Grid Ref: SJ 842 762.
27 May & 27 June, 21 Oct 2005 (interior) & 27 Feb 2015


St. Mary's
View of St. Mary's with schoolhouse and Stanley mausoleum
St. Mary's
St. Mary's Nether Alderley
The Schoolroom in early morning light, Feb 2015


Mausoleum   Porch
Stanley Mausoleum built in 1909   Porch & Stanley Chapel
Mill   Mill
The Water Mill at Nether Alderley   Old mill wheel

Nether Alderley lies on the A34 and encompasses St. Mary's Church, the watermill and the old hall of the Stanley family, which was largely destroyed by fire in the 18th century. The building was probably late 16th century, partly brick and partly timber framed. One wing survived and was made into a new house.   The moat of the house joins the pool for the mill wheel. The mill, built in the 16th century, is owned by the National Trust. It is believed that originally it was a timber structure on a stone base.

Cheshire had only 12 parishes at Domesday but more were created as local landowners sought control over their own churches. The parishes of Wilmslow (1290) and Gawsworth and Alderley (1300) were created out of the massive parish of Prestbury. The Ardernes were then the prominent family of Alderley, with the Fittons at Gawsworth and the Masseys in Wilmslow. The Parish of St. Mary's included the townships of Over and Nether Alderley together with Warford. Chorley was a township in the parish of Wilmslow. The village of Alderley Edge (as opposed to Nether Alderley) became a parish in the 19th century but retained the name of Chorley until very recently.

The old school at the entrance to the churchyard has a plaque indicating that it was built by Hugh Shaw, Clerk in 1628, and endowed by Thomas Deane in 1694. There is an extension of 1817 at the back. The cross near the porch may have a Saxon base and the yew tree nearby has been dated to about 800 AD. 

The nave dates from about 1300 and probably replaced an earlier timber structure.  The tower is mid 16th century and similar in style to that at Mobberley. The chancel was rebuilt in 1855 by Cuffley and Starkey for Sir John Thomas Stanley.  The two storey Stanley pew is mainly Jacobean and was restored in 2000. It is accessible only from outside the church. Some of the decorations may have come from overseas as it is not typical of British design at the time. The church was restored by Paley and Austin in 1877-8.  In the late 19th century the former three decker pulpit was replaced by the one shown below and the box pews were replaced.  The plaster was removed from the walls to reveal the stone.  Some of the stone in the church may have come from what is known as Church Quarry on the Edge.

Many fonts in Cheshire were destroyed during the Reformation or during the Civil War but St. Mary's has a 14th century example.  It was buried to save it from destruction by the Puritans and forgotten until rediscovered in 1821 and reinstalled in 1924. The church has copies of the Vinegar Bible and the Breeches Bible.  The ministers are known as far back as Robert Bryan who served until 1328.

I am grateful to Jenny Youatt for opening the church for me to take the interior shots and for giving me a guided tour. Jenny has now informed me that the church has two websites. One covers the more administrative aspects and is called St. Mary's Church Alderley and the other is St. Mary Alderley Heritage.

Nave spacer Stanley Pew
The Nave and Chancel   The Stanley Pew from the Nave
East Window   North arcade
East Window   View from the Stanley Pew
Pew End   Stanley Pew
Symbol of St. Luke on end of pew   Inside the Stanley Pew
Banner   Rood screen
New Mothers' Union banner   The Rood Screen from the Stanley Pew
Font   Tomb
14th Century Font   The children of the 2nd Lord Stanley

The Stanley Family

A family tree of the antecedents of the Stanleys of Alderley is shown on my Aldford page.  An outline of the family is shown at the end of this article.

Sir John Thomas Stanley (1766-1850) 7th Baronet became the 1st Lord Stanley. He succeeded his father in 1807. In October 1796, he had married Maria Josepha Holroyd (1771-1863) the daughter of Lord Sheffield. Their eldest son was Edward John Stanley (1802-1869), 2nd Lord Stanley and 1st Baron Eddisbury of Winnington. In 1826 in Florence, he married Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Viscount Dillon. She was a champion of the rights of women and founded Girton College, Cambridge. The memorial to the left of the altar at St. Mary's depicts their children as shown in the photograph above. The eldest was Henry Edward John (1827-1903), shown in peer's robes, who succeeded as the 3rd Lord. The second son, John Constantine (1837-1873), became a colonel in the Grenadier Guards. The third son, Edward Lyulph (1839-1925) was a barrister and succeeded as the 4th Lord Stanley. The fourth son was Algernon Charles (1843-1928) who became a clergyman then converted to Roman Catholicism and became a bishop. Three children who died in infancy are shown in their mother's arms.  Four daughters survived to adulthood and are shown at the right hand side. They were Alice, who married into the Rivers family; Blanche; Maud, who was interested in women's education and was associated with Girton College, Cambridge; and Kate, who was the mother of Bertrand Russell. The dog in the picture features also as the foot-rest for the effigy of Lord Stanley on top of the tomb.

Henry, the eldest son became interested in the East from an early age and asked for a Arabic grammar as a birthday present when a boy. He converted to Islam and in 1862 he married Fabia, daughter of Santiago Frederica San Roman of Seville, charmingly described by Peter Stanley in The House of Stanley from the 12th Century as a man of uncertain antecedents. It later transpired that she was married already. Henry delayed telling his family of the marriage for seven years and announced it after the funeral of his father.  As Henry was a Muslim he closed down the public houses on the estate which included the Wizard on the road running on top of The Edge, the Eagle and Child on what is now the A34, and The Iron Gates at Monks Heath.  When Henry died he was buried in unconsecrated ground in the woods.  As he had no issue, and his next brother had died in 1873, the title passed to the third brother, Edward Lyulph, who was an atheist.  It was he who gave additional land to the church for the graveyard and built the mausoleum on unconsecrated ground. 

Edward Lyulph Stanley succeeded as 4th Baron in 1903.  In 1909, through his grandmother, Maria Josepha, he gained the title of Baron Sheffield. He was a Fellow of Balliol College from 1862-1869, a Member of the Inner Temple and a Member of Parliament for Oldham from 1880 to 1885. He married Mary Katherine, the daughter of Sir Lowthian Bell of Washington in County Durham. When Edward Lyulph and his wife died they were cremated and their ashes placed in the mausoleum.  There are no other occupants.  Their eldest son, Arthur Lyulph (1895-1931) succeeded as the 5th Baron. He was a Captain in the Cheshire Yeomanry during the Boer War, High Sheriff of Anglesey in 1913 and the MP for Eddisbury from 1906-10. He was the Parliamentary Secretary of the Postmaster General from 1906-10 and Governor of Victoria from 1914-1919. In 1905, Edward married Margaret Evelyn Gordon. He died in 1931 only six years after his father and is buried in front of the mausoleum. This resulted in two sets of death duties very close together. Edward's son, Edward John (1907-1971), succeeded as the 6th Baron.

In 1938, the 6th Baron sold the Alderley Park estate of 4,624 acres for half a million pounds to Mr. Crundall of London. The estate comprised 77 farms and had been in the family for 500 years. It was broken into lots and an auction was held in the summer of 1938. This was not a promising time for people to make as investment because of the tension in Europe.  The tenant farmers attended the auction room in Macclesfield but few made bids. Many lots went unsold and remained in the hands of the agent for some time. For a colourful account of the 6th Baron's activities, his four marriages and three divorces, consult The House of Stanley from the 12th Century. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the 6th Baron volunteered for all three services - to the Royal Navy as Lord Stanley, to the Army as Lord Sheffield and to the RAF as Lord Eddisbury. The 6th Baron died in March 1971 without male issue. The titles went to his younger brother, Lyulph Henry Stanley, 7th Baron, who died only three months later. As a result, the the titles went to a cousin of the 6th and 7th Barons. He was Thomas Henry Oliver Stanley a grandson of the 4th Baron through his third son, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Hugh Stanley.

In 1956, one of the largest lots of the Stanley estate, still unsold by the agent, was purchased by Imperial Chemical Industries for the research laboratories and commercial headquarters of what was to become ICI Pharmaceuticals Division and is now AstraZeneca.  It is ironic that the Stanley family motto was "Sans changer".

Link to books about the Stanley family.

The Family Tree of Stanley of Alderley

It is difficult to do justice to the Stanleys in a short space as a substantial volume on them has been published. Below I give in brief the descent from the end of 14 th century to show how some of the main branches are related. Before the reign of James I (1603-25) all those with the title of Sir are knights. Thereafter, I indicate whether knights or baronets.  Prior to 1752 the New Year began on 25 March, Lady Day.  Dates between 1 January and 24 March are given in the format 23 Feb 1732/3 to indicate that it was 1732 on the Julian Calendar but 1733 on the Gregorian Calendar which had been in operation in most of Europe since the end of the 16th century.

I am grateful to Claude Certano for sending me a picture of a gravestone he found in Menton in France.

  gravestonespacer "In loving memory
Adeliza Jane Scott,
daughter of General W. H. Scott,
Scots Fusilier Guards
of Thorpe House, Chertsey
and Harriot Alethea daughter of the
1st Lord Stanley of Alderley,
died at Villa Scott
July 5 1935
aged 92 years.



Adeliza must have been born about 1844. Her parents, General Scott and Harriet Stanley, were married in 1835.


The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, first edition 1971, Yale University Press edition in 2003.
Notes from Gentry Estates and the Cheshire Landscape, a series of lectures at Wilmslow Guild by Clare Pye, Winter 2004/5.
Notes from The English Country Estate, a series of lectures at Wilmslow Guild, by Matthew Hyde, Winter 1998.
The House of Stanley from the 12th century, by Peter Edmund Stanley, Pentland Press, 1998, ISBN 1 85821578 1
The Parish Church of St. Mary, Alderley, a brief history and guide, a booklet available at the church with photographs by Barry Smith.
East Cheshire Past and Present by J.P. Earwaker, London, 1877 (CRO, Knutsford)  This is widely regarded as the best work on East Cheshire of the 19th century. It is useful for family trees of landed families. Now available from the Family History Society of Cheshire on CD ROM .


Back to list of  families
Introduction to Cheshire Gentry

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