Leek, a market-town, a township, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a parish in Staffordshire. The town occupies the summit and declivities of a pleasant eminence, on the left bank of the river Ohm-net, nearly in the centre of a deep but spacious valley, 5 miles from the boundary with Cheshire, 10 NE by E of Burslem, 10 SW of Long-ncr, 10½ N of Cheadle, 13¼ SSE of Macclesfield, and 156 from London. It dates from very early times, was held by Algar the Saxon, passed to the Norman Earls of Chester, and was given by them to Dieulacres Abbey, which was founded near it in 1220 and has left some remains. A few ancient British weapons have been found at it. Thomas Parker, born in 1666, who became Earl of Macelesfield and Lord Chancellor of England, was a native. The town contains several spacious and well-built streets, is well lighted and drained, and has a good supply of water. The gas and water works are the property of the town, the water rights having been purchased in 1894. The old town-hall was built on the site of the old market-cross in 1806, but was subsequently taken down. The present town-hall was erected in 1878, and purchased by the board of commissioners for their offices; the county court and petty sessions are held here, and it contains also a concert hall. The Nicholson Institution was built in 1884, and presented to the town by Mr Joshua Nicholson; it contains a free library and reading-room, a museum and picture galleries, and a school of art and technical instruction. A literary and mechanics' institution was established in 1837, and a new building for it was erected in 1862. There are also Conservative, Liberal, and non-political clubs, and public baths. The parish church, or church of St Edward the Confessor, is mainly Decorated, and has a fine pinnacled tower; it contains many good stained windows, a fine chancel screen, a handsome pulpit and font, an ancient brass, and several monuments. The churchyard contains a dilapidated ancient cross called Danish, and commands a very fine view toward the hills in the N and the W, including a rocky mountain called the Cloud which occasions sunset, at the summer solstice, to appear double. St Luke's Church was built in 1848, is in the Decorated style, and has a good western tower. All Saints' Church was built in 1887, is in the Perpendicular and Renaissance styles, and has a central tower. There are Roman Catholic, Wesleyan, Congregational, Primitive and New Connexion Methodist chapels, and a meetinghouse for the Society of Friends. There are a cottage hospital built in 1869, a fever hospital built in 1880, a workhouse, and almshouses. The town has a head post office, a station. on the North Staffordshire railway, and a police station. It was governed by the Leek Improvement Commissioners until 1894, when they were superseded by parish councillors, and is a seat of petty sessions and county courts. It publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Wednesday; a cattle market on alternate Wednesdays; cheese markets on the last Wednesday in Feb., Aug., and Oct.; and fairs on the Wednesday before 13 Feb., Easter Wednesday, 18 May, Whit-Wednesday, 3 and 28 July, the Wednesday after 10 Oct., 13 Nov., and the Wednesday after Christmas. The cattle market was enlarged in 1894. The twisting and doubling of silk, the sewing of silk, and the making of twist ferrets, galloons, handkerchiefs, shawls, buttons, ribbons, sarcenets, and broad-silks are largely carried on. The limits of the town include portions of the townships of Leek, Leek Frith, and Tittesworth.
The township bears the name of Leek and Lowe. Acreage, 2721; population, 12, 760. The parish contains also the townships of Leek Frith, Tittesworth, Bradnop, Onecote, Rudyard, Heaton, Bushton James, Eushton Spencer, and Endon-witb-Longsdon and Stanley. Acreage, 33, 258; population, 18, 716. The manor belongs to the Earl of Maccles-field. The chief seats are Highfield, Ashcombe Park, Ashen-hurst, Bassford Hall, Westwood Hall, Ballhave, and Hare-gate. About a mile N of the town are the remains of the Cistercian abbey of Dieulacres or Dieulacresse, founded in 1214 by Ralph de Blondeville, Earl of Chester. At the dissolution it was given to Sir Ralph Bagenal. The parochial living and that of St Luke are vicarages, that of All Saints a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Lichfield. Net value of the parochial living,, £320; of St Luke's, £280 with residence. Patron of both, the Bishop of Lichfield. Gross value of All Saints', £18 with residence. Population of the restricted parish, 16, 108; of St Luke's ecclesiastical parish, 4975; of All Saints' ecclesiastical parish, 3913.
Leek Parliamentary Division of Staffordshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 56, 711. The division includes the following:-Cheadle-Alveton (otherwise Alton), Bradley-in-the-Moors, Cauldon, Cavers-wall and Mear, Cheadle, Checkley and Tean, Consall, Cotton, Denstone (in Alton), Dilhome, Draycott-in-the-Moors, Parley, Kingsley, Whiston; Leek-Alstonefield, Biddulph, Blore-with-Swinscoe, Bradnop, Butterton, Calton-in-Blore, Calton-in-Mayfield, Calton-in-Waterfall, Cheddleton; Endon, Longs-don, and Stanley; Fawfieldhead, Grindon, Heathylee, Heaton, Hollinsclough, Horton, Ilam, Ipstones, Leek and Lowe, Leek Frith, Longnor, Musden, Grange, Onecote, Quarnford, Rudyard, Rushton James, Rushton Spencer, Sheen, Tittesworth, Warslow and Elkstones, Waterfall, Wetton, Woodhouses; Uttoxeter (part of)-Calwich, Croxden, Ellastone, Mayfield, Okeover, Ramshom, Rocester, Stanton, Wootton.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Leek St. Edward the Confessor|
|Poor Law union||Leek|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Leek from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Leek (St. Edward the Confessor))
Land and Property
A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Staffordshire is online.
Online maps of Leek are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Staffordshire newspapers online:
- Staffordshire Advertiser
- Tamworth Herald
- Lichfield Mercury
- Staffordshire Sentinel
- Wolverhampton Chronicle and Staffordshire Advertiser
Villages, Hamlets, &cAbbey Green
Bradnop and Cawdry