Site of St John's Church and surrounding burial ground, 400m NW of Booths Mere


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014378

Date first listed: 09-Apr-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Mar-1996


Ordnance survey map of Site of St John's Church and surrounding burial ground, 400m NW of Booths Mere
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Knutsford

National Grid Reference: SJ 76560 78791


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The enclosed churchyard and burial ground at St John's church site is well preserved in a recreation ground. The remains of the church under the turf are outlined by a kerb of concrete slabs. The foundations of the church and the former chapel of St Helena will be preserved under the ground. The burial ground will contain evidence of a whole local population from the late medieval period to the 18th century. The shape of the churchyard and the former dedication to St Helena suggest that the remains may be of greater antiquity.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of a church and an enclosure surrounded by a slight bank and ditch which was the churchyard and burial ground of St John's Church in Knutsford. This was a parochial chapel, the equivalent of a parish church, formerly attached to the church at Rostherne. The churchyard is situated on a plateau close to Booths Mere and overlooks a slight valley known as St John's Wood. The enclosure is ovoid in shape but irregular. It measures 70m by 50m with its long axis lying east-west. The bank of the enclosure is only 1.5m wide and reduced to 0.4m high. The ground inside has not been built up by burials as has happened in churchyards that have a long history of interments within. Outside is a shallow ditch, now only 0.4m deep and 3m wide, visible on the north west and south sides. On the east side a trackway has obscured the ditch. In the south west quadrant the outline of the former church is marked by modern concrete slabs laid in the turf. Inside this is a paved area formed from the grave slabs formerly in the burial area of the churchyard. The dimensions of the church so defined are 12m by 8m orientated east-west, with a small projection attached to the south west side measuring 5m by 5m which may have been a porch. On the east side is a separate building measuring 6m by 3m which has been interpreted as a chapel. Unusually, the main part of the burial ground lies in the northern half of the yard. The northern side of a medieval churchyard was usually reserved for the unbaptised. The dates of the tombstones range from the early 17th century to the mid-18th century. This bears out the date of the abandonment of the chapel which occurred when the new parish church was completed in 1748. The church is said to have been dedicated to St Helena in the 14th century. It is unclear when it gained its present dedication to St John.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 25728

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Richards, R, Old Cheshire Churches, (1947), 195

End of official listing