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Macclesfield, Cheshire

Historical Description

Macclesfield, a market-town, a township, a municipal borough, the head of a poor law union and county court district, and seven ecclesiastical parishes, in Cheshire. The town stands on the declivity and skirts of a hill, on the river Bollin, adjacent to the Macclesfield Canal, near Macclesfield Forest, 8 miles NNE of Congleton, 12 ESE of Knutsford, 12 S by E of Stockport, and 165 from London. It has a joint station for the L. & N.W.R. and North Staffordshire railway, and another for the M.S. & L.R. It dates from ancient times, and the manor was part of the royal demesne of the Earls of Mercia, was the seat of their courts for the ancient hundred of Hamestan, belonged at Domesday to Earl Edwin, was then included in the Earldom of Chester, and passed at the abolition of that earldom's jurisdiction to the Crown. The town had a castle of the Earls of Chester, was surrounded in their time by a wall with three principal gates, was the scene of ecclesiastical councils in 1332 and 1362, was taken in the civil wars of Charles I. by a Parliamentarian force under Sir W. Brereton, sustained some injury immediately afterwards from a siege by a Royalist force under Sir T. Acton, was the scene of a council, after the execution of Charles I., for raising four regiments to serve the cause of Charles IL, and was occupied in 1745 by the Pretender both in his advance to Derby and in his retreat. A castle of the Staffords, Dukes of Buckingham, formerly stood near St Michael's Church.

The river Bollin divides the town into main body and suburbs, gives the name of the Waters to the adjacent streets, and is crossed by several bridges. Four principal streets form the oldest and most central part of the town, but many others deflect from them or run into the suburbs, and the greater number are well built, paved, and drained. The town-hall stands at the SE angle of the market-place; was built in 1825, and enlarged in 1870; is in the Grecian style, of white freestone; contains a spacious assembly room, council chamber, court for the borough petty sessions and county courts, &c.; and is fitted in the basement as a commodious corn and butter market. The Macclesfield Chamber of Commerce has its offices in the basement of the town-hall. The borough police station adjoins the town-hall. The county police office stand½in King Edward Street, it was rebuilt in 1866. The theatre stands in Catherine Street, and is a plain brick building erected in 1881. The Chadwick Free Library, on Park Green, was presented to the corporation in 1876 by Mr D. Chadwick, M.P. for Macclesfield, and is a good stone building containing about 16,000 volumes. The School of Art, on Park Green, was opened in 1879. Parr's Bank, on the S side of Chester Gate, was built in 1865, and is a handsome edifice of red brick with stone facings. The Adelphi Bank, on Park Green, was built in 1842, and is a stone edifice in the Tudor style. The public baths and wash-houses in Hallefields were erected in 1850 at a cost of £3000, and include warm,cold, shower, and vapour baths, and two large swimming baths. The public park, on the Prestbnry Road, was formed in 1854 .at a cost of about £6000; comprises 16 acres, of charming contour and with pleasant views; has handsome entrance-gates and a Gothic entrance-lodge; is tastefully laid out, and contains cricket grounds and a bowling-green. The remains of the old market cross and the old stocks are preserved in the park, which also contains two Russian guns captured at Sebastopol. In 1894 the borough was presented by Mr F. D. Brocklehurst, of Hare Hill, with a park of about 11 acres, named the " Victoria Park." Half of the area is laid out as pleasure grounds with a pretty bandstand, and the other asa recreation ground. The new park has two entrances with lodges and two other separate exits, and is bounded by a new liandsome road made by the same donor and named Fence Avenue. The shambles, or meat-market, are situated on an eminence E of the market-place, and have a spaciouscovered area with sixty-four stalls in several ranges. Theworkhouse stands on the Prestbury Road, was built in 1844 at a cost of about £10,000, is a stone edifice with two wings in the Tudor style, has capacity for about 700 inmates, and is surrounded by a plot of about 8 acres, partly for industrial employment and partly ornamental. TheCounty Lunatic Asylum, on the Chester Road, was erected in 1871 and enlarged in 1891; it is a redbrick structure in the Italian style, and has accommodation for about 800 patients. The Infirmary, adjoining the park, was built in 1872 at acost of £35,000, and is a stone building in the Italian style. The Fence Hospital in Buxton Road, erected in 1883, is a day-home for convalescent patients. A handsome drinking fountain was erected on Park Green in 1890.

St Michael's Church stands on high ground E of the market-place; was founded in 1278 by Eleanor, queen of Edward I.; underwent much reconstruction and enlargement in 1740, and was also partially restored in 1885; comprises nave, aisles, and chancel, with a tower, formerly surmounted by a spire; and contains an effigy of W. Legh of 1630, an altar tomb of Sir John Savage, and many other 3nonuments. Two chapels adjoin the church, one of which belonged to the Leghs of Lyme Handley, now represented by Lord Newton of Lyme, and contains a mural monumentand a brass of that family; while the other, called Archbishop Savage's Chapel or the Fivers' Chapel, belonged to a college of secular priests which was founded in 1508, and contains two altar-tombs of knights, a mural monument of the Earl of Fivers, who died in 1694, and several other monuments. Christ Church stands near Great King Street, was built in 1775, is a very spacious brick edifice with stone facings and with a tower, contains a fine marble monument by Bacon, and was one of the last Establishment churches in which John Wesley preached. St Paul's Church stands in Hallefields, was built in 1844, is in the Early English style, and consists of nave and aisles, with pinnacled tower and lofty spire. St Peter's Church stands in Windmill Street, was built in 1848, is in the Early English style, and consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a low tower. St George's Church, or Sutton St George's, stands in High Street, was built in 1822 as a Congregational chape], passed to the Establishment in 1828, and is a very spacious brick structure. The church of St John the Evangelist in Statham Street, erected in 1887, is a stone edifice in the Early English style, and consists of apsidal chancel, clerestoried nave, and aisles. Holy Trinity Church, standing in Hurdsfield township, was built in 1839, and is a stone edifice, with a tower. The Congregational chapel in Eoe Street was built in 1829, and is a brick structure, with a freestone front. The Congregational chapel on Park Green, built in 1877, is a handsome stone building with a tower. The Wesleyan chapel in Bridge Street, Mill Lane, was built in 1824, and afterwards enlarged, and is a large and handsome brick structure. The Wesleyan chapel in Sunder-land Street was rebuilt in 1802, and is plain but commodious. The Wesleyan chapel in Cumberland Street, erected in 1874, is a stone building in the Early English style. The New Connexion Methodist chapel in Park Street was built in 1837, and is a spacious brick edifice. The Unitarian chapel in King Edward Street was built in 1692. There are also Baptist, Free Methodist, and Primitive Methodist chapels, and another Wesleyan chapel. The Roman Catholic church stands in Chester Road; is a freestone edifice in the Early English style; comprises a spacious and lofty nave, with groined oak roof, chancel, and a W Lady chapel; contains a carved oak rood loft, and various rich decorations. The public cemetery was opened in 1866; comprises 36 acres, and contains three mortuary chapels, all in the Decorated English style. The Free Grammar School stands within enclosed grounds near King Edward Street; was founded in 1502 by Sir John Percival, and re-founded by Edward VI.; was rebuilt in 1856; is a stone edifice in the Early English style; and has an extensive library, an endowed income of £2000, and three exhibitions of £50 each to Oxford or Cambridge. The school in Great King Street was built in 1840 at a cost of £2500, is a stone edifice in the Tudor style, and shares in the Free Grammar School's endowment The Sunday School in Eoe Street was built in 1813, is an edifice four storeys high, contains twenty-six class-rooms, and includes an upper hall capable of accommodating 2000 persons, which is used for lectures, &c.

The town has a head post office, two railway stations, and three banks; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; and publishes three newspapers. Markets are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays; fairs are held on the third Tuesday in Feb., 6 Mar., 6 May, 22 June, 11 July, 12 Aug., 4 Oct., 11 Nov., and 23 Dec.; railway communications are enjoyed in all directions; and cheap water communication exists through the Macclesfield Canal and through that canal's connection with the Trent and Mersey Canal, with Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the southern counties, on to London. The manufacture of silk, mohair, and twist buttons was formerly the chief employment; but the manufacture of all kinds of silk, including ribbons, sarcenets, gros-de-Naples, satin, silk velvets, vestings, and all sorts of silk handkerchiefs, has superseded the former manufacture, and is carried on more extensively here than anywhere else in England. The first silk mill was erected in 1756 in Park Green, and gave the name of Mill Street to the thoroughfare going thence to the market-place. The manufacture of broad silks was first introduced in 1790. Silk-throwing also is prominent, was carried on for many years to supply the weavers of Spital-fields in London, and is now conducted both in extensive establishments by itself and in establishments conjointly with the silk manufacture. The manufacture of upholsterers' trimmings, and of gimps, fringes, and other silk trimmings is likewise carried on. There are also breweries, a large cotton factory, and several smallware manufactories.

The town was made a free borough in 1261 by Prince Edward, Earl of Chester; got confirmation of its privileges from Edward III. and four subsequent monarchs; was invested with the parliamentary franchise by the act of 1832, and returned two members to the House of Commons till the Eedistribution of Seats Act of 1885, when the borough was disfranchised. The borough is divided into six wards, and governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors. It has a commisiiion of the peace. The old borough was con-terminate with Macclesfield township, but the new borough includes also parts of Sutton and Hurdsfield townships. Acreage, 3215; population, 36,009. Eddisbury Hall, Park Mount, Foden Bank, and Hurdsfield House are the chief residences. The Queen is lady of the manor. Archbishop Savage of York was a native of Macclesfield.

The township of Macclesfield is divided into East Macclesfield and West Macclesfield by the line of road from Stockport to Leek. Acreage of the whole, 2580; population, 27,667. The ecclesiastical parishes of St Michael's, St Paul's, St Peter's (constituted in 1835, 1844, and 1846 respectively), Christchurch, and St John the Evangelist (constituted in 1893) are vicarages in the diocese of Chester. Population of St Michael's, 9815; net value, £300; patrons, Simeon's Trustees. Population of St Paul's, 4717; gross value, £286; patron, the Bishop of Chester. Population of St Peter's, 1674; net value, £160 with residence; patron, the Bishop of Chester. Population of Christchurch, 6109; gross value, £295. Population of St John the Evangelist, 4487; gross value, £150; patron, the Vicar of Macclesfield. The parts of the town beyond Macclesfield township are in Sntton St George and Hurdsfield, and all the seven ecclesiastical parishes were in the ancient parish of Prestbury.

Macclesfield Parliamentary Division of Cheshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 53,147. The division includes the following:-Northwich (part of)-Newbold Astbury, Radnor, Hulme Walfield, Buglawton; Prestbury (part of)-Birtles, Henbury-cum-Pexall, Hurdsfield (part of which is included in the borough of Macclesfield), Sutton (part of which is included in the borough of Macclesfield), Bosley, Eaton, Wincle, Gawsworth, North Rode, Wildboarclough; Congleton, municipal borough; Macclesfield, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCheshire 
Civil parishPrestbury 
Poor Law unionMacclesfield 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Macclesfield from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cheshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Macclesfield are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cheshire papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Cheshire, 1580 is available on the Heraldry page.

CountyCheshire East
RegionNorth West
Postal districtSK10
Post TownMacclesfield