Gresford – All Saints Church


   The origins of the church of All Saints in Gresford date back to the thirteenth century, however, its original shape was completely changed in the fourteenth century, and especially during the late medieval reconstruction of the fifteenth century. It is assumed that such a large and sophisticated church was created in a small village because of pilgrimage movement to an already unknown relic. Another explanation may be the support of Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby, stepfather of king Henry VII. It is known that he founded a large window in the eastern part of the building.
Thomas Stanley’s brother, Sir William Stanley, thanks to the intervention in the Battle of Bosworth, led to the victory of Henry Tudor and gave him the throne as Henry VII. Later, however, William Stanley supported the case of Perkin Warbeck, who claimed he was one of the sons of the rightful king Edward IV, and was therefore executed. There is a tradition that the reconstruction of the church in Gresford was funded by Henry VII to show his grief for the execution, of a man who once served him. However, the execution took place in 1495, when the rebuilding of the church was almost completed.
The first major repairs of the church passed in the nineteenth century, in 1921 the north porch was added. In 1907, during the renovation works in the underground of the church, a sculptured altar from the Roman period was found, dating from around 100-350 AD


   The original silhouette of the church consisted of a nave, narrower than the present, and a chancel. In the fourteenth century, the southern aisle was added, and the chancel was extended to the east, at the same time a vaulted crypt was placed under it. The crypt was the same width as the chancel and had small, barred window openings from the north and south. A simple, low tower was built from the west, which opened with an arcade towards the nave.
In the fifteenth century, the church was rebuilt in the English perpendicular gothic style, leaving only the tower and part of the walls, mainly from the west and east. Finally, a three-nave basilica was created without an external separated chancel. The roofs of nave and aisles were decorated with a parapet with battlements, and seven windows on each side of the aisle were placed between small, two-stepped buttresses. Each window was decorated with carved heads or animals from above, and the gutter outflows with gargoyles in the form of monkeys or grotesque creatures. Mascarons, beasts, and animals also decorated tops of buttresses and a band along the length of the side aisles. Some of the stained glass in the windows was moved from the dissolved Basingwerk Abbey. The eastern wall and the tower were decorated with gothic pinnacles. The tower in the middle of the height was decorated with a frieze, which at the same time allows to distinguish the part from the 14th century from the one added in the 15th/16th century.

Current state

   The church is a remarkable example of late English gothic. Its bells, or rather their tone and tune are included in one of the so-called The Seven Wonders of Wales, which according to tradition are the most interesting places in the country. The building still has sacral functions, but it is also open to tourists.

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Wooding J., Yates N., A Guide to the churches and chapels of Wales, Cardiff 2011.
Website, All Saints’ Church, Gresford.