Patronage

The Church of England commemorates many saints and every church has one or more patron saints that they are dedicated to. Many people often ask ‘who was Saint Cross?’ The answer is ‘there is no Saint Cross’, but the name of the church springs from our church being dedicated to the ‘Holy Cross’. How the name of the church in Knutsford came to be ‘St. Cross’ remains to be rather mysterious but the best explanation seems to be that the original church in the parish was known as St. Helena – The Chapel in the Fields. 

Saint Helena was born in 255AD and was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine.  She was a devout Christian and travelled to the Holy Land in search of the true cross of Jesus.  According to tradition St. Helena found the wood of the true cross of Christ on Calvary and subsequently founded several churches in Jerusalem, all dedicated to the Holy Cross. It is these obvious connections to the Cross of Christ, that is possibly what influenced the name ‘CrossTown’ and St. Cross Church.

Saint Helena’s Church in Knutsford was situated on what is now known as the Booths Hall Estate. The site is still visible enclosed by a fence and a screen of trees. The Chapel fell into decay in the 1700’s.  This led ultimately to a new parish church for Knutsford being built in the town centre (St. John the Baptist).  The people of CrossTown, Knutsford were unhappy to lose their heritage and wanted their own parish church. Eventually, Mr Peter Pennington Legh, the Victorian land owner of Booths Hall, supported his tenant farmers and workers by pressing for Cross Town to become an independent parish with its own church and vicar and St Cross Church came into being in 1858. Sadly, though the new church had been built with love and conviction, it had not been well designed. The only sensible solution was to demolish this hand-built church and have a new one professionally designed. The church that now stands was designed by Paley and Austin, and completed in 1890.

The church has a beautiful interior and is particularly noted for its West Window - Adoration of the Magi, and the Memorial Chapel Window - Christ is Love. These were designed by Burne-Jones and made by Morris & Company.

 

 

There are also many memorial plaques around the church, each with their own piece of history. A notable one is the memorial to the son of the last owner John Pennington. The plaque was given in loving memory of Captain JA Pennington who was drowned on Chesil Beach Dorset October 13 1944 along with 11 others when attempting to rescue an American tank landing craft. 

 

 

Historically the connection to the Pennington Legh remains as Juliet Singer is the current patron of this church. Juliet is the great-granddaughter of the last owner John Pennington Legh. Every parish church, as well as being dedicated to a saint or holy day, has a patron who has historical connections to the church. The patron’s most important duty is the presentation to the individual selected, to be the new Vicar of a parish when a vacancy occurs. This last took place in May 3rd 2016 when Juliet presented Paul Deakin to be the Vicar of St. Cross at his installation service. Pictured below is Paul with The Right Reverend Libby Lane who at the time was the Bishop of Stockport.