The South Aisle

The south aisle is on the right as you face the altar. Compare the two aisles: they are not the same. Loss of enthusiasm or lack of money, half-way through the 15th century remodelling of the nave and aisles means that they differ in a number of ways.

The windows are smaller in the south aisle. Perhaps the passion for memorial stained glass was fulfilled once the north aisle was complete. Whatever the reason, the north aisle was rebuilt from the ground up, while the south aisle reused some of the older wall. Up to the cills the stonework dates from the 14th century. Note, too, the string course - the projecting horizontal band that runs along the wall and up over the south door.

There are few decorations in the south aisle; only the roof corbels, or supports, have crude animals and faces carved upon them: these winged beasts and dragons have peered down on 600 years of congregations.

Look carefully at the end wall of the aisle, below the organ pipes. Protected behind the screens until the 1860s, on a thin skin of plaster, is a painted medieval altarpiece. It is almost invisible today. Nearly seven-and-a-half feet (2.3m) wide, but only eight inches (20 cm) high, it shows Christ rising from the tomb. On either side stand the two Marys, and beyond them two bishops wearing the vestments of the Mass and holding crosiers. One of them is probably St Boniface, patron of Bunbury church. Although born an Englishman, he became archbishop of Mainz, in Germany. He was martyred while on a missionary journey to Frisia, and is buried at Fulda.

The wooden screens surrounding both aisle chapels were carved and decorated with painted wainscot-panelling. Parts of these - enough to allow a reconstruction to be made - were rescued in 1949. They have since been restored at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and are displayed on the south aisle wall.

The South Porch

 Today, the south porch houses relics of the church's past - Norman stonework, several grave slabs and freestone effigies, as well as the old church clock.

Both the inner and outer doors of the south porch are original. The south door was once the normal entrance to the church, and the west door, the main entrance today, was reserved for special occasions and processions. Villagers congregated in the south porch on summer evenings to talk over the day.

Three 18th-century charity boards hang on the tower wall. Like others in the vestry they record, for all to see, money given for distribution to the poor of the parish.

At the end of the south aisle, the visitors' book contains signatures from around the globe. The blue and gold curtains behind hung originally in Westminster Abbey at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.


The Font


In Medieval times the parishioners, having entered by the south door, would file past the font before moving up the nave. The present octagonal font dates from 1663. It replaces Bunbury's medieval font, misused during the Civil War (1642-1649), when the church housed prisoners taken in local fighting at Beeston Castle and Tilstone Fearnall. The scrolled oak cover has been restored to its original colours of black brown and gold.

 

 

Found buried under a yew tree north of the church in May 1882, this statue was thought at first to represent the Virgin Mary. Later research told another story: the effigy commemorates Jane Johnson wife of the dancing master of Nantwich, and is dated 1741. Aged only 24, she may have died in childbirth.


The Chancel

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