St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, Chester

St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, Chester

Parish church
name = St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, Chester

caption = St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, Chester
dedication = Thomas Beckett
denomination = Church of England
tradition = Anglo-Catholic
diocese = Chester
province = Province of York
vicar = Rev. Peter Walsh
curate =
curate1 =
organistdom = Ian Fantom
organist = Matt Baker
warden = Stephen Winsor
warden1 = Noel Baker
warden2 = Stephen Windsor
website = [ |St. Oswald and Thomas of Canterbury]

The Church of St. Thomas of Canterbury is situated in the City of Chester, in an area of the city informally known as "The Garden Quarter". This is a densely-populated area, close to the University. While the church was built in 1872, the parish of St. Oswald which it serves, is much older, dating back to about 980AD.


The church was built in 1872 in a newly-built residential area to the north of the city walls, in the parish of St. Oswald. Until that time the parish had been using the South Transept of Chester Cathedral as its parish church. This situation was far from ideal, as service times would often clash and there was only a thin curtain wall separating the transept from the rest of the cathedral. At that time the name of the Parish was St. Oswald and the name of the church was St. Thomas of Canterbury.

The dedication of the Church was chosen to be St. Thomas, because during the Middle Ages there was a Chapel dedicated to St. Thomas not far from the present site of the church. The church was consecrated as "St. Thomas (unspecified)" however, the Church's school nearby is certainly dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury. For this reason the Church's dedication has always been taken to be St. Thomas of Canterbury.

The Parish name of Saint Oswald was lost at the formation of the Chester Team Parish in 1973, which grouped all the parish churches in the City of Chester into one single parish. On March 01 2005 Chester Team Parish was dissolved into two new parishes. The new Parish is called "Saint Oswald and Saint Thomas of Canterbury", which restores the ancient Patron Saint of the Parish and incorporates the patron of the parish church. The remaining part of the Team Parish of Chester forms the "Parish of Saint Peter with Saint John the Baptist".

The Church Today

The church is still firmly rooted in the Anglo-Catholic tradition on which it was founded. The Parochial Church Council has recently released the Parish's mission statement which is:
*Welcome all people
*Proclaim God’s love
*Teach, Baptise and nurture
*Respond to human need with loving service
*Rejoice through the beauty of Word, Sacrament and music.

The church also has strong links with the local school which bears its name. There is a well-attended annual Eucharistic Festival. This is usually held in July. The Church's patron saint's day is December 29.


St. Thomas' benefits from a number of groups which help support the ministry of the church and provide fellowship among the members. Members of the congregation may join one or more or none of these groups if they wish.
*Sunday School
*Youth Group
*Young Adults Group
*Mothers Union
*Association of Christian Fellowship
*Social Group
*Devotional Society


The church is built in red sandstone with a westmoreland slate roof. Its style is Gothic Revival, designed by Gilbert Scott and is still unfinished. The tower has a ringing chamber but lacks the bell chamber above and spire. some of the carvings around the windows and at the top of the Nave columns remains incomplete, it is also possible that the walls and ceiling were intended to be plastered. This has also been left undone. The plan of the church consists of an East Tower at the end of the South Aisle, the North Aisle and a 5-bay nave. The chancel is raised three steps above the nave with a further three steps at the other end of the choir into the sanctuary. There is a Lady Chapel at the end of the North Aisle.

Architectural features

The West Window is by Kempe. There are two magnificently-carved reredoses by Deacon, one in the Lady Chapel and one in the sanctuary. The wooden High Altar (in the sanctuary) is decorated with three painted panels, featuring: the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Visitation. The baptismal font at the West End of the church used to have a magnificently-carved suspended cover which collapsed in 1980. Also at the West End there is a Sacristy and a choir vestry. The three-manual digital organ was installed in 1997 by Wyvern Organs to replace an earlier pipe organ.

External links

* [ Church website]

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