The establishment of a community in Cranage is mentioned in the Domesday Book . The manor of Cranage, unlike many estates, has not remained in one family but had changed hands many times. Historically, Cranage was an agricultural area which had a wide variation of farming activities. The parish contains neither a church nor a chapel that is currently used but is served by the nearby church of St. Luke , Holmes Chapel . Ref 2
Cranage came came into the Needham family when Alice Cranage married William de Nedeham son of Thomas of Nedeham, Derbyshire. She brought the moiety of the manor of Cranage into the Needham family around the middle of the 14 th century. Cranage Hall was one of the principal dwellings in the area; it has been rebuilt over the centuries. The Hall and a small adjacent estate were sold on the 20 th Aug 1660 by the trustees of Viscount Kilmorey to William Swettenham. However it is was a century later, on the 24 th June 1760 that the manor of Cranage wasa sold by the Viscount Kilmoey to the trustees of Thomas Bayley Hall of the Hermitage.ref 4
It is believed that Cranage Hall was built in the 17th century incorporating elements of an earlier hall. Lawrence Armistead had the Hall demolished in the 19th century and the current Cranage Hall built in 1829, to a design by Lewis Wyatt. The Hall remained in possession of the Armistead family until 1920. Subsequently it was converted into part of the Cranage hospital, and on the hospital's closure became a conference centre.
Holmes Chapel Parish Church ( taken from ref 3 )
In mediaeval times three monuments to members of the Needham family, who lived at Cranage, were erected in the church. Unfortunately these no longer exist. We do not know precisely when they were removed, or why, but one of the entries in the Churchwardens' Accounts for 1717 is perhaps significant : "Spent carrying gravestones out o' th' Chansell, 3d.". The Incumbent at that time was Hugh Wishaw, who signs himself "Minister" in the Register, and would therefore appear to have had nonconformist tendencies. This would help to explain the removal of the old monuments.
A description of these tombs was made in 1569, and has been preserved in the Harleian MS No. 2151, folio 110 :
1—A tomb with a recumbent effigy on top, and on the side this inscription : "Hic jacet Robertus de Nedham qui obiit MCCCCXLVIII in vigilia Nativatis Sancti Johannis Baptistae." ("Here lies Robert de Needham who died on the vigil of the birth of St. John the Baptist 1448").
2—A tombstone in which were incised two male figures, side by side. Both were bareheaded and lay with hands clasped. At their feet was the the inscription : "Hic jacent corpora Roberti de Nedham qui obiit die Sabbati in .... festo Sancti Edwardi MCCCCXXXI et Thomae de Nedham quondam fratri praedicti Roberti .... qui obiit die Domini .... MCCOCLXI11." ("Here lie the bodies of Robert de Needham who died on the Saturday in the feast of St. Edward 1431, and of Thomas de Needham, formerly brother of the said Robert .... who died on Sunday .... 1463").
3—A stone slab inlaid with brass, representing a male figure clad in judge's robes, bareheaded, with clasped hands. Round the stone ran this inscription: "Hic jacet corpus Johannis Nedeham militis, quondam secundus Justiciarius (de Banco) domini Regis, et nuper capitalis Justiciarius Comitatu Palatini dicti domini Regis Lancastris, ac olim capitalis Justiciarius Comitatu Palatini ejusdem domini Regis Cestriae, et nuper unus Justiciarius dicti domini Regis ad Assisas capiendas, qui obiit XXV die mensis Aprilis anno domini MCCCCLXXX (cujus animae propicietur deus Amen)." ("Here lies the body of Sir John Needham, knight, once second judge of the King's Bench, and formerly chief judge of the same Lord King to the County Palatine of Lancaster, and lately also chief Judge of the Lord King to the County Palatine of Chester, and formerly an Assize Judge of the said Lord King, who died 25th April in the year of Our Lord 1480 (on whose soul may God have mercy)".
The Old Windows.
In about 1839 Lawrence Armitstead, Esq. of Cranage Hall gave a new east window to the church. It consisted of three long panels of clear and coloured glass in a simple geometrical design. As far as can be ascertained from the only photograph of it, the text running round the top was "God sent His Son into the world to save sinners". It is not known what the previous east window was like.
The original stained glass windows were intact till about 1640, and were very likely destroyed during, or just after, the Civil War. One inscription and several shields of arms in the windows were recorded in 1569, and are preserved in the Harleian MS 2151, folio 110. In 1640 Sir William Dugdale, in his history of the Mainwaring family, described two windows in the north aisle :
1—"In Capella vocata Holmes Chapell in co. Cestr. 10 Aug. ad 1640. In boreale fenestra alae aquilionaris ibidem." (In the chapel called Holmes Chapel in the county of Chester 10th August A.D. 1640. In the north window of the north aisle there.")
Two figures, each kneeling beside a small table on which open books are lying. The man is dressed in a scarlet robe edged with fur, and wears a Judge's headdress ; the woman is also in scarlet, with a reticulated headdress. Between them is a shield of arms, Needham impaling Mainwaring of Peover. Above the man is the fragment of an inscription : ". . . edam "; Above the woman, "Margar ys wyff". The figures appear to be those of Sir John Needham, who died in 1480, and of his wife.
2—The figure of a kneeling man dressed in a purple robe edged with fur, with a fur tippet on his shoulders. His head is bare, and his hands clasped. Behind him are the three small figures of his sons. Opposite him kneels his wife, also bareheaded with hands clasped, wearing a purple dress. Behind her are two daughters. In front of each group is a small table on which are open books. Between the two groups is a shield of arms, Needham impaling Mainwaring, and below them the inscription : "Orate pro bono statu Roberti Nedham militis et Agneti uxore ejus et pro animabus Thomae, Johannis et Roberti, filiorum, et pro bono statu Matildae et Johannae, filiarum eusdem Roberti fieri [sic] in anno domini MCCCCCXLIIII". ("Pray for the good estate of Sir Robert Needham, knight, and of Agnes his wife, and for the souls of Thomas, John, and Robert the sons, and for the good estate of Matilda and Joan the daughters, of the same Robert [who caused this window] to be made in the year of Our Lord 1544").
In another window was a shield of arms Needham quartering Bromley; Somerford impaling Mainwaring. In other windows were the arms of the principal families of the district - Winnington of the Hermitage ; Cotton of Cotton ; Needham ; Cotton with an amulet sable for difference ; Mainwaring ; and other arms of doubtful ascription.
2. History of Cranage. Cranage Village Website. Retrieval Date: February 10, 2008.
3. ' Holmes Chapel Parish Church ' by Rosemary Scott
4. The History of the Ancient Parish of Sandbach by J.P. Earwaker
5. Alastair Lack http://www.lackfamily.net/genealogy/index_genealogy.html