|View from east of the church||Half-timbered building dating from 1664|
|Butter Cross||The Corbet Arms|
|The Crown Inn||Tudor House Hotel|
|St. Mary's in 2012||A shaft of sunlight on the banner in the sanctuary|
|Plaque near the Butter Cross||The nearby tea-room has gingerbread in the toursist season|
Market Drayton is the sort of town I hope to find when "in search of England". It is compact but full of history and takes a pride in it. There are numerous notices erected by the Drayton Civic Society to direct the attention of visitors to historic buildings. Pause awhile here, tour the town and have refreshments at the cafe by the Butter Cross. There was a Saxon settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book as Draitune. The town received its market charter in the time of Henry III (1216-1272). In the last 200 years it has been noted for its production of gingerbread.
The Crown Inn survived a major fire in the town in 1651. Charles I is reputed to have stayed here during the Civil War. The half-timbered building on the corner of the Butter Cross shown top right, was formerly a meeting place for a Society for the Prosecution of Felons. Such societies flourished in the 18th and early 19th century before there was a police force or prosecution service. Citizens banded together to protect their property, to give chase when there was a theft, and to bring private prosecutions against those they apprehended.
The Corbet Arms was formerly a 17th century coaching house and was called The Talbot until 1825. Thomas Telford, the engineer, stayed at the inn in 1832 during the building of the Shropshire Union canal. In 1862 it was the site of a meeting to inaugurate the Nantwich and Market Drayton Railway.
Just south of the church is the brick-built St. Mary's Hall, which was the site of a Grammar School founded in 1555 by Sir Rowland Hill, the first Protestant Lord Mayor of London, following the Reformation. One of the pupils was Robert Clive, 1st Lord Clive (Clive of India) - Market Drayton's most famous son.
St. Mary's church has a Norman doorway at the west end under the tower, dating from the middle of the 12th century. The tower itself is from about 1325 except the battlements added in the 16th century and the pinnacles which are Victorian. There is also masonry from the 14th century in the north aisle and chancel. The clerestory windows are believed to be part of the 1786 restoration and the church underwent further restoration in 1884 when the 14th century aisles were repaired.
Several stained glass windows are by Kempe including the great east window which shows scenes from the Resurrection. To the south of the chancel is the Resurrection Chapel, furnished and panelled after the Great War. To the north of the chancel is the Buntingsdale Chapel associated with the families that owned Buntingsdale Hall - variously the Mackworths and Tayleurs. In the choir vestry is a monument to Thomas and Elizabeth Bulkeley, whose grandson Rev. Peter (1585-1653) was a founder of the town of Concord, Massachusetts - the town where the American War of Independence began with "the shot that echoed around the world". In the sanctuary is a brass commemorating Rowland Corbet who died in 1560. This family held the manor and were patrons of the church.
A correspondent, John McEwen of Wingham in Ontario, who traces his descent from Thomas and Elizabeth Bulkelely, points out that Thomas Bulkeley's cousin was Sir Rowland Hill, Lord Mayor of London in 1549. He quotes different dates for Peter Bulkeley of 1582/3 to 1658/9
There is a board displaying the list of 40 vicars since 1136. On average they must have served about 20 years each. The first on the list is named simply as Robert, Priest of Dreiton as this was a time when hereditary surnames were not fully established. In 1152 there was John Fitz (son of) Thomas followed by two men who are given only Christian names - Philip and Robert. In 1300 we have the first incumbent with a more recognisable surname based on his abode or place of origin in Walter de Pettynges.
The Old Parish Churches of Shropshire Churches, by Mike Salter, Folly Publications, 2001, ISBN 1-871731-47-X
Welcome to St. Mary's Church, Market Drayton, a pamphlet available in the church.