The altar rails are used these days to partake of Holy Communion, but originally, the rails were in place to keep dogs and other livestock from defecating the altar area.
The altar rails are Jacobean and are described as ‘fine altar rails consisting of turned balusters, with moulded heads’(1).
The choir stalls are located at the west end of the chancel and are a wonderful example of Flemish wood carvings from the 16th century.
In his book, Nikolaus Pevsner writes ‘with many Flemish panels, including C16 parchemin panels(2) and C17 scenes of small figures’(3). There are a total of 35 panels around the choir stalls and there is a wonderful variation of carvings on the panels (see example below).
There are various other panels depicting times in the life of Jesus, such as his ‘Circumcision and The Last Supper’.
(Left, Birth of Jesus)
In addition to the Biblical Scenes, there are panels that are depicting scenes that perhaps, are a strange choice for a Church.
Based on writings and documents, it is assumed the Flemish choir stalls came from Archdeacon Wood (possibly around 1858)(4). Archdeacon Wood collected and gave various pieces of furniture to the church at this time, and did much to furnish the fabric of the church.
There is a plaque on the screens which reads ‘These screens were restored in the year 1969, in memory of Arthur Gascoigne Child, Canon Diocesan, Vicar of Middlewich 1904-1920’.
(1) Cheshire Church Furniture – Fred Crossley FSA.
(2) Parchemin panels – simplest style of linenfold design.
(3) Cheshire (page 280) – Nikolaus Pevsner, Edward Hubbard.
(4) St Michael and All Angels Statement of Significance