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Audlem & District History Society

28th November 2021 @ 6:06am – by ADHS – Valerie Mackin
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Report on Recent ADHS Meeting

18th November 2021.

The members of the Audlem and District History Society were entertained to a fascinating illustrated talk on:-

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“The Reverend Andrew Fuller Chater who helped rid Nantwich of cholera! A LIVING MEMORY.”

Andrew Fuller Chater, one of 11 children, was born 29th September 1815. His parents Reverend James Chater and Ann nee Thomas were missionaries who eventually moved to Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. It was hoped the weather and conditions in Ceylon would be better for Ann. The mission in Colombo was hard work and progress slow, James Chater remarked “Colombo is indeed a valley of dry bones.”

The families 2 eldest sons were lost at sea on the Arniston, on their way to England. This greatly affected Andrew's mother Ann, pregnant with twins who decided to return to England with the remaining children. Ann was taken off the ship at St Helena, the older children continued to England on their own. On 18th May 1820 Ann gave birth to twin girls, weakened further she died on 5th June 1820. She is buried on the Island, the remaining children eventually made it to England. Rev. James Chater had failing health and died on – route to England on 2nd January 1829. He is commemorated for his work on a Sri Lanka stamp.

Part of Andrew's very classical education was in Chester, Bath and Frome. He worked and continued his education and graduated BA Vern at Trinity College Dublin. On 5th May 1844 was ordained Deacon and in 1845 ordained priest. It is believed he was curate in a mission in a Dublin slum and was there during the potato famine.

After visiting his elder brother Daniel, curate of St Mary's Church, Nantwich and preaching at the incumbent Rev. Richard Gretton’s funeral, was asked to become rector. This he did 6th April 1846. Daniel married and moved to Devon.

One of the main industries in Nantwich was leather work ie. Tanning, shoes and gloves. There were 1045 houses with an average of 5.6 occupants, drainage poor, inadequate clean water, poor housing. A ditch ran down Welsh Row for waste water! Cholera broke out in Welsh Row Nantwich in June 1849. Many people fled the town. In 14 weeks, 1400 cases and 249 deaths. The Rev. Andrew Fuller Chater worked tirelessly to assist the poor and sick, rising early, stood on the bridge over the fog and sluggish Weaver and worked out who would need him that day. Eventually in August a relief committee raised money and opened a soup kitchen. The cemetery was soon full, so at the cost of £400 a part of the Fingerpost Field on the Barony was purchased. James Chester was the first buried there.

Cholera was associated with poor hygiene, a bell would ring to start treating the houses, fire canon, lime wash were used to fumigate the area. Andrew Fuller Chater and Thomas Williamson invoked the Public Health Act 1848, which enabled a local Board of Health the power to levy rates to provide fresh water, sewerage, storm drains and refuse disposal. A survey was made of the town using the cholera map, 10ft for 1 mile, to plan for drainage and water pipes. Water came from Baddiley Mere 1857, sewerage went onto farm land. Living conditions improved for all and cholera declined.

In the census 1861 there were 9 people living in the Rectory, 11 Church Yard. Andrew wasn't married but he lived with several members of his family and 3 servants. Andrew continued his good works and was on many committees and the first member of the Nantwich Volunteer Rifles. In 1855 a licence to restore the Church was granted, many improvements were made over the years including a stained glass window dedicated to Rev. Andrew Fuller Chater.

Andrew retired to Bournemouth. He died 24th January 1872 aged 57 and is buried in Barony All Saints Cemetery. 4,000 -5,000 joined the burial service.

Reverend Andrew Fuller Chater was a leading light in making Nantwich the clean, cholera free town it is today!

Thank you Graham Dodd for an enlightening look at the life of Andrew Fuller Chater.

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