The Bednall Archive
Last updated 05/07/2008
Visitors to Macclesfield to-day can still see many examples of the town's 19th century weavers' garretts but few Maxonians would be able to tell them when Macclesfield's earliest "Garrets" were built or where they once stood. Documentary evidence does however exist which sheds some light on those "Tudor Garrets" to which Stella Davies drew attention  and the purpose of this note is to outline some of the information on this topic acquired by the author in the course of other researches.
The origins of the building known as "the Garrets" are uncertain
but they are known to have existed in the early 17th century, for in 1611,
when additions were made to a list of owners of moss rooms (a narrow strip
of Danes Moss from which the owner of burgage land was allowed to cut
peat) originally drawn up in 1509, Robert Adamson received an
allocation for a "tenement on the back of
the Garrets". It is
clear from this that not only were the Garrets built prior to the date at
which these additions were made but that the premises must have been close
to or within the area of original burgage lands i.e. that area of
Macclesfield bounded by Chestergate, Wallgate, The Market Place,
Jordangate, Church Side, Mill Street and Dog Lane . Stella
Davies' assumption that the Garrets had existed since at least 1509 may
well be correct since they are mentioned in a rental of Lord Henry
Stafford's Macclesfield property, drawn up in 1528. At that time, the
property was sub let to a variety of tenants. Richard Methame and
Agnes Greves both rented " taverns under the Garrets" and three
other tradesmen each held "one shop in the Market
Place under the
Garrets". There were at least three chambers (rooms) "in the
Garrets" all of which were let. The rents seem very reasonable for
property in the heart of the town and at the centre of its trading
activity. A shop could be had for 3s 4d (approximately 17d) a year. A
tavern cost substantially less at 2s (10d) and a "chamber in
Garrets" (like that rented by Sir Henry Byrtyll, priest) could be
rented for 1s 8d (8d). The property as a whole brought a return of
eighteen shillings and sixpence (93d) a year to Lord Stafford. Stella
Davies' suggestion that they might have been weavers garrets seems
unlikely to be correct but weaving was probably taking place in and about
the town for Maxfield carseys, a fine smooth cloth, and russets, a coarse,
home spun material, were being sold in Staffordshire before 1574.
References in John Macclesfield's 15th century rent rolls  to -three tenements occupying the site of one burgage and three "underground taverns" in the Market Place- may indicate a 15th century origin for the Garrets. Why the name "Garrets" was associated with this property is uncertain. Property sometimes acquired and retained the name of the family who built or occupied it and members of the Garret family were living in Macclesfield in the 16th century. It is, however, more likely that the name referred to a feature in the construction of the building (or buildings) which was considered unusual at the time it was built i.e. garrets or rooms in the attic, possibly with prominent gables. The Garrets may have started out in life as a substantial gentry residence which was subsequently sub-divided as Macclesfield's trade expanded but it is also possible that it was originally a row of three shops with rooms over built to a uniform design. 
One of Lord Stafford's tenants in 1527 was Edward Jackson who, in addition to a shop under the Garrets, also occupied other property owned by his Lordship in Jordangate, Chestergate and to the West of the Church. This connection is interesting since by the third quarter of the 17th century the Garrets were owned by Adam Jackson, yeoman, of Leek in Staffordshire. In 1674 Adam Jackson sold the property -"called the Garrets ,where John Blagge lives, situated in Jordangate and the Market Place on the south side of the Market House, together with 2 shops and 3 cellars and a shop and chamber at the east end of the Garrets occupied by John Stones butcher"- to John Blagg, mercer, for £170.  This reference indicates that the premises were located at the junction of Jordangate with the Old Market Place, probably next to and just to the north of, the King,s (or common) Bakehouse, and on the eastern side of Jordangate. It also shows that Macclesfield had a "Market House" at this date and this may be the "covered market hall" referred to by Stella Davies.  John Blagge used the property as security for loans from time to time and it formed part of the settlement made on his marriage to Ann Sutton of Manchester but in 1695 the property was conveyed to James Taylor ,a Manchester dyer ,in trust for the use of John Blagge ( a mercer) for life and subsequently to pay off any debts outstanding at his death and to pay his legacies. In 1717 Taylor, who was then one of the executor's of the estate of Blagge's wife Ann, purchased the Macclesfield property for £315 and agreed to discharge a judgement made against Blagge amounting to £600.
By the middle years of the 18th century Macclesfield's "Garrets" had again passed into the hands of a Leek tradesman -William Badnall a mohair/silk dyer of Mill Street, Leek. In his will drawn up in 1758 , Badnall described the property as " All those my several messuages or dwelling houses situate, standing and being at Macclesfield in the County of Chester with all rights, members and appurtenances thereto belonging, commonly called or known by the name of the Garratts, late in the tenure ,holding or occupation of William Swindells but now of Robert Greaves his undertenants or assigns". The assessment for the Land Tax made at Macclesfield about 1755 indicates that the Badnall property was (like the Stafford property) in Jordangate and that its yearly value (nominal rent) was £16 . Some idea of its size and real value can be gained from a comparison with the yearly values of some other Macclesfield properties. It was worth £6 a year more than Thomas Royle's houses and dyehouses; £2 (11%) less than Charles Roe's "Shade and Barn" on Parsonage Green but £9 (38%) less than Messrs Lankford and Roe silk mills. How William Badnall acquired the "Garrets" is uncertain. It may have been part of his first wife's marriage settlement or a bequest in the will of his second wife's father- John Bostock of Congleton. John Bostock was a man of some importance in the day to day life of Congleton in the 1720s and 30s and was Mayor of the town on several occasions. The town had trading links with Macclesfield and John Bostock was related to a Macclesfield (Siddington) tanner -Francis Bostock. Bostock families had lived in Macclesfield for many years and several were capital burgesses at various times but there precise relationship with the Congleton Bostocks is unclear. However, in 1717 a John Bostock was one of the tenants of the "Garrets"and the assessment for the Land Tax in 1743 record the property of John Bostock, in Jordangate, which was then empty and in the hands of his heirs. Was this property the "Garrets" - it is not mentioned anywhere else in the Assessment- and was William Badnall's wife Esther one of the "heirs"?
However he acquired the Macclesfield property, William Badnall disposed of it in his will by leaving it to his daughter Esther "her heirs and assigns for ever". Esther married Richard Pratt, a button merchant of Leek, in 1762 and died sometime before her husband . There is no indication in Richard Pratt's will that he possessed any Macclesfield property ,although his other property-including a silk mill at Knutsford- is mentioned. Of course, it may be that either he and his wife had disposed of the property at an earlier date to provide capital for his business or she may have bequeathed the property to someone else- possibly her brother Joseph Badnall, a very successful silk dyer of Leek, who at the end of the century also owned a small dyehouse on Waters Green, Macclesfield.
William Badnall's will shows that principal tenant of the Garrets in the 1750s was Robert Greaves, a butcher and this is confirmed in the 1757 assessment for church repairs. Thomas Greaves succeeded Robert as the tenant responsible for paying these church dues and was still occupying the "Garrets" in Jordangate in 1772 when the value of the property was approximately £12. In the Land Tax Returns for the 1780s the position is slightly more confused since the only mention of "the Garrets" occurs against John Lowe's name and in a street list headed "Dog Lane".  The ownership and subsequent history of the "Garrets" following William Badnall's bequest to his daughter (1760) is thus uncertain. However, at some time the property became part of the Swythamley Estate who retained certain of the deeds until at least 1989 and it may be that the muniments of the Brocklehursts and other families who have owned Swythamley, will provide additional insight into the history of Macclesfield's earliest garrets. 
At the time when the weaver's garrets which are still a familiar part of its townscape were being built, Macclesfield's "Tudor Garrets" disappeared. The original "Tudor" buildings may have been replaced in the late 18th century but it seems likely that the property on the site of the Garrets was demolished -together with the King's Bakehouse and other property in the Market Place- as part of the alterations made during the building and extension of the present Town Hall.
Macclesfield's earliest "Garrets" were situated in the Market Place. The original, building -probably featuring prominent garrets or attic rooms- was probably built in either the 15th or early 16th centuries . Its subsequent ownership alternated between Macclesfield and Leek (and possibly Congleton) families and in many respects its history is still unclear. This note has been based on a more or less chance accumulation of information and more research is needed to clear up many of the uncertainties -particularly with regard to the original builder; the structure of the building; its uses over the period of its history and its final demise.
 Davies C.Stella p.41, A History of
Macclesfield, E.J.Moreton, Manchester 1976.
 Ibid p.99
 Ibid p.109
 Stafford County Record Office D1810 p.294 Lord Henry Stafford's rental for Macclesfield property.
 Lichfield Joint Record Office Probate Records .re John Heath of Stone 1574.
 Davies C.Stella. p.22,A History of Macclesfield. E.J.Moreton, Manchester 1976.
 Macclesfield Parish Magazine 1893. Transcripts of Macclesfield Parish Registers 1572 to 1665.
 Deeds in possession of the Swythamley Estate 1989 Bundle 36.
 Davies C.Stella p.61 A History of Macclesfield. E.J.Moreton, Manchester 1976.
 Lichfield Joint Record Office (LJRO). Probate Records 1760. The will of William Badnall, dyer, of Leek. Date of will 1758.
 Macclesfield Library .The Birkenhead Collection B/V/3. Undated. Macclesfield Survey for the Land Tax.
 Moorlands Council,Leek. Deeds No.214 re numbers 160 to 168 Mill Street, Leek (Formerly Brindley's House).
 LJRO Probate Records.August 1778 The will of Richard Pratt, Button Merchant of Leek.
Cheshire County Record Office (CRO) Land Tax Returns, Macclesfield 1785 to 1804.
Macclesfield Library. Birkenhead Collection. C/111/13 Assessment for Church Repairs 1757.
CRO Macclesfield P85/9 Assessment for Repairs of Macclesfield Chapel 1772. aa