|St. Philip's, Alderley Edge||View from the nave towards the entrance|
|The War Memorial||One of six commemorative plaques round the War Memorial|
The name of Alderley Edge has been given to two quite distinct geographical entities. There is the escarpment and about a mile down the hill to the west lies the village of Alderley Edge. The village is a latecomer in that it is a product of the railway development in the middle of the 19th century. Before the coming of the railway there was the small village of Chorley. Quite separate from the village of Alderley Edge are the two more ancient settlements of Nether Alderley and Over Alderley.
The Manchester to Birmingham railway was originally going to go via Stockport then Wilmslow to follow the line of the A34 to Congleton and Stoke. The Act of Parliament for it was in 1838. There was an idea for a branch line going from Alderley, which then scarcely existed, to Holmes Chapel and on to Crewe. After two years the railway company was taken over by the Grand Junction, which had already interests in Crewe. As a result the main line was changed to go via Chelford and Holmes Chapel to Crewe which would provide connection to Birmingham, Liverpool, Market Drayton and on to Shrewsbury, and Warrington.
The Alderley to Congleton route was abandoned but not before a large consignment of bricks had been provided for a viaduct near Congleton. These were subsequently used to build Antrobus Street. Alderley Station had been built and was opened on 12 May 1842. However, without the branch line it was superfluous being only two miles south of Wilmslow. As a result the railway company was eager to develop the area for rail traffic. The ancient village name of Chorley was thought to be unsuitable as it would cause confusion with the town in Lancashire. Instead, and to the annoyance of the Stanleys of Nether Alderley, the station was named Alderley Edge. Passengers from Macclesfield and Knutsford went by horse drawn carriage to pick up the train at Chelford.
Alderley Station was opened in May of 1842 and within weeks, at Whit, there was the first Sunday School trip from Manchester, bringing children to breathe the fresh air on the Edge. Louisa Stanley wrote a small guide book for the benefit of trippers. Land for development was mainly from the Trafford estate and was initially divided into five acre plots. Many of these were subdivided. The railway allowed the manufacturers and the up and coming professionals who worked in Manchester to move to the healthier air of Cheshire. The insanitary conditions of Manchester at that time were among the worst in England. Those who bought a property of rateable value greater than £50 a year obtained from the railway company a first class pass valid for 20 years for one person. The Stanley family called the new villa owners railroadians and then cottontots. It was necessary to be a member of the "villa set" to join the cricket and tennis club. There was a separate club for the tradesmen and shopkeepers of the village. Subsequently, his latter club had the village's first cinema in a room on the upper floor. This sharp separation of social classes is illustrated to some degree on the War Memorial. In some towns names are listed in alphabetical order without rank but at Alderley we have name, rank, regiment and military decorations. The officers are from the villa owning families.
St. Philip's was built by J. S Crowther of Manchester between 1851 and 1852 with the tower added in 1857. Originally it was a chapel of ease for St. Bartholomew's at Wilmslow and did not have a burial ground. Later, when it became a parish in its own right, the village already had a municipal cemetery.
The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, first edition 1971, Yale University Press edition in 2003.
Notes from Gentry Estates and the Cheshire Landscape, a series of lectures at Wilmslow Guild by Clare Pye, Winter 2004/5.