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Holmes Chapel Village History

Holmes Chapel is a large village of just under 6000 residents; the village centre is about a mile from Junction 18 on the M6, 20 miles north of Stoke on Trent and 25 miles south of Manchester. Orginally on a drovers' route and then coaching routes it was a farming community which had strong transport links with surrounding towns. These links were further enhanced by the coming of the railways and more recently the M6. The impact on Holmes Chapel has been a growth from about 400 residents in the 1800's to almost 6000 now and most of that growth has occurred since the 1950's.

Holmes Chapel is still quite compact and green fields can be reached within a mile of the centre in any direction. Furthermore it has retained its character as a village with a central parish church, several pubs and a good range of private shops.

Although surrounded by mixed farms there have been manufacturing industries in Holmes Chapel for a long time. There is evidence of early iron manufacturing in the area and more recent industries have been wallpaper and pharmaceuticals production. In the 1930's Benger's Food company moved to Holmes Chapel from Manchester. Part of this site is now earmarked for the construction of a supermaket and petrol station, with housing applications already approved for another part. Sanofi Aventis is still operating pharmaceuticals production from this site and will be expanding its operation over the next 5 years.

With good transport links it is not surprising that Holmes Chapel has grown rapidly, especially from 1970 to 1990. Several modern housing estates have been developed around the centre along with the building of a secondary school, now Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, medical facilities (a central Health Centre) and an extended public library.

A large number of societies and clubs are active in the village including the Victoria Club, the Holmes Chapel Music Society, two private Health Clubs and others too numerous to mention.

Holmes Chapel has developed from a small village at a cross roads on the main route from London to Lancashire, catering for travellers at its inns and serving the surrounding farming community.

In its infancy it was known as Church Hulme but has also been known as Hulmes Chapel. Today the name Church Hulme is mainly used for the ecclesiastical Parish of Church Hulme, made up of the townships of Holmes Chapel, Cranage and Cotton.

A chapel has been a feature of the village since earliest times with a church present on the site from at least the 13th century when it was a chapel of ease to the mother church in Sandbach. The Parish Registers date from 1613 and some Bishops Transcripts from 1597. The village built up around the cross roads and the church, forming The Square which was a focal point of the village with many social functions including fairs and a cattle market. That is how it remained for many years with gradual development along the four arms of the crossroads.

The Square is now part of a conservation area which reaches from the mini roundabouts on the north side of the village to approximately Entwistle Green and the carpet shop. The northern boundary was originally formed by the old George and Dragon and the Bulls Head (demolished in 1948) which were either side of Knutsford Road. The old George and Dragon was demolished and rebuilt in its current location in 1970 to make way for the widening of Middlewich and Knutsford Roads.

In 1753 the village consisted of nineteen buildings, but in July of that year, fifteen were destroyed by fire; the Church, the Old Red Lion and two cottages survived. Hence, most of the village buildings are no older than the 18th century.

Of the buildings which survived, the current church is the oldest dating from the 15th century. Although originally of timber frame construction, an extensive 18th century enlargement added the stone facing which can be seen today but the original church including its timber frames and roof are still intact and can be seen inside the current church.

The Old Red Lion dates from the 17th century, (if not before), the earliest documentary evidence found being the will and inventory of Thomas Gandie dated 1625. Many travellers rested here with stage coaches calling daily. In 1738 John Wesley paid his first visit to Holmes Chapel whilst on route from Oxford to Manchester. He rested and preached a sermon at the Red Lion Inn.

Much of the development after the fire was paid for by the principal land owners, the Hall family, who lived at The Hermitage. Several buildings around Holmes Chapel can be seen with a stone showing TBH and a date. T.B.H. was the initials of Thomas Bayley Hall, the last member of the Hall family at The Hermitage. Thomas Bayley Hall's estates were sold to various people after his death in 1828.

The village was mainly self sufficient, serving the local population, surrounding farms (which in turn provided employment) and passing trade.

A forge was established by 1840 although the site is now run by the Dale family as an agricultural engineers and farm supplier's store. Other family businesses which have existed for many generations include Mandeville's bakery (est. 1900), Williams' grocers (1875) (now sold and currently empty) and Morrey's general hardware store (1850). Morrey's relocated to Manor Lane in 2014 and a Sainsbury's Local and Costa Coffee shops now occupy the original site.

For further information on the history of the Railway and the Station click here