A chapel is thought to have occupied this site from the 16th Century and was rebuilt in the classical style as the parish church in the 1740s. However, Congleton lay in the parish of Astbury. Although the story is not always clear, for it is known that two chapels existed in Congleton, one at St Peter’s and one on the banks of the Dane, it was the Rectors of Congleton who collected church dues and the relationship between the chapels and the mother church at Astbury is sometimes obscure and difficult to decipher. It is known, though, that as the town developed the mayor and corporation gradually wrested the control of Congleton’s church from Astbury and St Peter’s became the church for the town parish. It was a long and convoluted process. There were chaplains appointed by the town, the earliest known for sure being Richard de Chelle in 1379, but until 1686 baptisms, burials and marriages were carried out at Astbury.
The current church of St Peter’s was built gradually, mainly in 1740-2, although the church tower, which houses a ring of eight bells, was not finished until 1786 and it is currently undergoing restoration. Whilst the restoration work to the highly decorated ceiling is being carried out the bells have been silenced, and they plan to ring out again in 2019. The building is of local brick, although the tower is stone, also from the Congleton area. The church has a gallery along three sides, wooden box pews and a carved reredos. A Grammar School, which closed in 1901, occupied what became the church hall.
Visit Astbury Church to see Congleton’s oldest church in its delightful village setting.