Great Budworth is picturesque today, not only in 'Victorian eyes'

Great Budworth is picturesque today, not only in 'Victorian eyes' Words by Polly Berkerley Paintings by Gordon Wilkinson

Great Budworth dates back to the Middle Ages but rather like a beautiful lady who has succumbed to a little cosmetic surgery it has had its picturesque qualities enhanced.

For centuries the village was owned by the head of Arley Hall who would collect rent from the villagers. One such owner was Rowland Egerton-Warburton who not only paid for restorations and improvements to the church in 1850 but also undertook a ‘campaign to render it picturesque in Victorian eyes’.

He commissioned architects including William Nesfield and John Douglas to work on some of the village buildings as well as the George and the Dragon Inn, creating an evocative Cheshire village oozing with character (still utterly appealing to today’s non-Victorians).

The main street is filled with delightfully quaint buildings mixing up brown brick, half timbered architectural styles but without doubt, the jewel in the crown is the impressive grade I listed St Mary and All Saints’ Church. The architectural historian Clifton Taylor rated this highly, as one of the best Parish churches in England while Pevsner (never one to overstate his case) considered it to be ‘one of the most satisfactory Perpendicular churches in Cheshire’.

Its north chapel houses a memorial to Sir Peter Leycester, the 17th-century historian, and in the Warburton Chapel is the alabaster effigy of Sir John Warburton who died in 1575.

Great Budworth’s notable houses include the Grade II listed Goldmine House and its attached Rose Cottage built in 1870 as part of Rowland Egerton-Warburton’s redesign and Dene Cottages with brown brick lower storeys and the upper timber-framed levels with plaster panels.

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Belmont Hall is also in this parish. It was built by J. H. Smith-Barry Esq., who deposited in it his valuable collection of pictures and statues, afterwards removed to Marbury. Smith-Barry sold it to Henry Clarke. Built in 1755 and designed by James Gibbs, it is a Grade I listed building.But architectural merit aside, this is still a country village and it is quite astounding to discover that a running pump was the only source of drinking water for the whole community until 1934, when a piped supply was first connected.

The Cheshire historian Sir Peter Lycester believed the name Great Budworth came from the Old Saxon words bode (‘dwelling’) and wurth (‘a place by water’).

The village is located about two miles from Northwich and is situated along a ridge overlooking two meres, Budworth to the west and Pickmere to the east.

It was situated in the hundred of Bucklow and deanery of Frodsham. At 15 miles in length and 10 miles in width, it was considered to be the largest parish in Cheshire, apart from Prestbury.

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