Macclesfield is one of the faireft towns in Chefhire, and ftandeth upon the edge of Macclesfield Foreft, upon a high Bank; at the foot whereof runneth a fmall River named Bollin, diftant 8 miles South from Stopford. It hath a Market every Munday and yearly two Fairs; that is to fay, on Barnabas day and All-fouls day. There is a fair church with a very high Spire fteeple, and a Colledge adjoyning on the South-fide, founded by Thomas Savage, Bifhop of London and after Arcbifhop of York; but the fteeple whereof is not fully finished: therein are divers goodly Monuments of the Savages; and not far from the Church, is a huge place all of ftone, in manner of a Caftle, which belonged to the D. of Buckingham but now gone much to decay.
From The Vale-Royal of England or County Palatine of Cheshire , by William Smith and William Webb, 1656, reprinted with an introduction by P. Timmis Smith in 1990 by Heads of Congleton.
I am grateful to Dorothy Bentley Smith, the author of 'Past Times of Macclesfield', Parts 1 and 2 and 'A Georgian Gent & Co., The Life and Times of Charles Roe' for many useful comments. On the basis of modern research, Dorothy has corrected a number of errors that occur in older sources of information on the town.
|The Town Hall west facade of 1869/71||Old cross in the Market Place|
|The south side of the Town Hall, built in 1824. (2015)||View up the 108 steps, 2015|
Macclesfield is set on a hill with a gentle descent to the west towards the Cheshire plain but a very steep descent to the north and the east to the valley of Bollin. In these photographs we proceed from the Market Place into Jordan Gate then retrace our steps to King Edward Street, cross Churchill Way and walk down Chester Road to the Regency Mill. On the way back we proceed along Chester Road to Chestergate to see the Bate Hall and return to Market Place.
The part of the Townhall facing the market square was designed by Francis Goodwin and built in 1823-4. The new front, facing down Chestergate, was added in 1869-71 to a design by James Stevens. In 1991-2 a new section was added in brick as shown at the extreme left in my top picture. Until 1823 there was a Tudor period Guildhall on the site.
The market cross, has had a chequered career. It stood originally outside the Angel Inn, now the site of the NatWest Bank in the Market Place. In the late 17th century a waterhouse was built there to supply four houses on the corners of the old market place with a proposal in 1693 to upgrade to a cistern. This became the property of Macclesfield Water Works and it is possible that the inscription on the cross "MWW 1798" relates to this. The cross was moved from the Market Place in 1795 and bought by a farmer. In 1858 it was recovered and put in West Park and in the early 20th century returned to the Market Place. A stone mason made the lettering more legible in 1968, and the story developed that the date related to the farmer. However, it is possible that the date could have read 1693 not 1798.
The 108 steps running from east of St. Michael's down to Waters Green, used to be known as School Brow or School Bank. King's School, founded in 1502 by Sir John Percyvale, was located in the Savage Tower of the church, after its completion in 1503. It was refounded as The Free Grammar School of Edward VI in 1552 and a new schoolhouse was built at the top of Bunkers Hill.
|The former Macclesfield Arms Hotel, Dec 2014||The library, formerly a bank, 2014|
|Jordangate House, Jan 2015||Cumberland House|
This lies at the junction of King Edward Street and Jordangate. It was built in 1811 and was formerly a coaching inn. The young Princess Victoria stopped here for lunch with her mother, the Duchess of Kent 1832. They were waiting for a change of horses for their carriage when travelling to Chatsworth. It was the departure point for the daily London Coach known as the The Royal Telegraph. In recent years it has been converted to offices but it was still an inn in the 1970s. Note the Venetian window on the second storey.
The Library on the corner of Jordangate and Brunswick Street was opened on 28 April 1994 by the Duchess of Gloucester. It was formerly a bank and on the top bears the inscription "Manchester and Liverpool District Bank Co. Ltd, 1881." This date is not for the erection of the building, which was in 1914, but the date when the bank became a limited company. The library retains the bank's fine mahogany swing doors. The bank formerly had premises in Park Green. When being converted to the library, the bank building was extended to the north over the former site of an inn called 'The Pack Horse' which once had gardens and a bowling green on the eastern side.
Cumberland House, built in 1723, faces Jordangate House. It is so called because following the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, the Duke of Cumberland stayed there when pursuing the fleeing army of the young pretender. Until recently it was the premises of a group of general practitioners but has now been redeveloped. In 1745 it was the residence of John Stafford, the town clerk of the borough.
Jordangate leads down to the River Bolin, which in early deeds is shown as the River Jordan.
This Georgian property was formerly called Pear Tree House and was built in 1728. From the middle of the 18th century it was owned by the Brocklehurst family. John Brocklehurst owned a button making business. John's son also called John (1754-1839) continued the button business and was a mercer. He also had a son called John (1788-1870) who was first a mercer then banker. He changed the family business from button making to silk weaving and became one of the first two Liberal M.P.s. for Macclesfield, holding the position from 1832 to 1868. The Brocklehurst mill was the largest silk weaving mill in England.
According to The History of Macclesfield by John Corry, published in London in 1812, the Young Pretender, known also as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" stayed in Jordangate in Macclesfield on 1 December 1745 on the march south. This is contrary to the story given in Streets and Houses of Old Macclesfield by John Earles, published in 1915. Earles states that the young pretender stayed at the Old Grammar School in King Edward Street. This is now demolished but stood at the west end of King Edward Street, close to the current traffic roundabout. In the early part of the 18th century it was owned by the Davenports, the ancestors of the Bromley Davenports of Capesthorne and in 1745 it was the home of Sir Peter Davenport. The Jacobites reached Macclesfield on 1 December 1745. There is a surviving report of the event by John Stafford, the town clerk. The Scots enquired after Sir Peter Davenport's house, went there and inspected it before allocating it as their leader's lodging for the night. Sir Peter Davenport, who was a Commissary in the English Army, had been long gone before the rebels arrived; he had no intention of helping the Jacobites and being accused of being a traitor. In 1748, the house was taken over by the Grammar School, which formerly had rooms behind St. Michael's Church.
Earles must have originally written a series of articles on which his book was based. for Pear Tree House is covered on page 28 and then the infomation is corrected on page 134. Mr. Edward Brocklehurst of Upton had informed him that the house was built in 1728 by John Glover on land purchased from Mr. John Andrew. John Glover was mayor in 1714 and in 1732. In 1782 it was purchased from Samuel Glover for £1,000 by Mr. John Brocklethurst. On his death in 1839 he had three sons and and daughter - William Brocklethurst of Tytherington, John Brocklehurst of Brunswick Street and later of Hurdsfield, Thomas Brocklethurst of The Fence and Mary Brocklethurst. John and Thomas set up the silk firm of J. & T. Brocklethurst and Sons. John Brocklehurst of Hurdsfield became MP after the Reform Act of 1832 gave the area two seats. Among his children were Philip Lancaster Brocklethurst of Swythamley who became a baronet and was father of Sir Philip Brocklehurst the Antarctic explorer and Emma, who married Mr. Dent of Sudeley Castle, hence the Dent-Brocklehursts. Later Pear Tree House was the residence of Captain Pearson a partner in the Sunderland Street Mills and in the late 19th century it was the home of Colonel J. W. H. Thorp.
|King Edward Street, 2014||The Drill Hall, 2014|
|The Regency Mill, 10 June 2003||Regency Mill entrance|
On the north side of King Edward Street near its junction with Churchil Way is a fine Georgian House, built in 1798 for Francis Beswick. He was a silk manufacturer and later Mayor of Macclesfield. His initials and the year the house was built are on the rainwater heads. Joseph Tunnicliffe, another silk manufactuer, was a later owner; he endowed the infirmary.
The Drill Hall in Bridge Street dates from 1871 and is of red brick with a machiolated tower, which was added the following year. It was built by public subscription and used by the 8th Cheshire Rifle Volunteers. The motto on the building is "Nec virtus nec copia desunt" roughly translates as "They lack niether virtue nor plenty" - any improvement on this would be welcomed.
The Regency Mill is hard to photograph as it faces north onto a traffic island at the junction of Chester Road and Oxford Road. You have be early or late in the day in midsummer to see any sun on the frontage. My picture was taken at 7.30 am on a sunny morning in the middle of June when the slanting rays of the sun illuminated the facade. It is also known locally as The Card Factory.
|The Bate Hall in Chestergate, June 2015||The Bate Hall sign, June 2015|
|Charles Roe House, Chestergate, 2005||St. Michael's from Back Wallgate|
|The Nag's Head, Waters Green, 2015||St. Michael's from Waters Green, 2015|
|Georgian doorcase in Jordangate||Old Post Office in Castle Street|
|Mill Street, April 2015||Majestic Cinema entrance of 1922 , April 2015|
The property dates from the late 16th century and evidence of its earlier history can be seen by walking through the arch to the side to gain a view of the back of the building. It was once the home of the Stopford family, who supported the Parliamentary cause during the Civil War. It is said that Oliver Cromwell stayed there. According to the Lysons's book on the history of Cheshire, the Bate Hall was formerly the seat of the Earl of Courtown. At the time the Lysons were writing their history of Cheshire (1810) it had already been converted to a public house. It lay empty for a time around 2008 but is now operating as a pub again.
This was the home of Charles Roe, Macclesfield's industrial entrepreneur in the late 18th century. He built the first silk spinning mill in the town and went into metal processing, smelting copper and becoming a leading brass manufacturer. He lived in the house from 1753, shortly after his second marriage, until his death in 1781. If you walk down Churchill Way and turn to your right, you can gain access to a yard at the rear of the property and see the fine Venetian window.
This is an ancient street that formerly led to the town well. It affords an interesting view of St. Michael's.
The old Post Office in Castle Street is a fine building. Its functions moved to a brick building opposite and it became part of the Cheshire Building Society, now merged with Nationwide. In March 2015 the functions of the post office moved to a counter in W.H. Smith's newsagents.
The Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner
and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0 300 09588 0
Pamphlet produced by the library for Heritage Weekend 2008, information compiled by Dorothy Bentley Smith
Past Times of Macclesfield by Dorothy Bentley Smith, Landmark Collector's Library, Vol. I 2004 and Vol. II, 2005
108 Steps around Macclesfield, a walkers guide, by Andrew Wild, Sigma Press, 1994
Streets and Houses of Old Macclesfield, by John Earles, published in 1915 and reprinted in a limited edition of 750 copies by MTD Rigg Publications in 1990
Macclesfield Page 1: Town
Macclesfield Page 2: Town Centre
Macclesfield Page 3: Halls
Macclesfield Page 4: The Canal
Macclesfield Page 5: Christ Church
Macclesfield Page 6: St. Michael's, the Exterior & Nave
Macclesfield Page 7: St. Michael's the Savage Chapel
Macclesfield Page 8: Nonconformist Chapels
Macclesfield Page 9: Some Macclesfield Mills