Marton church, a grade I listed building, is considered one of the best examples of an English medieval wooden church still standing. It is a half-timbered black and white church founded in 1343. Its first name was the Chapel of Merton and its founders were Sir John de Davenport and his son, Vivian. With the dissolution of the monasteries the church was seized by the crown, but the Davenport family were later able to get it back.
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The nave is the oldest part of the church and has three bays and a north and south aisle. The chancel was a later addition with a brick extension added in the 20th century. The first church entrance was on the north side. Then it was moved to the south where the porch is located. In 1871 restoration work took place and a main entrance was created from the road up the steps and through the belfry.
There was once a minstrel gallery at the west end and a dormer window in the south side. They were removed in 1804. More restoration took place 1930-31, at which time a medieval painting was discovered on the west wall. At this time the wood and panels on the north and south sides were renewed, the roof was stripped, some of the rafters replaced, and the tower reshingled. It is topped with a weathercock. The church roof is lower than the original one.
The belfry is separate from the nave and is constructed of wooden uprights and cross-pieces. The tower and bell chamber, dating from c 1540, are roofed with wooden shingles. When constructed there were four bells, but one was removed in 1800. In the belfry are two stone effigies thought to be those of the two original founders of the church.
The pulpit dates from 1620, and there is an old Elizabethan parish chest in the church. The octagonal stone font was discovered at a nearby farm. Its pedestal is new. The organ dates from 1894.
Marton is located on the A34 north of Congleton, Cheshire
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard