Little Moreton Hall,
15th Century Manor
Saxon Crosses,
Sandbach
Ford Green Hall
17th Century Farmhouse


 

emblem of the town of Biddulph Biddulph

Biddulph grew to significance as a result of its coal measures (at one time there were five large collieries operating in the area) plus 'ironstone' quarries and deposits of fine sand for the pottery industry. There was also a silk mill and a factory for making spades and shovels.

Two derivations of the town's name are commonly offered. One is that it is from the Anglo Saxon 'bi dylfe' meaning 'beside the pit or quarry'. The alternative idea is that it is from the Saxon 'Bidulfe' meaning 'wolf slayer'.

Nowadays, the town is known as the Garden Town of Staffordshire. It has two country parks, the Biddulph Valley Way, which is part of the National Cycle Network, and Biddulph Grange Victorian garden, owned by the National Trust.

The source waters of the River Trent rise just to the east of the town, close to the village of Biddulph Moor. The Trent flows for more than 170 miles (275 km), reaching the North Sea at the Humber Estuary.

 

emblem of the town of Congleton Congleton

Congleton is an ancient market town known as 'Bear Town' because bear baiting used to be a popular sport there in Elizabethan times.  It's said that when the town's bear died just before their Annual Wakes celebrations the town used the money set aside to buy a bible, to purchase a new bear instead, so as not to spoil their celebrations! 

There are signs of human settlement in the area dating back to Stone Age times. The Bridestones, about 3 miles along the road heading east from Congleton to Rushton Spencer, is a tomb thought to have been built in Neolithic times.  Also three miles east of the town is The Cloud, a gritstone-topped hill, owned by the National Trust, which is clad in heather and pine trees and provides great views from its 1,100 foot (340 metre) summit. 

See also a history of Congleton.  For the story of Congleton's development from early times, see a description of its entry in the  Domesday Book and the many charters awarded to the town and its people. See also further attractions in and around Congleton.

 

emblem of the town of Middlewich Middlewich

There has been a settlement at Middlewich since at least the time of the Roman occupation of Britain. As indicated by the term wich in its name, Middlewich has long been an important centre for the extraction of salt.  In earlier years it was also known for its production of Cheshire cheese and silk.
 
Parts of the parish church of St. Michael and All Angels date back to the 12th century.
 
Middlewich has long been noteworthy as a communications centre. It lies on the confluence of three rivers: the Dane, Croco and Wheelock. Three canals also pass through the town, the Shropshire Union, the Trent and Mersey and the Wardle.  Because the town is well known today for its canals and heritage, it has become a tourist centre.  For example, The Folk and Boat Festival is now one of the most successful events in the English Folk Music calendar.

See also the nearby attractions listed by Middlewich Today and Middlewich Heritage.

 

emblem of the village of Bosley Bosley

Bosley lies in the valley of the River Dane, below the landmark hill-top of The Cloud.  The name is thought to originate from Bosleah, meaning 'Bosa's Wood', though some suggest 'Boar's Lee'.  The Methodist church was built in 1885, replacing a Wesleyan chapel dating from 1832.

The centre of the village is adjacent to the main road between Macclesfield and Leek, but there is a another part tucked in a hollow by the River Dane, set below the gritsone bluff of The Cloud, a beautiful spot managed by The National Trust.

The land in the area, once in the hands of the family of William, Duke of Normandy, passed to a succession of wealthy land-owners. Latterly, ownership passed to the Harringtons, recognised in the name of one of the village pubs, The Harrington Arms.

See also the community web site for the village.

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tractors gather for a Plough Service at Davenport Chapel Davenport

The village of Davenport lies just west of Congleton, in the parish of Astbury, and on the road from Congleton to Holmes Chapel.  Nearby lies Brereton Heath Country Park, one of many examples in this part of the world of a rehabilitated sand quarry. Davenport Methodist Chapel was founded in 1834. The Venables family from Lightwood Farm were the driving force behind the move to build it

The village's origins go back deep into English history.  It is stated that it was as a result of the village's destruction by the Vikings, that its function as a market was taken over by Congleton.   The name 'Davenport' means the gateway (port, entry) to the River Daven, nowadays known as the River Dane.  One source records that the word 'Dane' / 'Daven' / 'Dan' means 'river'.  In times past, the river was navigable and therefore important for transportation, so a 'port' giving access to the river was an important place.  The Dane/Daven rises in the Pennines south-west of Buxton and flows past Bosley, Congleton, Holmes Chapel and Middlewich, to join the Weaver at Northwich.

Davenport was one of the earliest surnames in Britain. The name dates back to the time of the conquest by William Duke of Normandy who strengthened the power of his crown by building castles and giving the confiscated land of rebels to his followers. The Davenports were among these followers given land titles. Ormus de Davenport is listed as one of the Norman King's primary supporters. During this time robbers roamed the forests of Leek and Maccesfiled. An ancient roll shows that these bandits were captured by forces which included several Davenports.

 

Joddrell Bank Radio Telescope, near Goostrey Goostrey

Goostrey held its first Methodist meetings in Bridge House, down Church Bank, below St. Luke's Anglican Church. The village's own Methodist church building was established in 1875, funded by subscriptions and collections. The funding and subsequent management was conducted through a trust. The building was enlarged in 1930 and a Sunday School built in 1955, funded from savings.

Despite its small size (population just over 2,000) Goostrey boasts fourteen buildings listed as being of historical or architectural importance. At one of these, Grade-A listed St Luke's Church, there is a yew tree believed to be 1,200 years old.

The village name may mean 'the tree belonging to Godhere', the Saxon. In the Domesday Book the village was registered as 'Gostrel'.

See also the community web site for the village.

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'The Cloud' hill top near Key Green Chapel Key Green

The small community of Key Green with its Chapel nestles below Bosley Cloud, a prominent hill and bluff rising to 1190ft above sea level. It is a very popular place for walkers and visitors from far and wide, who like to hike to the top of The Cloud and admire the unrivalled 360 degree panorama of eight counties. A Toposcope, “A Window on the World for the Cloud”, has been erected on the top of The Cloud, near the Ordnance Survey’s old ‘trig point’. It highlights the points of interest to be seen and was built in 2002 by the National Trust and local residents to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Key Green is situated on the edge of the village of Timbersbrook, where there is evidence of industrial activity since 1777. Uses of the mill established there have included cotton spinning, silk spinning and silk throwing, plus bleaching and dyeing. The Silver Springs Bleaching and Dyeing Co. started operating in 1902 and employed about 200 people.  They were the economic mainstay of the immediate area. The works used the Timbers Brook which flowed from the mill pool. The company finally closed in the 1960s. Eventually the site was purchased by Congleton Council who landscaped it and turned it into an attractive picnic area. It is now a very popular site for families, walkers and horse riders. Walkers use it as a base to park and to access the Gritstone Trail and Biddulph Valley Way

Timbersbrook Social Group started in 1977 and has operated on and off ever since. The present aim of the group is “To improve our local environment and to promote a community spirit.” This has been achieved by fund raising to rebuild the local bus shelter, refurbish the sign post and adopt the phone box, turning it into an information point and free library. The group organises village activities and fund raising events. Key Green Chapel is used for many of the events, including line dancing, WI courses and private functions. 

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Maypole dancing on the village green at Lower Withington, celebrating Rose Day Lower Withington  

Lower Withington lies in an area of farming and quarrying. The name means 'the village' ('tun') 'in the willows' ('withig'). The Methodist chapel was built in 1808. On Rogation Sunday, the minister, the local vicar and their congregations, walk the local fields to bless the livestock and crops. The brass band supports carol singers as they sing their way round the houses and farms at Christmas time.

The village is in the north of the Circuit area. It is tucked into the wedge formed by the A34 as it runs north from Congleton, and the A535 as it runs north from Holmes Chapel, to where they join at Alderley Edge.

The village featured in the Domesday Book. The owner of the manor from the 1360s was one of the Baskervyle family, whose ancestor had travelled with William the Conqeror's invasion force. From the late 1600s, the manor was owned by the Mainwaring family.

See also the community web site for the village.

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Mow Cop 'Castle' (folly) Mow Cop

Mow Cop prominent hill top has long been both a spiritual site and source of gritstone (course sandstone), e.g. for millstones. Mow Cop Castle, built in 1754, was originally a summer house for the Wilbraham family, though part was a folly to improve the view from their home on the Cheshire lowlands!

'Primitive Methodism' originated here, its followers seeking a simpler form of worship than the Wesleyan form of Methodism.  It is commemorated by a memorial stone near the Castle. An early aspect was outdoor worship at 'camp' meetings, which are repeated each year, to this day.

The village is in the south of the Circuit area, perched at the end of the gritstone ridge that runs south from Congleton.  The Cheshire / Staffordshire border runs along this ridge, which means that the village population is partly in one county and partly in the other. 

The name of the village is thought to derive from the Old English word muga (for 'Mow'), meaning a heap, and the Old English word cop, meaning a hill.  The 'heap' part is supposed to refer to a cairn which even in those far-off days marked a boundary point!

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