The first church in Upton or Overchurch is said to date back to 700 - 900ad making it of Anglo
Saxon origin. The church was built opposite where Upton Manor stands now just off Moreton Spur
on the Overchurch. Nothing is left of the building and the area is now a small wild wood. Some
time after the church was destroyed, another church was built on the same site. We can only
speculate on the date but due to artifact finds over the years I believe it to be of Norman origin
(1066 - 1216 ad).
The Norman parish church shown above was sited on top of the 1st church opposite Upton Manor,
and is described as a church having pointed arches of peculiar elegance, richly decorated with
chevrons and Saxon mouldings. Internally it had benches for about one hundred and fifty, a clay
floor, an oak pulpit, a stained glass window and a bell. It was served monthly by a clergyman from
The earliest references to the church are in 1347 when it was noted in literature. In 1709 the
steeple of the church was damaged and the parishioners were allowed to sell two of the three
bells to cover the cost of repairs to the church. It is noted that only fourteen families in the parish
were able to give contribute funds for repairs which would not cover the damage. The 2nd church
was demolished in 1813 following a major fire which gutted the building. The interest in the church
does not stop there as the old church was surrounded by a burial ground, which despite the
proximity to the local estates; is in good condition and lays covered by foliage which hides the
artifacts. Most people in the area who have lived there for years do not even know it exists. The
burial ground is a mass of trees, brambles, root grass and undergrowth. The old tombstones are
scattered around the small site amongst the ever increasing wilds. The only stone that is now
legible dates back to 1745.
|The Overchurch Runic Stone
|A Sketch of the Norman Church in 1665
The building of the new and third church was carried out on a new site on Hall Hill, opposite Upton
Hall. Due to a lack of funds the new church was to be a temporary church until more funds were
raised. Construction began in June 1813 but was not completed until September 1815. The
church was made from stones of the previous church which were both Norman and Saxon in
detail, however it is possible that these date back to the first church as it would fit the time line.
The last service was held in this church in April 1868 after which it began its new job. For two
decades the church was used as a mortuary for the locals until finally in 1887 they decided to
demolish the church which had only been built as a temporary measure anyway.
In the mid 20th century odd shaped stones were discorved near by which look to have strange
incriptions on them. After examination by an expert the strange stones were concluded to be
ancient Saxon Runes. It is from this that i believe that they were from the first church opposite
Upton Manor from It is from this that i believe that they were from the first church opposite
Upton Manor from the Anglo Saxon era.
The piece of sandstone was about 21 inches long by 10 inches high and 9 inches thick. On the
upper side was an interlaced ribbon pattern, the runic inscription was carefully cut in two rows,
divided by a line, and was clearly incomplete, as the stone was broken off at the right hand side.
Judging from the carved pattern, the inscription had lost at least four or five letters.
The stone was the first inscribed with runes to be found in Cheshire and has been attributed by
archaeologists to the seventh or eighth centuries. The runic characters have been deciphered to
"FOLCÆ ARÆRDON BECUN .... GEBIDDATH FOTE ÆTHELMUND"
When translated into modern language this reads:
"THE PEOPLE ERECTED A MEMORIAL ... PRAY FOR ÆTHELMUND"
The stone is an ancient "Bidding-stone" asking for a prayer of the passer by for the soul of the
Saxon warrior or possibly priest who was buried beneath. There is reason to believe that
"Æthelmund" was a Saxon Chieftain who was killed around the 7th century. The stone is now
kept at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester.
|The Temporary Church on Hall Hill 1865
CHURCH TIME LINE
700-900 First Church built & Demolished
1347 First Mention of 2nd Church
1813 2nd Church Burnt down
1815 3rd Church built on Hall Hill (temporary)
1868 St Marys Church Built (Upton Village)
1887 3rd Temporary Church Demolished
Graves Picture 1
Graves Picture 2
Graves Picture 3
Graves Picture 4