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Cheshire Towns & Villages

Distinctions & Definitions

In general terms, a town is a fully operational entity with its own council, public services and elected councillors. A village is usually identified as a suburb parish of or in some way administed by a larger town's local authority. The distinction between a village and a hamlet is more subtle, but most authorities identify a hamlet as a small collection of dwellings with no church, while a village proper will normally have a church at its centre.

Alphabetical Listing Continued:


Malpas is a small township in south-west Cheshire, which is typified by its many ancient and distinctive half-timbered buildings. It is in Malpas Parish, part of the ancient Broxton Hundred which includes the hamlets of Bawbrook, Cross o'th'Hill, Ebnal, The Moss and Oathills.
St Oswald's Parish Church is high above the township, and its churchyard probably formed part of a wooden Norman castle which once stood there. To the north of the church, a castle mound can still be seen. There are many other distinctive buildings of note in the town, including the 17th century Tithe Barn, and Church View, a 17th century framed house which was once the Griffin Inn. The lands around Malpas were given to the Cholmondeley family, who were originally Norman barons who came to Cheshire with the Conquest of 1066 and were descended from the half-sister of William the Conqueror. The Cholmondeley Castle is now home to Lavinia, Marchioness of Cholmondeley, mother of the current 7th Marquess, and is not open to the public. Originally the family were given the lands in return for defensive services on the Welsh border, and since then the family has always played a prominent role in the military affairs of the County. Hugh Cholmondeley was rewarded with a peerage as Baron of Nantwich in 1689 and was given the Earldom of Cholmondeley in 1706.


Marple is charming village on the border of the Peak District National Park, now in the Stockport Metropolitan Borough of Greater Manchester. Marple, or "Merpel" as it was first written was not mentioned in the Domesday Survey made by William I in 1086, and was then probably little more than waste land on the boundary of Forest of Macclesfield. Two possibilities are suggested for the derivation of its placename - "maere hop hyll" (meaning "the hill at the boundary valley") or "maere pill" ("the stream at the boundary"). A major building in the village was Marple Hall, built by the Vernons of Haddon Hall during the reign of King Henry VII. The Vernons held the manor until it passed through marriage to Sir Thomas Stanley, second son of the Earl of Derby.
In 1596, the manor of Marple came into the possession of her eldest son, Sir Edward Stanley of Tonge, who being the last of the feudal lords and having heirs sold the estate in 1606. Later, the lands of Marple were bought by the Bradshawe family.
Gradually, over the generations, the manorial rights fell into disuse. In 1940, the novelist and writer Christopher Isherwood inherited Marple Hall following the death of his uncle Henry. However, as a resident of California and a naturalised American citizen he gave the estate his younger brother Richard. In 1954 Richard Isherwood offered the property to Marple Council, but the offer was rejected owing to the badly vandalised and derelict condition of the Hall. By 1957 it was a total ruin, and was taken over by the council who had it demolished and grassed over with a plaque to mark the spot.
Marple marks a major intersection of the Upper and Lower Peak Forest Canals with the Macclesfield Canal and has an important British Waterways Depot Yard on the junction, with a nearby flight of 16 picturesque locks leading down to Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne.
The village of Marple itself is in pleasant rural surroundings, despite its proximity to Stockport. Located alongside the Peak Forest Canal within the beautiful Goyt Valley running through it and overlooked by the Peak District National Park.
In the 1790s, Samuel Oldknow came to the district and began the industrialisation that was to transform the former rural district. Oldknow established his Mill by the River Goyt, sank coal mines, built houses for his workers and made roads. He was also instrumental in the construction of the local canal systems. Today, Marple's industrial and architectural legacy make it well worth a visit, and as recent growth in residential housing shows, it has become a much sought-after location to live in.


Middlewich is one of Britain's chief salt-producing towns and has been so since Roman times. Romans were paid in salt, and the district therefore held a valuable commodity. Middlewich lay on a major Roman road from the Mersey at Warrington to Derby. They named the town "Salinae" (Latin = salt works).
Later, The Saxon invaders from Europe were quick to realise the importance of the town and by the time of the Domesday Survey in 1086 it was rated on account of its large salt deposits. Tudor Middlewich was also known for for its cheese production. But salt has always been its major economy - by 1822 it produced £1,500,000 and paid revenue tax in the region of £32,000 a year into treasury coffers. In 1825, the salt duty was abolished.
By the late 18th century Middlewich had seen the arrival of the canals, which became vital in transporting salt and cheese from Middlewich and coal in from Staffordshire via the Trent & Mersey Canal. Many of Middlewich's houses were built by the waterways companies still survive alongside the towpaths, with adjacent stables for the horses which pulled the narrowboats. Commercial use of the canals declined after the Second World War with improved road and rail transport systems being preferred. However, in recent times, the canals have seen a renaissance in their fortunes as pleasure cruising has caught on as a popular holiday activity, and several boat hire companies have moved into the town to bring the canal system alive again.


A township and parish in the ancient Bucklow Hundred, which includes the hamlets of Baguley Green, Barnes Brow, Burleyhurst, Gorsey Brow, Knolls Green, Newton, part of Paddockhill, Saltersley, Tipping Brow and Woodend. Mobberley Village was said to have been the second largest parish in England, located about 16 miles from Manchester city centre in the northern green belt of Cheshire almost halfway between Macclesfield and Warrington. The distinguished second world war RAF commander, George Leigh Mallory, was born in Mobberley on 18 June 1886, the son of a local vicar.


Before the Norman Invasion Mottram was the centre of a large Anglo-Saxon estate. In 1066 it came into the ownership of William the Conqueror, and by the Domesday Survey of 1086 it had become part of the lands granted to the Earl of Chester. The old parish of Mottram included eight districts - Mottram itself, as well as Godley, Hattersley, Newton, Hollingworth, Tintwistle, Matley and Staley. Various derivations for the place name exist, though the most likely explanation is that it denotes an ancient meeting place (from the Saxon "moot" meaning a meeting or parliament and "ham" indicating a township or settlement).
In the Middle Ages, Mottram was a local religious centre and market town and by the 18th century the manorial courthouse was situated there
By the time of the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century, Mottram had well developed cotton-spinning industries in the locality and by the early 19th century the district also specialised in shoemaking and tailoring. It also lay on on the main stagecoach route from Manchester to Sheffield and was thereby regarded as an important stopover for victuals and rest.
In 1936 the Urban District of Longdendale came into being and Mottram was incorporated, along with Broadbottom, Hollingworth and parts of Hattersley and Matley. The celebrated artist L S Lowry lived in Mottram from 1948 until his death in 1976. The last vestiges of the Industrial Revolution and the local textile industries have long since passed into memory, and nowadays Mottram is a very popular residential area and its mills have been converted into small industrial and commercial units.


Nantwich is an ancient market town located on the River Weaver within the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich in central Cheshire. It has a strong sense of history and identity and has many beautifully preserved houses from various periods, set around an original medieval street pattern with many listed buildings of significant historical interest. Nantwich has long been associated with salt, (one of the so-called three "wiches" of Cheshire - Nantwich, Northwich and Middlewich). It is also a main producer of Cheshire cheese, has a long history of leather tanning, and contains many spectacular black and white half timbered buildings.
The town has survived many disasters in its time - in the 11th Century it was virtually laid waste by the Norman invaders; in the 13th century it was attacked by the Welsh, and in 1583 it was almost destroyed by a great fire. However, the town was rebuilt with financial help from Queen Elizabeth I. It was also repeatedly besieged during the English Civil Wars, when it was a strictly Parliamentarian township. The famous Battle of Nantwich in 1643 is re-enacted annually on 'Holly Holy Day', commemorating the town's liberation from Royalist forces when inhabitants reputedly danced in the streets, and curiously, wore sprigs of holly in their hat bands. In the main town square stands St Mary's Church, a fine sandstone building, known locally as 'The Cathedral of South Cheshire', and is thought to be one of the finest medieval churches in Britain.
Nantwich is also a major canal town, with the Shropshire Union Canal passing through it on a high embankment with a superb Thomas Telford Aqueduct carrying it on its way southwards to the Midlands.


Northwich is located at the virtual centre of the Cheshire Plain at the confluence of the rivers Dane and Weaver. Contemporary Northwich also comprises Great Budworth (the second largest parish in England) and the parish of Davenham. Along with Middlewich and Nantwich, (the so-called three "wiches" of Cheshire), it been a centre for salt mining since Roman times. Roman occupation began in the 1st century AD, when a wooden fort was established in the area. Thereafter, historical records lay silent for some 800 years - until the Norman Invasion.
In Norman times the Budworth district of Northwich belonged to the priests of Norton Priory. The newly created manor of Northwich was ceded by William I to the Earl of Chester, and it remained so until the last died in 1237, when the lands passed to King Henry III's son, Edward, thereafter becoming Royal Manors and the heir apparent from this time becoming the Earl of Chester.
Although in the possession of the Prince of Wales for most of its history Northwich was usually tenanted to other "noble" Norman families, who levied local taxes.
During the Civil Wars, following the Royalist's defeat at the Battle of Nantwich in 1643, Northwich became a Parliamentarian stronghold.
Today, the black and white half-timbered buildings which dominate the centre of Northwich still bear witness to its long history. Also worth visiting is the Salt Museum on London Road in Northwich, and the Lion Salt Works Museum, which can also be viewed from the Trent & Mersey Canal .


A township in Prestbury Parish, in the ancient Macclesfield Hundred, which was combined with neighbouring Worth in 1880 to create Poynton with Worth Civil Parish. Poynton includes the hamlets of Clumber, Coppiceside, Hockley, Lowerpark, part of Midway, Newtown, Petre Bank, Poynton Green and Woodside. Though the township is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, it was almost certainly included in the Manor of Adlington. In earlier times the township was known as "Ponynton" and even "Ponyngton" and was in the possession of the de Stokeport family before passing in the 14th century to John de Warren, a knight at the time of King Edward III. The Warren family held the estates for many years until the early 19th century, when Sir George Warren, the last of the male line, passed them on to his daughter, Viscountess Bulkeley. From her it passed through several notable family ownerships, including the Venables, and finally, the Vernons.
Poynton was in ancient times a predominantly agricultural area, (much as it is today), but it also included forestry and farming of wheat, oats and corn crops as part of its economy.
In the mid-18th century the silk industry was established in Macclesfield and this increasingly provided spinning work for the local population so that by 1812 records show that there were 14 spinners. Later, however, coal mining was to have a profound effect on the local economy. Records show that coal mining of a sort had been carried out in Poynton since 1589, but had probably existed there long before records began.
Poynton is now a thriving small town, a much sought after place to live, midway between Stockport and Macclesfield and in the pleasant Cheshire countryside. It is still a largely farming community, bordering Lyme Park and the Peak District and alongside the picturesque Macclesfield Canal .


Prestbury is a pleasant, affluent township in Prestbury Parish, in the old Macclesfield Hundred, situated on the River Bollin, and located just a few miles on the northern boundary of Macclesfield town. It includes the hamlets of Bradley Mount and part of Withinlee, Butley was also a township in Prestbury Parish, and was combined with Prestbury in 1936. Fallibroome was also added to Prestbury in the same year.
Prestbury is a long and narrow parish stretching along the Bollin Valley towards Wilmslow, and is surrounded by Cheshire dairy-farming country. One of the township's oldest buildings dates back to 1448 - the Priest's House, now a bank, which is an ancient timber-framed.. Also of interest is the Reading Room, a building erected in 1720, this is now housing a branch library, a bank, an estate agent's and the Parish Council Chamber. Dominating the centre, however, is the parish church of St Peter, with an original chapel building of Norman times, largely rebuilt in the 13th century, and substantially restored in 1879 by the notable architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.
See Local Village Website:


Runcorn. Aerial Photograph Courtesy of © 2005

Now in the County of Cheshire. Runcorn has a long history and is first recorded in documentation in 916 AD, when Princess Aethelfreda, daughter of King Alfred the Great, paid a visit to the town to inspect the new fortifications.
Later, in Norman times, as part of the Bucklow Hundred, the Earl of Chester granted the Barony of Halton to Nigel, the Constable of Chester, who soon built a castle to dominate the Mersey estuary. By the 12th Century the castle on Halton Hill had been replaced in stone.
A weekly market and two annual fairs had already come into being during medieval times and there were two windmills in or about the township.
The nearby priory of Norton Abbey (created in 1391) was dissolved in 1536, as part of King Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries following his establishment of the Reformation in England and the severing of all ties with Rome. The Abbey buildings and lands were sold to Sir Richard Brooke who converted them into a home where he and his family were to live thereafter.
During the English Civil Wars Parliamentarian forces took the castle, and then lost it again to the Royalists. Later, on recapturing, they decided to demolish the building, and much of its stone was used in the houses built later in Halton village. By 1656, Runcorn was described as "a fair parish church".
Later, in the 19th century, the arrival of canals changed it into a thriving industrialised township as did the building of the Manchester Ship Canal.
In 1936 the civil parish boundary was extended to include the whole of Weston and part of Halton, and again in 1967 to include the remainder of Halton and parts of Aston, Daresbury, Dutton, Moore, Norton, Preston Brook and Sutton civil parishes. Nowadays it includes the hamlets of Higher Runcorn, Runcorn Heath, Stenhills and Westfield.

See also:

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This page last updated 16 Nov 12.