The History of St Philip’s

A little about the building of St Philip’s

The first Anglican Church in Kelsall was a small Chapel of Ease built in 1844 on the west side of Church Street North. Within 20 years the church was demolished and the bricks were used to build the schoolmaster’s house on the same site. ( This later became the parsonage and is now known as the Old Rectory.) A sketch of this early church can be found in the Chester Record Office and a copy hangs in the vestry.

The present church was built by T. Bower of Nantwich and licensed for worship on 20th March 1861. The church was not consecrated until 9th July 1868as there were difficulties about the conveyance of the site. Col. Tomkinson of Willington voluntarily took it upon himself to build the new church on the condition that he be allowed to dispose of the old church. The church was still a Chapel of Ease for Tarvin, not becoming a parish church until 1956.

Kelly’s directory of Cheshire for 1906 describes St Philips as “….an edifice of stone in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and an open eastern turret containing one bell: there are 300 sittings” People must have been much smaller as we now estimate that we have only 200 seats!

The origin of the bell is uncertain. Although it is attributed to an English foundry, it is believed that Col. Tomkinson brought it back from the Crimea in 1854 as army loot. Old residents always referred to the bell as Balaclaval.

On entering the church, immediately to the left, is the font with it’s cover of English oak, by Huntstone of Derbyshire.

The west window, by J. Wippel of Exeter to the design of R.W.Coomber, was installed in May 1968, at a cost of £1310, to mark the centenary of the church’s consecration. The window was dedicated on 9th July 1968 by the Bishop of Chester the Rt Rev Gerald Ellison, 100 years to the day since Bishop Jacobson consecrated the building.

To the left of the west window there is a cross of dowellingwith an arrangement of silk lillies, a permanent reminder of the millennium Glower Festival held in St Philips by members of the Kelsall flower Club. The proceeds from the festival were kindly donated to the church and used to buy a new memorial book and stand, a wall handing and new communion rail kneelers(work in progress). A ring binder with photographs of the flower festival is kept on the bookcase at the back of the church.

The small painting of St Philips Church is by Lionel Morris who was Deputy Headmaster of Kelsall County Primary School from 1948-1957.

Below the west window is the memorial book which records the names of those whose ashes have been interred in the Garden of Remembrance. The cabinet is of English oak and was made by a local craftsman, Michael Wilkinson.

A little further along this wall there is a very striking wall hanging made by two local ladies; Mavis Antrobus and Margaret Edgley and funded by the proceeds of the flower festival.

Then there is the brass memorial to those who died in WW11. On the wall opposite, beside the WW11 memorial brass is the Kelsall millennium flag. Represented on the flag are the forest, the county, the surrounding fruit farms and the church.

The pulpit of English oak was installed in 1911. It was given in memory of Cecil Highnett, age 13, by his parents and sisters.

The Reader’s stall, close to the organ was given in memory of W.W.Ridley, Reader form 1958-1979 and it matches the clergy stall opposite. This was designed by Rev. Baguley, a former Vicar of St Philip’s.

The inscription on the south window, in the Choir, states “ to the glory of God & in the loving memory of William Tomkinson, born Jany 18th 1790, died Aug 26th 1872. Also Susan his wife born Feb7th 1814, died Feb 26th 1879. This window is erected by their children.”

The reredos was donated in memory of Cadet John Oakley RN who died in 1911, aged 16. Why a copy og a Flemish triptych was chosen is not known but it was a very popular style at the time. The original was painted in 1491 for the Church of St Mary, in the Baltic City of Lubeck, by Hans Memling who died in 1494. It depicts some twenty events from the end of Our Lord’s life on earth.

The origins of the organ are uncertain but it was built about 1910 by Nicholson and Lord of Walsall.

The Garden of Remembrance, dedicated on 11th December 1966, is situated by the north wall. As you leave the churchyard, take a moment or two to look at the wrought iron lych gates given by Kenneth and Gavin Law in memory of their parents.

We hope you enjoyed your brief tour of St Philip’s and that you will come back soon.