St Mary's Church has stood on this spot for hundreds of years. Churches of that name are almost always over 1,000 years old and located near to a Roman Road. We can certainly confirm such a road through Tilston.
The church has had many periods of restoration and building to reflect the faith and care of the community. Much of the church shows signs of a Victorian restoration by the famous architect John Douglas. However, you can see in the Chancel arch, and in parts of the north and south walls, signs of the older church, including some very old stained glass.
The stained glass over the altar is 19th Century. It was placed there by Lord Stanley of Alderley, who owned land around Tilston, a few years after he had converted to Islam. The flower patterns in those windows show signs of Islamic design.
The Leche Chapel (previously called the Stretton chapel, or the Wright Oratory - an oratory being a place where prayers are offered for the dead) was built in the 17th Century without permission during the Civil War. A retrospective faculty was granted when Charles II returned to the throne. The Chapel has a beautifully vaulted crypt under the floor for the repository of the bones of the former owners of Stretton Hall.
The oldest part of the church is the Tower, a 15th Century construction. Much of the older stone, especially in the upper parts of the Tower, shows its age, and the gargoyles on the corners of the Tower are original. There is a niche over the door which would almost certainly have contained a statue of Mary, but it was no doubt removed during the reign of Henry VIII or during Cromwell's Commonwealth.
We are so lucky to have such a beautiful church as the base for our expanding range of services, weddings and activities. We maintain the building, not as a museum, but as a very active church and village community. The aim is to balance the church's history and traditions with people's needs in the 21st Century.
We recommend you take a look at Tilston, Shocklach & Threapwood published by The Local History Group, 2001 edited by Frank A Latham and published by Herald Printers (Whitchurch) Ltd ISBN 0 9522284 8 3 .
Here is an extract (though please note that the clock is now working!
Written records suggest there has been a church in existence in the time of Henry 3rd (1216-1272). The tower is the oldest part of the existing church with some 14 and 15th century stonework. The church was 'improved' from just a nave and a tower in the 17th century there was definitely a chancel by 1660. A gallery for musicians once existed in the church but it was removed in 1879. There is a sundial in the church yard with the date 1679 and there is another sundial attached to the south wall of the church. Written records suggest a clock was first brought to Tilston in 1733, but the present clock is dated 1750. The clock is not working at the moment this is because the workings have gone away for repair. The bell tower has 6 bells the oldest is dated 1665 the next 1672 and the 3rd 1678. the next bell is dated 1852 and replaced an older bell.Two more bells were added between 1923 and 1925.