Saturday, 22 November 2014


St Mary's church

Our trip to Cheshire for a dinner-dance last night provided an opportunity to do a bit of exploring and I decided to see Nantwich, described by Pevsner (in 1971) as "a friendly country town". He explains that the town was notable for salt production from Roman times to the 19th century, along with Middlewich and Northwich, which carried on the tradition for longer.

I had planned to combine a walk around the centre with the Nantwich Riverside Loop Walk along the River Weaver and the Shropshire Union Canal, but in the event I did not have sufficient time. I parked in the centre and walked out along Beam Street in search of some almshouses.

I soon found Crewe's Almshouses. The sign over the main doorway says that they were erected by John Crewe in memory of Sir John Crewe and Sir Thomas Crewe.

Beyond them and to the right are Wright's Almshouses of 1638, built by a Lord Mayor of London, Sir Edmund Wright. They are fairly plain and I agree with Pevsner's comment that the best thing about them is the entrance with two big volutes and Tuscan columns. They were originally in London Road and were moved here in 1975 according to a detailed description in Wikipedia.

I retraced my steps and walked down Market St towards St Mary's church (see photo at the head of this post). It is basically 14th century, but was restored by the prolific Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1854-61 (we saw his work yesterday in Lichfield).

Standing outside the chancel and looking back towards Market Street, you see the severely functional Market building of 1867. At least the main facade gets some architectural treatment.

On the opposite corner is the Olde Wych Theatre of 1919 with rather bizarre, but amusing, crenelated corner tower.

Going round the side of teh church leads to the Town Squate with some noce Victorian Gothic banks and on into the High St where you are immediately confronted with these fine timber framed houses. They were built in 1584, immediately after most of the town was destroyed by fire.

I had a brief look at the adjoining streets, Pillory Street and Hospital St, both pleasant and characterful and then went to the top of the High St passing the impressive Crown Hotel, also of 1584, with a style of timbering I have not seen before.

The final stage of the walk was along Welsh Row, the "best street in Nantwich" according to Pevsner. I passed the half-timbered C17 Widows almshouse, now a pub and the similar Wilbraham's almshouses, derelict when Pevsner wrote and now single private house. 

Further up is this lovely Victorian house with a wonderful doorway-cum-tower.

And right at the top, a final set of almshouses, Tollemache's of 1830, strangely not mentioned by Pevsner. Two attractive blocks each of four houses, with gables, dormers and finials.

It remained only to return to the car and go off out to lunch.

Conditions: grey, but not cold.

Distance: about three mikes.

Rating: four stars. A delightful town with its own character.

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