MACCLESFIELD'S TUDOR GARRETS  

By A.W.Bednall  

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 [1] 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.

Macclesfield Market Place circa 1900.  100 years before, the Garrets would have been in the right foreground.


ORIGINS

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"[2]. 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 .[3]  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.[4] 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 the 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.[5]   

References in John Macclesfield's 15th century rent rolls [6] 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.[7] 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.    [1]


THE GARRETS IN THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES [1]

  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. [8] 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. [9]  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 [10],  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.[11]  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.[12] 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.[13][14]

 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.[15] 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". [14][16]  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.  [1]


THE 19TH CENTURY[1]

  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.[1]


SUMMARY

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.   

  A.W.Bednall, Macclesfield. 16 April 1990 


 REFERENCES

[1] Davies C.Stella p.41, A History of Macclesfield, E.J.Moreton, Manchester 1976.  
[2] Ibid p.99   
[3] Ibid p.109  
[4] Stafford County Record Office D1810 p.294 Lord Henry  Stafford's rental for Macclesfield property.               
[5] Lichfield Joint Record Office Probate Records .re John Heath of Stone 1574.  
[6] Davies C.Stella. p.22,A History of Macclesfield. E.J.Moreton, Manchester 1976.  
[7] Macclesfield Parish Magazine 1893. Transcripts of  Macclesfield Parish Registers 1572 to 1665.                                                                  
[8] Deeds in possession of the Swythamley Estate 1989 Bundle 36. 
 [9] Davies C.Stella p.61 A History of Macclesfield. E.J.Moreton,  Manchester 1976.    
[10] Lichfield Joint Record Office (LJRO). Probate Records 1760.  The will of William Badnall, dyer, of Leek. Date of will           1758.      
[11] Macclesfield Library .The Birkenhead Collection  B/V/3. Undated. Macclesfield Survey for the Land Tax.      
[12] Moorlands Council,Leek. Deeds No.214 re numbers 160 to 168 Mill Street, Leek (Formerly Brindley's House).  
[13] LJRO Probate Records.August 1778 The will of Richard Pratt,  Button Merchant of Leek.       
[14]Cheshire County Record Office (CRO) Land Tax Returns,  Macclesfield 1785 to 1804.      
[15]Macclesfield Library. Birkenhead Collection. C/111/13  Assessment for Church Repairs 1757.      
[16]CRO Macclesfield P85/9 Assessment for Repairs of Macclesfield  Chapel 1772.  aa