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            The Parish Church of St. Mary,

           Penwortham

                                                                   The Chancel


Essentially, the chancel keeps its 14th century shape and materials.  The walls are of gritstone, patched with red sandstone.  The latter crumbles easily, and where the external east and west wall has been patched with such stone it needed refacing with reconstituted stone in 1971.


On the south side are two 14 century windows with trefoil lights, and at the east end of the north wall a similar window. But at the west end of this wall  is an odd window with a flat arch improvised from foliated fragments.


Over the Priest’s door on the south exterior of the Chancel is a red sandstone block with the inscription;


                                             “I A F 1653”


The initials, presumably of John and Anne Fleetwood, together with the year in which they caused the Chancel to be repaired, in accordance with one of the conditions agreed to when the family leased the Penwortham property from Evesham Abbey in 1539.  With the Fleetwoods as lay rectors, responsible for the repair of the chancel, largely governing  the church and occupying relatively opulent box pews inside the chancel, it came about that the small door in the Chancel, over which John Fleetwood had put his initial, came to be called the Squire’s Door instead of the more correct designation “Priest’s Door”. The door is now blocked, having remained unused for about a century, although the old wooden door has been kept intact in the boiler room and store

The Chancel rood is ancient of framed spars; it was covered with blue slates in 1855-6. Baines describes its internal appearance as semi-circular. Probably in his time the roof timbers supported laths and plaster, giving a semi-circular ceiling.  The laths and plaster were removed from the ceiling in 1855-6 and in 1884 the plaster was chipped from the walls and the floor was tiled.  1884 also saw the acquisition of two large rolled metal,plaques bearing the Lord’s Prayer, Creed and Ten Commandments. These were fixed to the east wall on either side of the Altar (the fixings can still be sen; in 1971 they were reposing in the Clock Room of the Tower.


By 1884 the  two canopied balustraded box pews had been removed from the west end of the chancel and were replaced by the back rows of the present choir stalls.  The front rows were fitted in 1946 to accommodate a robed choir; previously the choir had occupied pews near the organ at the back of church.


Windows in the Chancel


We look at each of the five windows in the Chancel in turn, beginning with the strange window near the organ console, and then going clockwise around the Chancel.



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