Nantwich History

Manchester and Liverpool District Bank NantwichShrewbridge Road railway crossing in Nantwich, CheshireTownsend Brewery, NantwichMr Walsh’s Perdita, with jockey up, on Nantwich Racecourse


Nantwich is rich in history.  A Roman road passes north of Nantwich through Reaseheath. Nantwich is mentioned in the Domesday book in 1086.

The 12th  century Nantwich castle no longer exists, but the cathedral of South Cheshire – St Marys church (which was started in the 14th century) is still here.

In 1583 the great fire of Nantwich caused a substantial rebuilding of the town.

Useful Links

Acton Church – the history of a lovely old church.

Alvaston Hall Hotel – why there’s such a jumble of architectural styles, ghosts and a disaster that was kept secret.

Apprenticeships in Nantwich  in 1423 –  with some interesting rules about taverns and adultery!

Brine Baths Hotel – a palatial residence and spa.

Cheshire College of Agriculture – A late 20th century prospectus.

Cheshire Hunt – a fascinating illustrated old book written by a local man.

Cholera in Nantwich – a story of terrible sanitation and were some people buried alive!

Churches Mansion – written by my son over 20 years ago.

James Hall – there’s more to James Hall than just a street!

Making farmhouse Cheshire cheese – a lot has been made in this area.

Nantwich Banks –  Nantwich had its own currency and banks going bankrupt!

Nantwich Fair – Nantwich had its own fair and have you heard this tune?

Nantwich Museum – A lovely museum, which is the home of the town’s history.

Nantwich Pubs – you’ll be amazed how many there were!

Nantwich Racecourse – did you know Nantwich had its own racecourse?

Nantwich Railways – why trains went to Crewe instead of Nantwich!

History of Reaseheath College – Andrew Lamberton’s wonderful history of the college and the area.

Pankhurst family in Cheshire – How Emily’s husband was connected with South Cheshire.

Reaseheath Gardens – a history of the grounds now occupied by Reaseheath College

Roman Road at Reaseheath – photos of an archaeological dig.

The Rookery – an interesting neighbour to Churches Mansion.

Temperance Movement in Nantwich.

The End of the Big Trout – this 1914 obituary is a bit fishy!

The Terrible Leap – a tragic accident at Worleston.

Worleston Dairy Institute – the UK’s first ever college of dairying.

What is a Dabber? – more about the name given to people from Nantwich.

Willaston School – this building, off London Road, has been a small public school for Unitarian families and a Roman Catholic approved school amongst other things!

Other useful links

A Dabber’s Nantwich – a wonderful site written by John Brough.

Britain From Above – old aerial photos.

Cheshire Directories – a collection of directories for Cheshire from 1789 to 1910.

Fear of the Black Hole – a terrifying account of life in Nantwich Workhouse.

Listed Buildings in Nantwich – did you know Nantwich has 132 listed buildings and structures.

Maps of Nantwich – old and new maps of Nantwich and Cheshire.

Nantwich Mill – a history of the mill which was destroyed by fire in 1970.

Nantwich shoemakers’ strike – how they settled dispute in 1872.

Nantwich Web’s history of Nantwich – another great site for local history with information provided by Allan Whatley. Sadly Nantwich Web has now gone – so the link takes you to an archived copy.

Nantwich Workhouse – which later became the Barony Hospital.

Shaming of Margaret Knowsley – a shocking story about a puritanical preacher, who in 1625 in Nantwich tried to rape one of his maidservants. She was the one that got prosecuted!

Shoe making in Nantwich – once an important industry.

St Marys Church – the history of the “Cathedral of South Cheshire”.

A lovely poem

Starting with the salt and brine,
discovered back in Roman times.
This set the scene and from then on,
the town of Wyche Malbank was born.

St. Mary`s Church stood tall and dark,
Elizabethans made their mark,
Cromwell tried to overthrow,
but reached no farther than Welsh Row.

Against the battles, fire and flood,
the citizens of Nantwich stood,
their legacy remains today,
along the river Weaver way.

We thank our forebears for their thought,
the gift their graft and time has wrought.
A pleasure that is always there,
a treasure for us all to share.

Thanks to Joan Crawford for allowing me to reprint the above poem from Odd Odes, Weird Words & Loopy Letters, which nicely sums up the main bits of the history of Nantwich.

Bill Pearson’s Home Page

39 thoughts on “Nantwich History”

  1. I wonder if you have any information about GF and A Brown, Brewers of Nantwich. The reason I ask is that my great, grandmother was the daughter of one of the Brown Brothers. As my grandfather and mother have passed away, I have no one to ask questions. My great grandmother married a Mr Davies (my great grandfather) against her parents wishes. I believe he worked as a coachman for the family. They disowned her which to me is very sad. Unfortunately I have no information about her name or date of birth. I have visited Nantwich Museum but found nothing only a photo of the premises of the Brewery. I have managed to collect a few beer bottles with the name of the firm on them. I would dearly love to know where they lived or any information of any relatives of my age. I am now 74 years old and time is running out for me to gain information. Anything you can furnish me with would be so appreciated.
    Respectfully yours,
    A. Shareen Johnson (nee Evans)

    1. There was a called Brown’s Vaults, which was first called the Swan and was at 47 High Street. It later became the Falcon, then the Spirit Vaults, then the Falcon Vaults and finally became Brown’s Vaults.

      I was aware that it was a Wine Merchant (I’ve emailed you a photo showing this).

      The Nantwich Tavern Survey (in 1960) describes Brown’s Vaults as a long room, semi split with partitions radial to the corners of the half oval bar. The decoration was cream painted – First World War type. The light ale had been on the shelf too long and lacked effervescence. The average age of the locals (both sexes) was 60, with men wearing cloth caps. The atmosphere in this pub was “real Dabber-Ville” and the verdict was – not a good place for the under 50s.

      I’ll be in touch after I’ve done more research.

      I will email you a picture of Brown’s Vaults, and would be delighted to see anything that you have.

    2. Just came across your question a couple of years after you posted it I’m afraid. But the information I have for what it’s worth, is that Brown’s of the Nantwich wine sellers family, lived at Brookbank House, on the Newcastle Rd Nantwich. A large house with outbuildings and coach house etc which have been barn converted into living accommodation.
      There are graves of the same Brown family in Nantwich Cemetery on the Middlewich Road.
      You may of course know this already.
      Regards, Nick

      1. Thank you Nick. I am really grateful for the information about my relatives home Brookbank House, sorry for the delay in replying but I only picked up your message last night. I have always been curious about the Brown family home and I am very pleased to have this information.
        Thank you again. God bless. Shareen Johnson.

  2. Hi wondered if u cud help regarding a pub please.My other half is born and bread here (stefan smith) he says that his mam and dad (hilda and albert)first met in a pub opposite where the Leppard is now.Just wondered what the name was wud of been late 40s early 50s.thanks

    1. That would be the Bull’s Head. The Nantwich Tavern Survey, in 1959, described the pub as a “rather pleasant place”, but observed that the room with the bar was “rather small with a tiled floor and two small tables”. The clientele were described as “fairly well dressed farming types”.

      You can see a bit of the pub on the left hand side of the first picture on my page about the Leopard:
      There will be a nice picture of the landlord (J Bayes), pulling a pint in the 50’s, in the book.

  3. I have been trying to find the origins behind Pepper Street and wondered if you know why it is so called? David Sankey (True Dabber)

    1. I think it used to be called Rat Row! I’m not sure why it’s called Pepper Street – possibly someone sold pepper there (pepper goes well with salt)! James Hall tells us:
      Pepper Street, a name of doubtful etymology, is also found at Chester, Middlewich, and in other places in the County. These three street names are mentioned in the Inquisitions post mortem of Thomas Minshull, and Sir Hugh Cholmondeley, Knight, dated 1604 and 1605.

  4. Bill, I have just found out that the great-grandparents and grandparents of WW1 poet Wilfred Owen were born in Nantwich. They lived in Nixon’s Row and Welsh Row respectively. More information on Wilfred Owen Assoc. Web.

  5. Hi, William Cooke (1683 – 1743) and William Cooke (1712 – 1788) were my ancestors and millers at Nantwich Mill, the latter also owned Batherton Mill, plus a Windmill near to Birchin Lane, and a water works at the bottom of Mill Street, a pub the White Bear also in Mill Street. I have detailed copies of their wills, available to share.
    1788 is an important date for Nantwich Mill, because when he dies in that year, the mill changes from a corn mill to clothing mill.
    The former Cooke was a churchwarden at Nantwich Church and is mentioned in James Hall’s History of Nantwich.

  6. Bill, I notice that at Beam Bridge there is a large entrance to a tunnel directly onto the Weaver. Exactly at the letter B of Beam Bridge on the 1:25000 map. Grid 652536. It can be plainly seen if you take a track to the left of the bridge. Do you know what this is please? Howard Gibson.

      1. Bill, The exact ref. SJ 65140 53547
        A little track to the left of the bridge will take you to the pipe crossing the river, as seen on Google earth. Look right and across the river and you will see the tunnel exit. A substantial size. Please let me know if you require further information. Regards.

  7. Does anyone have any information about Batherton Mill, the remains of which are to be found just to the south of Nantwich. I’d love to know when it was in production or to see some pictures of the building.

  8. You can read more about Batherton Mill in Lost Buildings Around Nantwich, by Andrew Lamberton, and also in Nantwich Museum’s Landscape with Mills booklet (which also covers many other mills in this area). There are references to a mill at Batherton from as far back as 1351.

    1. My great great grandfather and grandfather lived at Batherton Mill during the 1800 ‘s and early 1900’s. There surname was Brookshaw.

    2. My great great grandfather, great grandfather and grandfather lived at Batherton mill during the 1800’s and early 1900’s . Their surname was Brookshaw. Sonia Jaggers

  9. Hello,
    I’m just starting to search for my mothers grandmothers step brother-he was mayor on Nantwich. Any ideas where I can get historic information regarding this. I don’t know any dates for his time as Mayor. His name was Lewis Vaughan.
    Many thanks

    1. There was a Lewis Vaughan born on 5 APR 1866 and living in Hospital Street, Nantwich, Cheshire.
      He died on the 22 FEB 1952 in Alvaston, Nantwich.

      In the censuses, he was a carpenter in 1891, a builder in 1901 and 1911, and a master builder in 1939.

      In the Crewe Chronicle on Saturday 09 January 1932, there’s a Lewis Vaughan who’s Chairman of Nantwich Urban District Council.

      A report in the Crewe Chronicle on Saturday 26 September 1931 tell us:
      Monday in all an eventful day in the local government history of Nantwich. Following the proceedings at Baddiley, the chairman of the Council (Mr. Vaughan) was invested with a gold chain of office, which he and future chairmen will wear at council meetings. It was private affair, and so that the public may know that it has cost the town nothing, it is well to explain that it was provided by private subscription. It has been very appropriately designed with 30 links and medallion pendant with replica of the seal of the Council in the centre, and with descriptive embellishment Micus Malbanum, a name given in honour of the Baronial family of Malbank, by which Nantwich was frequently named in legal record from the time the Norman Conquest. Thus is history in the “Mayoral” chain perpetuated. There are the names of the present chairman, Mr. Vaughan, and of 17 past chairmen, and of future chairmen to be inscribed on the links. It was altogether a very happy day for Mr. Vaughan, who had the distinction of wearing the chain for the first time, and the personal honour of being the first native of Nantwich thus honoured.

    2. Hi Emma,

      Lewis Vaughan was my great grandfather. I am happy to share everything I know about him. He was chairman of the Urban District Council and I have a photo portrait of him in his chain of office

      1. Hi Emma, I am wondering if you know anything of the Fisher Vaughan institute established in Nantwich in the 19th C apparently established by my husbands ancestors . Google searches revealed nothing!

      2. I had father and son ancestors, John and William Vaughan who kept the Boot & Shoe in Hospital Street. William had a son who also lived in the street, named George Vaughan, who became a much revered Chairmaker supplying the London market. The entrance to the Cocao Yard, from Hospital Street, was where is house/shop once stood, before demolition.

  10. Dear Bill,
    Thank you so much , that is very interesting, and so important to keep the history of families . I really appreciate your efforts in getting the information I’m sure it was a little easier for you to know where to start looking than for me , so I am very grateful.
    Thank you ,

  11. Hello, I wonder if you can please help me to locate a property. My father and his younger sister were evacuated to Onchan, Marsh Lane, Nantwich at the start of WW2. I have looked at the 1939 Register and noted several houses along the road have names but no door numbers. They names run as Onchan, Overleigh, Marshfield House, Marsh Mount, Drake’s Croft, and The Gables. After this the house numbers begin at No. 30. I have tried to locate Onchan but there does not seem to be any current information on a property with this name. I am wondering if perhaps house numbers 24, 26 or 26a may have been named Onchan at one time. Do you know if this is so and if not can you suggest where I might get an answer to my question. The resident family at the time were Mr Sampson Bridgwood and his wife Dorothy. He was a Tobacconist.


    1. In 1911 there was a Sampson Copestake Bridgwood living with his wife Emily at 18 Shrewbridge Road in Nantwich. His son, also called Sampson was 4 then. In 1913 the father was a rate collector and market inspector. I suspect that Sampson the younger married Dorothy Nicholls in 1933 in Chester. on the 3 May 1958 the car he was driving, on Nantwich Road Wrenbury, collided with a motorcycle. By then he was living at Millfields in Nantwich. When he died in 1986 he left £53,719. I think his wife died the year before.

      I can’t find any reference to Onchan. I suspect it has been pulled down. Lost Houses in Nantwich tells us that Overleigh was 33 Marsh Lane, so presumably it was next door to there.

      1. Hello

        Thank you for responding to my query. Yes, you have the correct family. Samson and Dorothy Bridgwood are the couple who took in my father and his sister as evacuees from September 1939 to 1940. I will check out the link you have provided and take a closer look at the information I have. My dad said the Bridgwoods were a lovely couple. His elder brother who was also evacuated to the same area was not so lucky with the family who took him into their home.

        Thanks again for your help. Much appreciated.


  12. I lived at 13 Pepper Street, during and just after the war and my first school was Manor Road.
    Does any one have photo of no 13 as it was then?

  13. I have what I think is a temperance jug.
    Below is what is written on it
    Catherine Edge born Dec 8th 1832
    I wish you health
    I wish you wealth
    I wish you heaven after death
    What could i wish you more
    drink water or milk out of me
    I make no drunkards
    Spoil no homes
    Soothe each sorrow and break no bones
    Presented by
    A good old abstainer
    James Rogerson
    Would anyone know who James Rogerson was

  14. Do you have any historical information about Cheerbrooke Farm near Nantwich? I’ve heard it provided work for many people in the 1700s. Was it owned by one person? Did people work it on a crop share basis? Any insight into its operation would be helpful.
    Thank you.

  15. A William Sandes, who died in 1638, is said to have built the water works to prevent future fire from destroying Nantwich. When were the water works put in place?

  16. Bill, Can you tell me when the “Mill” was built that stood over the River Weaver, just downstream from Welsh row bridge. I do remember the Mill. Also is it known, the original course of the Weaver before the Mill was built? Many thanks, Howard.

  17. I’m delighted to have discovered this site with such wonderful info and links to other interesting sites as well. I have great memories of an Oatmarket restaurant in Nantwich in the 1980s, maybe 1987 or 88? I can’t even remember it’s exact location, though, and in fact haven’t been able to find even a mention of it anywhere online. At least I think it was called the Oatmarket, but I’m beginning to doubt myself now. Have I got the right name at all, would you know?
    Many thanks,

    1. The only place that I can think of, on Oat Market, was The Gallery at 4 Oat Market – which had a cafe upstairs.

      That building previously was The Cock.

  18. Hi, I have just unearthed what appears to be a very old ceramic wine or spirit cask which is marked Pickmere and Co Wine and Spirits Merchants Nantwich. The only thing I can find is that they were based at 48 High Street but I’m not able to find when this was. Are you aware of any additional information? I can provide a picture if required.

    1. Hi Rob

      Travers Pickmere ran the Old Vaults at 48 High Street. He was a wine and spirits merchant, and quite a few containers still exist with Pickmere on. The locals called the premises The Potting Shed!

      It’s featured in the Nantwich Pubs book, and had its own ghost.

      He lived at Brookfield House.

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