Places: Chester, St Mary
CHESTER, St MARY-on-the-HILL
This was one of the nine parishes of the city of Chester. The advowson had been granted to Chester Abbey and after the dissolution this passed to the dean and chapter of the cathedral. It was a valuable living.
The church was situated next to the castle, but little of the parish lay within the city walls, the majority being detached parts outside including Handbridge and Upton by Chester.
This was a fashionable church, being favoured by the wealthier inhabitants of the city who chose it for worship and burial. The rectors were often pluralists from landed families such as John Brereton, rector from 1534 until his death in 1542, who held other Cheshire parishes in plurality. He was also canon of St Paul’s and a royal chaplain. His brother, William, was executed in 1536 accused of adultery with Anne Boleyn.
The church building was badly damaged during the Civil War siege but rebuilt over the succeeding centuries. It was closed in 1972 and is now owned by the council and used as a cultural centre.
The surviving churchwardens accounts are some of the oldest in Cheshire, dating back to 1536.
J. P. Earwaker, The History of the Church and Parish of St Mary-on-the-Hill Chester (London, 1898) (image from this volume courtesy of HathiTrust).