at the Van Dyck Exhibition at the Royal Academy in the late 1990s; it was loaned by the trustees of the Rt. Hon. Olive, Countess Fitzwilliam. A copy can be seen at Weston Park, the former home of the Earls of Bradford, and a further copy is at Peover Hall. It was commissioned by the sitter, Thomas Wentworth, created Baron Wentworth of Wentworth Woodhouse in July 1628, Viscount Wentworth in December 1628, Baron Raby and Earl of Strafford in 1640. He was beheaded in 1641 following impeachment by Parliament for his handling of affairs in Ireland. Charles I might have saved him but sacrificed him to his enemies in an attempt to save his own position. Sir Philip Mainwaring described as being Strafford's private secretary, was in effect Strafford's Secretary of State for Ireland. He was knighted in 1636.