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the south arcade, which seems to be the older of the two. The nave is almost entirely of that Debased Perpendicular style, which dates from the Jacobean period, and an attempt was made to follow Gothic forms which were then obsolete. The general arrangement of the plan would lead one to suppose that the outer walls of the chancel were also of this date, but it is difficult to speak with any certainty.
The fine oak-panelled roof and the two benches, which are all that are left of the nave seating, are probably of the same date as the rest of the nave and these are quite Rennaissance in feeling.
Whether the north arcade is much later than the south or not, it is still difficult to account for the apparently eccentric variety in detail in the two arcades (see drawing). On the south side the capitals are Perpendicular in character, although much Debased, and the mouldings, as well as the carving, are very rude. The north capitals are much more accurately cut, but are less like any possible Gothic work. The pillars on the north side are much smaller than the south, and are of two different sections (see drawing). The arch mouldings are very similar (the great round member, about one foot in diameter, being substituted for two smaller ones on the south side). The heads of the clerestory windows are varied north and south. The springing line of all the arches in the nave is considerably below the capitals.
The chapels, which seem to be coeval with the nave, are in the hands of private owners. That in the south transept, formerly I think dedicated to St. Katherine, is the Warburton Chapel, the family pew used to occupy the upper part of this as a gallery, but it has now been taken down. On the floor is a marble effigy of one of the Warburtons, probably Sir John Warburton, who died in
1575. The north transept, which used to be the Lady Chapel, is now the Burial Chapel of the Leycesters of Tabley, the Smith Barrys of Marbury, and the Brookes of Mere. At the east end of the south chancel aisle is the Warburton Burial Chapel.
Early in the present century the oak roofs of the aisles were taken down (apparently for no sufficient reason) and replaced by common pine rafters. About the same time the oak benches of the nave and the choir stalls, with miserere seats, were removed and dispersed. A couple of benches and part of the stalls have been rescued, and are preserved in the Warburton Chapel. There is also preserved in this chapel the original stone altar slab, which was found during recent restoration. The font is a good example of Perpendicular work; it is octagonal and richly carved.
The whitewash has been scraped off the walls of the chancel, revealing the natural stone; but the nave is still deeply covered with whitewash, which accentuates the poverty of the mouldings, and would give a dreary appearance to any church, however good its architecture.
The south-west porch is now disused, or, rather, used only as a lamp-room; a new doorway has been opened out on the north side instead.
At first sight the church looks rather earlier in character than it really is. This is accounted for by the fact that nearly the whole of the original lower windows have been taken out and replaced by modern ones of a more ornate appearance. Probably the original windows of the aisles were all similar to the west window of the Warburton Chapel (see drawing).
It is impossible to date, with any degree of accuracy, such a building as Great Budworth Church without documentary evidence. Much of what I have said this
evening is, I fear, of the nature of guesswork, as in this instance such evidence is limited. A few benefactors have, however, made such specific bequests as will throw some light on the subject. For instance, Margaret Starkey, whose will was proved in 1526, says: “I bequeath to Budworth Steeple xx3 and towards buying the Bells of the said steeple xx? Also I giff towards making of Budworth Steeple, and towards buying of the Bells, my best gown." Her husband also, Hugh Starkey of Oulton, left money for the same object.
Richard Starkey, who directed that he should be buried in the chancel, whose will was proved about the same time as the last mentioned, bequeathed "towards making of the Rood Seler* at Budworth, vjs viijd;" "to the yle of the said church, vjs viijd;” “to bye leyde for the said yle, vjs viijd" He mentions aisle in the singular as if one only was at that time in need of repair.
Laurence Dutton also, about the same time, left five marks for "the reparacon of the Parish Church of Budworth and towards the buying of ornaments thereunto.”
The parish accounts preserved in the church do not date back further than the middle of last century, so that beyond such entries as payment for whitewashing, little was to be found affecting the fabric of the church.
* Seler, or celure, was carved work in relief, also a canopy or ceiling, so here would refer to the rood loft.