Centre of Puritanism

Under the patronage of Thomas Aldersey, a local-born Puritan who had bought the right to endow the preachership in 1565, Bunbury soon became a centre for non-conformism. It was the first church living of which the London Company of Haberdashers Aldersey's trustees - gained control. They were often in conflict with local Catholics. "You of this parish", wrote the Bunbury preacher in 1633, "live mixed with so many Papists as nowhere more in the whole country" A census of 1640 shows the parish contained no fewer than 112 recusants - illegal Catholics in a Protestant nation.

By 1744 a small Bible study group, meeting in the vestry, were presented by the Bishop of Chester with a copy of Birkett's 'New Testament Commentary'. However, within the year attitudes changed, and they were thrown out. The Commentary remained, and can still be seen displayed halfway along the north wall of the chancel, in what was once a memorial niche.

The group became the first Methodist Society in Cheshire. John Wesley - the famous itinerant Methodist preacher preached from the pulpit of Bunbury church, and later, in 1751, at the forge in the centre of the village.

The tour of the church ends here. However, as you leave, lookup to the arms of the Haberdashers' Company of London over the west (main) door: consider that the vicar is still appointed by the Company, and paid as "the Preacher of Bunbury", like his predecessors over the past 400 years. This is yet another point to illustrate the church's long history as a place of worship.


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