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History of Rainow

Please find below an insight into our fantastic village. This information has been painstakingly compiled by one of our residents, Richard Leigh.



This site records some of the interesting history, institutions, customs and characters of the village of Rainow, Cheshire.

This web site is only a pathfinder, the documents listed in the Bibliography below are primary sources and contain vastly more information. Some documents are available for download.


Rainow lies in the foothills of the Pennines straddling the Cheshire boundary of the Peak District National Park. The village gets its name from the Old English Hraefn Hoe meaning Ravens' Hill, an indication that the area was once a wilderness. The closest town is Macclesfield.

The western boundary runs along the crest of Kerridge hill (Key Ridge from the Old English Caeg Hrycg). The hill has a maximum altitude of 313 metres, but descends steeply into the River Dean valley. The heart of the village lies to the east of the river. Moving further eastward, through Gin Clough to Saltersford then on to Pym Chair the land begins to rise again, eventually to over 1,600 feet along The Tors at the eastern boundary. The village is bounded to the north west by Bollington, to the north by Pott Shrigley and to the south by Macclesfield Forest. The B5470 is the principal highway through the village.

The hamlets of Brookhouse, Bull Hill, Calrofold, Cester Bridge, Charles Head, Eddisbury, Four Lane Ends, Gin Clough, Gorseybrow, Harrop, Hedgerow, Hough Green, Hough Hole, Ingersley, Jenkin Chapel, Kerridge End, Lamaload, Nab End, Pedley Fold, Plungebrook, Redmoor Brow, Saltersford, Tower Hill, Walker Barn, Waggonshaw Brow and Yearns Low all lie within the parish boundary. Each name tells a tale.


Early History

There is evidence of a late Neolithic and Bronze Age (c. 2,500 B.C.) presence in the environment. Standing stones (megaliths) still stand at Washpool and Pike Low. Their original purpose was probably to signpost tracks across undeveloped ground that once formed part of a ridge way that ran the length of England. Barrows (tumuli) can still be seen in the landscape at Black Rock, Yearns Low, Blue Boar, Further Harrop and Charles Head.

Prior to the Norman Conquest, East Cheshire was primarily oakwood forest and remnants of ancient sessile oak remain at Thornset Farm. After the county was harried and subdued during the winter of 1069-70, William the Conqueror granted it to his nephew, Hugh d'Avaranches who became the first Earl of Chester. The Domesday Book of 1086 includes the Manor of Macclesfield and its woodland, Macclesfield Forest. After the Civil War the Forest, being Crown Lands, was confiscated by the Parliamentarians who then divided up the ground between their supporters. Many of the local farms were established during this period. After the Restoration the Forest returned to the King's Steward, but the distribution of land by grant, lease or purchase continued.

Houses & People

The first recorded dwelling in Rainow is the One House, by the Buxton Road just a quarter of a mile inside the parish. This dwelling was mentioned as part of the grant made to Richard Davenport when he was created a Forester around 1150. In the late 16th Century it passed into the Hulley family who lived there for four hundred years. Five Hulleys were Mayor of Macclesfield and the family was a noted benefactor to the Church, the Poorhouse and the National School.

In 1380 Rainow had 30 houses and sometime before 1416 a corn mill was built.

Saltersford Hall, described in Bagshaws Directory of 1850 as a "curious old mansion", lies a quarter of a mile south of Jenkin Chapel. The hall was built in 1595 as the family seat of the Stopford family; one of whom, James Stopford, was a lieutenant in the army who in 1762 was made an Irish peer as the 1st Earl of Courtown. In 1796 his son was created Baron Saltersford in the Peerage of Great Britain and this title gave him and his descendants a seat in the House of Lords. The family has a long and distinguished record of service in the army, navy and government. Patrick Courtown, the current and 9th Earl, is actively engaged in government as one of the 90 hereditary peers elected to serve in the House Of Lords.

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In the Georgian and Victorian times rows of cottages were built at Brookhouse, Chapel Lane, Church Lane, Sugar Lane, Tower Hill and Washpool.

Twentieth century development greatly increased and diversified the housing stock. The Round Meadow estate was built in 1928 on the ground between Taylor Lane and Chapel Lane. The Millers Meadow estate was built in the 1960s between Chapel Lane and Hayles Clough.

Here is an illustration of how the population of Rainow has changed over two centuries.

Click the graph to see the basis data along with the number of recorded households, courtesy of The Office of National Statistics.

It is interesting to see that the number of people per household has declined from a peak of 5.6 in 1831 to 2.6 in 2001.

Note that there was no national census in 1941. A bit of bother abroad apparently.

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