Grid Ref: SJ 897 905
Dates: 1 Dec 2004, 28 Nov 2008, 14 Jan 2009, 20 Jan 2014, 3 Feb 2016, 4 Feb 2017 & 7 Aug 2017

St. Mary's in February 2017


Library   Market Plaque
The Public Library   Blue Plaque in the Market Square
Hat Museum   Fabric Map
The Hat Museum   Fabric Map of Stockport
Underbank Hall   Market Hall
Underbank Hall, Jan 2009   Market Hall of 1862 at reopening in 2008
Bank   Town Hall
Built for the Union Bank of Manchester
but now a clothes shop
  The Town Hall
church   Cobden
St. Peter's   Statue of Cobden
Viaduct   Viaduct
Viaduct Arch in Jan 2009   Part of the viaduct in Jan 2014


Stockport does not readily spring to mind as a tourist destination because of its more recent industrial past but it is an ancient town on an important crossing of the Mersey. If you happen to be in the town with an hour or two to spare, the centre is worth exploration. Before the local government reorganisation of 1974, Stockport was the largest town in Cheshire, just ahead of Birkenhead. Its population had risen from 22,000 in 1801 to 93,000 in 1901 and 142,000 by the census of 1861.

There was a church on the site of St. Mary's as early as 1190 but very little of this survives. The church was replaced by a larger building about 1310 of which the chancel remains. Raymond Richards mentions that beyond the altar rail is a triple sedilia and a double piscina in the Decorated style. There is an effigy in a recess in the sanctuary of Richard de Vernon, who was rector from 1306-1334. He was the second son of Sir Ralph de Vernon of Shipbrooke. Richards states that the crowning glory of the chancel is the timber roof built during the time of Richard de Vernon. The only other example of this type of roofing in the county is at Tarvin. There was major rebuilding om 1812-14 in which limestone was employed whereas the chancel was built in sandstone. Richards notes that some fine roofing in the rest of the church was lost in the 1812 restoration and that the church was so solid that gunpowder was needed to remove some of the foundations. In a further restoration of 1848, the Vernon Chapel was destroyed.

Pevsner, in introducing the town, remarks that the last remains of the Stockport Castle were destroyed in 1775. It was built in the late 12th century and lay just NW of the church. The site was used by Sir George Warren to build a circular cotton mill with battlements.

Nearer the Mersey at St. Peter's Gate is the church of St. Peter built in 1768 at the expense of William Wright. Pevsner describes it as modest, built of brick with arched windows with an octagonal top to the tower. The chancel dates from 1888 an there is a west gallery. Near the church is the Cobden Monument by George G. Adams dating from 1862. In 1838, Richard Cobden and John Bright founded the Anti-Corn Law League, aimed at abolishing the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread. As a Member of Parliament for Stockport from 1841, he fought against opposition from the Peel ministry, and abolition was achieved in 1846. In 1847 he became MP for the West Riding of Yorkshire. There is also a statue of him in St. Anne's Square, Manchester.

The Central Library in Wellington Road South was built between 1912 and 1913 by Bradford, Gass and Hope in a style reminiscent of the Queen Anne period. The Railway viaduct across the Mersey has 27 arches. It was built between 1839 and 1840 just ten years after the first scheduled passenger service opened from Manchester to Liverpool. Architect was G. W. Buck.

The fabric map shown above was made by 280 young people. It hangs in the former Produce Hall and shows the districts of Reddish, The Heatons, Cheadle Heath, Gatley, Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Heald Green, Bridgehall, Bramall, Bramall Park, Woodford, Edgeley, Adswood, Davenport, Offerton, Hazel Grove, High Lane, Strines, Marple, Mellor, Romiley, Compstall, Woodley, Greave, Bredbury, Brinnington and Heaviley.

The Town Hall was built between 1904 and 1908 by Sir Alfred Bramwell Thomas. Pevsner describes it as in a William & Mary style with a Wren middle tower too high and too heavy for the body of the building. The Market Hall dates from 1862 while the Produce Hall was built in 1852. It was originally a single storey building but was adapted in 1875 to produce an upper storey for use as a library.

Underbank Hall is Elizabethan, dating from the late 16th century. It was the town house of the Arderne family of Harden Hall at Brinnington. The original house must have been larger as an inventory of 1619 lists more rooms than surive today. In the 1820s the Arderne family fell on hard times as a result of the gambling of William Arderne, 2nd Baron Alvanley and family property had to be sold. The hall was sold for 3,000 guineas (for younger readers a guinea was £1 1 shilling or £1 and 5 pence in modern reckoning) in September 1823 to four partners who founded the Stockport and East Cheshire Bank in the following year. At that time the Elizabethan residence had Georgian additions. In 1829, the Stockport and Cheshire Bank became part of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company. By 1880 this bank had 54 branches, in Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire. The bank changed its name to the District Bank in 1924 and in 1962 was acqured by the National Provincial Bank. Then in 1970 this bank merged with the Westminster Bank to form the modern National Westminster Bank. Visitors may see the interior but photography is not allowed for security reasons. However, the bank is happy to make pamphlets available describing the building and its history.


Hall   Plaque on Hall
Woodbank Hall   Plaque on Woodbank Hall
Museum   Horse memorial
Vernon Park Museum   Memorial to animals killed in war
boulder   Fountain
Glacial erratic boulder found at Edgeley now outside the museum   The top of drinking water fountain in Vernon Park


Stockport has Woodbank Memorial Park and Vernon Parks adjoining, running on the south bank of the River Goyt near the town centre. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a Grade II* listed building, having been designated on 10 March 1975.

Vernon Park was built by Stockport Corporation on land donated by George John Warren (Lord Vernon). It was opened on 20 September 1858 and was an instant success with mill workers helping to construct park features. The American Civil War in the 1860s prevented import of cotton and as a result many mill workers were unemployed. As they were so hungry they nicknamed the park "Pinch Belly Park". The park, which was Grade II listed in 1995, received a £2.1 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore it and was reopened on 29 September 2000. There is a detailed description of the park and its origins on the Historic England site. A list of all the features of the park is found on the Friends of Vernon Park site.

The carved inscription above the doorway of the Vernon Park Museum reads: "Erected and presented to the inhabitants of the Borough of Stockport by its Parliamentary Representatives, James Kershaw Esqr. and John B Smith Esqr. MDCCCLX (1860). In addition to the gardens and bandstand, Vernon Park also has a memorial to animals killed in war and features the statue of a horse and mule

Also in the Stockport area are Bramall Hall, Stockport Museum and Chadkirk Chapel. The Art Gallery lies almost opposite the Town Hall.  For further pictures see my walk in Stockport in November 2008


The Arderne/Arden family of Aldford, Alvanley and Harden

Harden Hall, was a moated manor house on the river Tame about 5 miles from Stockport. By the time Earwaker was writing in the 1870s it was in a ruinous state with only half still standing but he gave a detailed description of it based on earlier reports and old engravings. He believed that it was built about 1597 from an inscription on a spout above the entrance. Earwaker remarks that in addition to Harden Hall the Arderne family owned the timber framed house at Underbank in Stockport and Pepper Hall in Yorkshire. Among the pictures at Underbank, some came from from the Done family of Utkinton (see generation 18 in the second tree below). There were portrats by Sir Peter Lely and Godfrey Kneller. When the estates were sold about 1815 the contents of Harden Hall and Underbank were sold by auction.

The Arden family has several branches in Cheshire. The senior branch traces its ancestry to the early 12th century, but at the time that Ormerod was writing there was still uncertainty about the first seven or eight generations.. A simplified tree, based on that in Ormerod with some additions from Earwaker is show below starting with Alexander de Arden.

There is a complicated set of circumstances in generations 8 and 9. John de Arderne in generation 8 married three times and also had illegitimate children. He married first Alicia Venables and after her death first Johanna daughter of Sir Richard de Stokeport, then his cousin, Ellena, daughter of William de Wastneys. He had no children by his second wife but during his life he had the manors she brought him of Stockport, Poynton and Woodford. At the inquistion post mortem his son Peter was declared heir. It is from this Peter that Ormerod claims there is definitive proof from a series of deeds, of the descent of the Ardernes of Alvanley. He then goes on to say "but first it is necessary to unravel the most intricate knot in the Cheshire pedigrees". This relates to Thomas de Arderne, ancestor of the Ardernes of Aldford. During his father's life he recovered the manors of Aldford and Nether Alderley. It appears that Thomas was illegitimate and the complicated trail of evidence showing how land went down the illegitimate line is traced by Ormerod but not repeated here. Ormerod then follows the line from Peter Arderne in generation 9.

Earwaker's East Cheshire has some differences to Ormerod's work and they are noted in the text. Earwaker begins his family tree for the Ardernes of Harden in generation 4 below, with Sir John Arderne.

Note that dates between 1 January and 24 March in the years between 1582 and 1752 are given in the format 1723/4 indicating that it was 1723 on the Julian Calendar until 25 March.   The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in several countries from 1582 but not in England until 1752 when the start of the New Year was made 1 January instead of 25 March, Lady Day on the former Julian Calendar.





East Cheshire Past and Present by J.P. Earwaker, London, 1877. Now available from the Family History Society of Cheshire on CD ROM .

The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, incorporated with a republication of King's Vale Royal and Leycester's Cheshire Antiquities, 2nd Ed., revised and enlarged by Thomas Helsby, Esq., published by George Routledge and sons, Ludgate Hill, London, 1882. This is now available from the Family History Society of Cheshire on CD ROM. A reprint of the work was published by Eric Morten of Didsbury.

Old Cheshire Churches, with a supplementary survey of the lesser old chapels of Cheshire, completely revised and enlarged by Raymond Richards, first published in 1947 and reprinted by E. J. Morten, Didsbury, 1973.

The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, first edition 1971, Yale University Press edition in 2003.

The Story of Underbank Hall, Stockport, pamphlet available from NatWest in the banking hall.

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