Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for NANTWICH

NANTWICH, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Cheshire. The town stands on the river Weaver, the Grand Junctioncanal, and the Crewe and Shrewsbury railway, at thejunction of the Nantwich and Market-Drayton railway, 4¼ miles S W by W of Crewe. Its name is derived from the "nant" or vale of the Weaver, and from the Saxon word "wich, " signifying "a salt town; " was temporarily changed into Wich-Malbanc, after William de Malbanc, who once held the manor; and has frequently beenwritten Namptwich. Salt-works, which gave rise to the name, drew their supplies from brine-pits or brine-springs, and were early and long of great importance. The brine-pits, in the time of Henry III., were closed by the king's command, in order to distress the Welsh, who carried on a great traffic hence in salt; but, on the return of peace, they were re-opened; and they continued, for many years, to be a main and increasing source of employment and sustenance to the inhabitants. So many as 400 salt-works were here when Leland wrote, in the time of Henry VIII.; they were reduced to 216, some belonging to the Crown, some to the Earl of Derby, and some to local proprietors, in the early part of the time of Elizabeth; they were further reduced to about 108, in consequence of the discovery of better brine-pits in other parts of the Weavers' vale, in the year 1624; and they gradually declined thence till at last they became extinct. The salt-spring which is supposed to have been the first discovered still exists; bears the name of the Old Bait spring; and, though only 6 feet distant from the river, retains its original strength of brine. A battle is said to have been fought in the vicinity, between the English and the Welsh, in the time of William the Conqueror. Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, held the manor; and he built a castle here for defence against the Welsh. The Welsh nevertheless, devastated the town in 1113; and they attempted to devastate it again in 1146, but were then repulsed and beaten. Edward I. visited the town in 1282, and gave to several of the inhabitants a protection against seizure of comestible property on account of the approach of the Welsh army. Great fires laid waste the town in 1438 and 1583; and great pestilences scourged it in 1587 and 1596. James I. visited it in 1617, and was entertained by Mr. Wilbraham. The royalists seized it in 1642; the parliamentarians speedily retook it, and placed a strong garrison in it; and the royalists, under Lord by ron, laid siege toit in Jan. 1644, pressed the siege with the utmost vigour, and were routed by a force under Fairfax. Harrison, the parliamentarian general, Gerarde, the herbalist, and Whitney, the poet, were natives; the widow of Miltonresided several years in the town, and died in it; and the Marquis of Cholmondeley takes from it the title of Baron.

The town consists chiefly of irregularly built streets, and contains a considerable number of ancient houses. A one-arched stone bridge spans the Weaver; an ironbridge of the canal spans the public road; and an aqueduct of the canal crosses the Weaver at the lower part of the town. The town hall stands on the bank of the Weaver, near the aqueduct; is a brick and stone structure, in the Gothic style; and contains, in the lowerpart, a corn exchange, and a mechanics' institution reading room, in the upper part, rooms for public meetings and concerts. The market-hall was built in 1866, at a cost of about £3,500; measures 165 feet by 65; is in the Tudor style; and has, in the chief front, two gables and a central block tower. The police station, with residence for the superintendent, is in Welsh-row. The Manchester and Liverpool banking office stands in Churchyard-side; and is a neat stone building, in the pointed style. The savings' bank, in Welsh-row, is a neat brick structure of 1846. The parish church is partlyearly English, partly perpendicular, but chiefly deco-rated; is cruciform; measures 156 feet from E to W, and 111 feet from N to S; has a central, octagonal, pinnacled tower, 110 feet high; has also a groined roof, and large W windows; was restored in 1865; and contains good sedilia, splendid canopied stalls, a richly carved but dis-used stone pulpit, an exquisitely carved font, and several monuments. The Independent chapel is in Monks-lane, and contains about 750 sittings. The Wesleyan chapel is in Hospital-street, and contains about 900 sittings. The Baptist chapel is in Barker-street; the Quakers, chapel, in Pillory-street; the Primitive Methodist chapel, in Welsh-row; the United Free Methodist chapel, in Castle-street; and the Unitarian chapel, in Hospital-street. The grammar school stands in Welsh-row; is a recent and neat brick edifice; and has an endowed income of £11. The national school stands near Beam-street, and is a large brick building of 1837. The mechanics' institution was founded in 1846; and has a public news-room, and an excellent library. Three suites of alms-houses have respectively £51, £46, and £32 a year from endowment; and an apprenticing charity has £180. The total yearly amount of endowed charities, including schools and alms-houses, is about £762. The workhouse stands on Beam-heath, about a mile from the centre of the town; and is a brick edifice, with capacityfor about 360 inmates. The town has a head post-office, ‡a railway station, and two chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions, and a polling-place; and publishes a newspaper. A weekly market is held on Saturday; a cattle market is held on every Saturday, from March till June; fairs areheld on the Saturday after 2 Feb., 26 March, the second Tuesday of June, 4 Sept., and 4 Dec.; the manufacture of leather, shoes, and boots, is carried on; and there is a cotton factory. Acres of the town, 696. Real property, £14, 363; of which £130 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 5, 579; in 1861, 6, 225. Houses, 1, 310.

The township is conterminate with the town.The parish contains also the townships of Alvaston, Woolstan-wood, and Leighton, and part of Willaston. Acres, exclusive of the part of Willaston, 3, 165. Real property, exc. of the part of Willaston, £18, 996; inc. of the whole of Willaston, £22, 476. Pop., inc. of the part of Willaston, in 1851, 6,018; in 1861, 6, 763. Houses, 1, 417. The chief residences in the neighbourhood are Crew Hall, Cholmondeley Castle, Peckforton Castle, Doddington Hall, Doddington Park, Combermere Abbey, Dorfold Hall, Dorfold Park, and Shrewbridge Hall. The manor of Woolstanwood belongs to F. E. Massey, Esq. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Chester. Value, £300.* Patron, Lord Crewe.—The sub-district contains all Nantwich parish except the part of Willaston township, all Acton parish, and Minshull-Vernon township. Acres, 21, 460. Pop. in 1851, 9, 411; in 1861, 10,062. Houses, 2,054. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Bunbury, containing the parishes of Bunbury, Tarporley, and Church-Minshull, and the township of Wettenhall; the sub-district of Wrenbury, containing the parish of Baddiley, the Wrenbury and Audlem township of Newhall, the Wrenbury townships of Wrenbury-with-Frith, Chorley, Woodcott, Broomhall, Sound, and Dodcott-cum-Wilkesley, the Audlem townships of Audlem, Buerton, and Hankelow, and the Malpas townships of Cholmondeley, Egerton, Bickerton, and Bulkeley; and the sub-district of Wybunbury, containing the parishes of Coppenhall and Wistaston, and the townships of Willaston, Weston, Basford, Shavington-cum-Gresty, Rope, Stapeley, Walgherton, Wybunbury, Hough, Chorlton, Lea, Blakenhall, Checkley-cum-Wrinehill, Bridgemere, Hunsterson, Doddington, Hatherton, Batherton, Warmingham, Haslington, Barthomley, and Crewe. Acres, 111, 126. Poor-rates in 1863, £14, 168. Pop. in 1851, 35, 941; in 1861, 40, 955. Houses, 8,079. Marriages in 1863, 304; births, 1, 619, of which 150were illegitimate; deaths, 909, of which 401 were at ages under 5 years, and 19 at ages above 85. Marriagesin the ten years 185160, 2, 636; births, 13, 573; deaths, 7, 788. The places of worship, in 1851, were 32 of the Church of England, with 11, 756 sittings; 1 of English Presbyterians, with 104 attendants; 7 of Independents, with 1, 204 sittings; 5 of Baptists, with 1,007 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 300 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 188 s.; 31of Wesleyan Methodists, with 5, 963 s.; 49 of Primitive Methodists, with 3, 858 s.; 11 of the Wesleyan Association, with 1, 402 s.; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 200 attendants; and 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 16 at. The schools were 37 public day-schools, with 3, 436 scholars; 60 private day-schools with 1, 380 s.; and 67 Sunday schools, with 4, 866 s. The hundred contains ten parishes, and parts of three others; and is cut into two divisions, Nantwich and Audlem. Acres of the N. div., 39,037. Pop. in 1851, 18, 568. Houses, 3, 550. Acres of the A. div., 46, 891. Pop. in 1851, 10, 282. Houses, 2,009. Pop. of the whole in 1861, 34, 292. Houses, 6, 778.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Nantwich CP/Ch       Nantwich Hundred       Nantwich SubD       Nantwich PLU/RegD       Cheshire AncC
Place names: NANTWICH     |     OLD BAIT SPRING
Place: Nantwich

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