HUDC Handbook

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

The Hoole Urban District Council "Handbook" of 1947 contains a history of Hoole as seen at the time, but is a historical document in of itself. The following article looks at whether it presents the history of Hoole in an accurate way. The images in the gallery below show the entire handbook and can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Council Handbooks

Council Handbooks are in some ways a phenomenon peculiar to their time and frequently reflect a very regulated attitude to society during the 30's and 40's. They were frequently supported by advertising and a very large number were produced just after ww2. Some go into rather extreme detail. The Welwyn Garden City "Citizens Handbook" of 1948, included a Directory of Roads which gives, for each house in each road the name of the "head of the household", and, a Directory of Residents which is a single alphabetic list of names of heads of households giving the street address for each name. These handbooks frequently contained a fold out map. Pyramid Press seem to have printed a huge number of them (the Hoole Guidebook is Number 158 and is a relatively early one) and as there are many far more local printers it might be suspected that Pyramid had found a lucrative market niche in persuading UDC's to produce a Handbook to a more or less set formula - using local "historians" to provide content at no cost to the publisher.

The Handbook sticks to the general pattern of the other Pyramid Press guides, with the covers being printed in colour and bearing the arms of the place in question. The arms of Hoole are discussed in more detail in the article "Coat of Arms" on this website. A few pages of advertising follow and page 7 is the standard front plate of guides in the series giving some acknowledgement to those who probably provided content free of charge. Page 10 contains some general information which could have been more conveniently placed on the back cover, but that is reserved for lucrative advertising. The "history" takes up about three pages. Space in this rather short booklet is devoted to a contents page, a list of advertisers and a list of illustrations. The fold-out map is in the house style of Pyramid Press and identifies some of the landmarks noted in the text. Most, but not all streets are named with Pipers Lane being "Bye-passed", and Pickering and Walker Streets passing unmentioned despite being named after people with a significant history. "The Street", a noted Roman road, simply becomes an extension of Mannings Lane.

A gallery of pages from the booklet

A Catalog of Blunders?

The HUDC Handbook of 1947 is a good example of occasionally "innaccurate" historical writing. It contains some statements which the HH&HS have realised are errors, bases history on hearsay and in one place relies on a witness who was known at the time to be a forger. Is there any malice in this? - almost certainly not, but it does illustrate the difference between historical documentation that could be taken at face-value, and that where the methodology of the writer and/or publisher can be questioned. Just because it is on the internet or published by (or "issued with the authority of") the local Council, does not mean it is true, but it does show that back in 1947 the people of Hoole were interested in their history. At a more detatched level, the document can be examined as a record of how the people of Hoole viewed their history and hence, how they viewed themselves.

Thus, the "Handbook" is an interesting historical document in of itself, but just for the record, there are some examples below of where the handbook apparently gets it wrong:

Page 9

The references on the history of Hoole are said to be "meagre and disconnected" wheras in fact quite a lot had been written on the place, as can be seen on the rest of this website. It is easy to forget that at the time that the "handbook" was published historical records were only of the "hard copy" variety and not all libraries would contain a full set of relevant books. One principal reference used appears to be George Ormerod. Among his writings was a major county history of Cheshire. Like other county histories of the period, the work consists mainly of family history, manorial history and antiquarian topography. He deliberately excluded reference to commerce, industry and urbanisation. Between a quarter and a third of the work was written by Ormerod himself while the rest consists of transcripts of documents and reprints of earlier works. The first edition contains many errors. Ormerod mentions Hoole several times in his work (particularly in Volume II), but the references are somewhat scattered[1]. This is probably the basis for the writers statement that the sources are "meagre and disconnected".

There is no mention of the Walker's, Lightfoot's and Pickering's. All these three intermarried families have local streets named after them and Pickering has a particular claim to fame as the first person to send a message over the trans-atlantic cable.

Page 11

Hoole and Newton's role in history is said to be "somewhat insignificant", Which seems to imply that nothing important ever happened here. This is quite untrue. The "Battle of Rowton Heath" was fought in part on Hoole Heath and Lord Bernard Stewart died there. After his remaining cavalry were scattered at Rowton/Hoole Heath on 24 September 1645, Charles returned to Newark. On 13 October, news reached him of Montrose's defeat at Philiphaugh a month earlier, ending plans for taking the war into Scotland. The loss of Carmarthen and Chepstow in South Wales cut connections with Irish Royalists, forcing Charles back to Oxford, where he spent the winter besieged by the New Model Army. The last pitched battle of the war took place at Stow-on-the-Wold on 21 March 1846, when 3,000 Royalists were dispersed by Parliamentary forces. Before the battle near Chester Charles position was desperate, but afterwards en route to disaster.

Page 13

The course of Flookersbrook, Bache Brook, and Finchett's Gutter. See: The coming of sewers to Hoole in the mid-19th century.

Flookersbrook (the stream) does not flow through Flookersbrook (the hamlet) but flows from Boughton to Bache alongside the railway but underground.

"Finchett's" gutter (the Handbook spells it wrongly) is a watercourse probably formed after the canalization of the River Dee around 1754, and may take its name from John Finchett Maddock (c1775-1858) [2]who was Town clerk of Chester (1817-57) and briefly MP for Chester in 1832. The Town Clerk writing in 1947 appears to be unaware of this.

The "Fraternity of St Anne" (1316-1547) maintained a chantry at St John's served by two chaplains. Collections were made to pay for "obits" for deceased members. The hospital or almshouse was formed after the dissolution of the fraternity (Harl 2150, f 289). At the time that the handbook was written many sources repeated an error that the Fraternity ran a "hospital". The parish almshouses in Little St. John Street were probably established after the Dissolution in succession to the fraternity of St. Anne. Their foundation deed was allegedly still in existence in 1630, when the eight resident almswomen petitioned the bishop to order repairs at the expense of the then owners of lands which had once belonged to the fraternity.

Much more has been discovered about Folly House.

Page 14

Early documentation indeed states that the original Hoole Hall was first occupied by John de Hoole, the "Lord of Hoole". Further documentation suggests that Rev Sir William Bunbury purchased the hall in the 14th Century and the family owned it (and an associated windmill) for the next 400 years[3]. During the English Civil War (1642-1647) the hall was burnt to the ground by parliamentarian troops as they advanced upon Chester. Daniel Lysons writes, in his Magna Britannia (1810)[4]:

  • "The township of Hoole lies two miles NE from Chester; the manor was at an early period in a family of that name afterwards in the Troutbecks from whom it descended with several other Cheshire manors to the present Earl of Shrewsbury. Hoole Lodge the manor house is occupied by Charles Hamilton Esq. Hoole old hall now a farm house is said to have been the abbot of Chester's grange: it is certain that the abbot had an estate here which he purchased of John de Hoole Lord of Hoole in the reign of Edward II but it may be observed that Hoole old hall, now the property of Dr Peploe Ward, was bought off Sir William Bunbury whose ancestor David de Bunbury purchased off the Calveleys certain lands which had been the property of John de Hoole above mentioned. Webb in his Itinerary written in the year 1662 speaks of the pleasant and sweet seat of Sir Henry Bunbury at Hoole. There are also in this township two modern mansions called Hoole Hall and Hoole House the former is the property and residence of Mr John Oliver the latter is the property of Mr Hamilton and in the occupation of Brigadier General Broughton."

2nd baronet Henry Bunbury's first surviving son another Henry Bunbury was the MP for Chester. The Epsom Derby would have been called the Epsom Bunbury if a later Bunbury (Charles) had not lost the toss of a coin to name the race with the Earl Derby. Hanshall[5] states that Henry Bunbury was:

  • " active loyalist, and had his estates sequestrated by the Republicans for five years, during which period he was closely imprisoned at Nantwich. He was allowed as sustenance only a fifth of the produce of his lands, and when he was set at liberty a fine of £2,200 was levied upon them. His entire loss was about £10,000, exclusive of his Hall at Hoole, near Chester, which was destroyed during the siege of that city."

The 7th Bart added that not only had his mansion house been 'pillaged and burned to the ground ... by the Parliamentary forces when they were besieging Chester in 1645' but his estates were also 'ravaged'. Platt's History and Antiquities of Nantwich states that he had ten children at this time. The 7th Bart also writes:

  • "The old hall at Stanney had been neglected during the many years whilst the head of the family resided at Hoole. It was dilapidated and parts seem to have been pulled down. Such as it now was, however, it became of necessity the dwelling-place of the impoverished Henry Bunbury, after his release from prison."

The family appear to have lived at Stanney thereafter.

Thomas Baldwin's aerial view of Chester which can be seen, together with the River Dee in the corner of this engraving based on his sketch. This is believed to be the first ever actual view of the earth from above.

The present Hoole Hall was built c.1760 for Rev John Baldwin with extension and some alterations for the Hamilton family. He had purchased the estate in 1757 from the Bunbury family. His son Thomas Baldwin (1742-1804, or "Baldwyn"), a clergyman, tried, in 1783 after resigning from his position as a Huntingdon curate, to fund the construction of a balloon by subscription, but was unable to raise enough money. A display of Thomas' exploits, which included his design for a "grand naval air balloon" from 1784, was until recently still found at Hoole Hall.

Baldwin's luck was to change when Vincenzo Lunardi, the "dare-devil Italian balloonist", visited Chester in 1785. On Friday, 2nd September the Chester Chronicle reported:

  • "Mr Lunardi presents his respectful complements to the public with thanks for the favours that he has already received and begs leave to inform them that he has resigned his place in his balloon to T.B. esq a Gentleman of Chester"

"T.B." was Thomas Baldwin. However his flight came about, Baldwin then wrote a highly detailed and lengthy account of the voyage, with the impressive title: Airopaidia[6]: Containing the Narrative of a Balloon Excursion from Chester, the Eighth of September, 1785, taken from Minutes made during the Voyage: Hints on the Improvement of Balloons, and Mode of Inflation by Steam: Means to Prevent their Descent over Water: Occasional Enquiries into the State of the Atmosphere, etc. The Whole Serving as an Introduction to Aerial Navigation: with a Copious Index. Baldwin's remarkable trip led to the first true depiction of the earth seen from above, with Chester and Hoole visible in his drawing and could be more than enough to put "insignificant" Hoole on the map.

Admiral Nelson?

The document makes a rather curious reference to Nelson and his mistress.

Amy Lyon (26 April 1765 – 15 January 1815), generally known as Lady Emma Hamilton, was an English maid, model, dancer and actress. She was born in Ness (near Neston) began her career in London's demi-monde, becoming the mistress of a series of wealthy men, culminating in the naval hero Lord Nelson, and was the favourite model of the portrait artist George Romney. Eventually she ended-up as the mistress if a certain Charles Greville, who decided he wanted a wealthy wife (which he never found) and passed her off to his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, who was conveniently abroad. Emma did not know of the agreement between Greville and Hamilton believing that she was there “on holiday” and she was devastated when the reality of the situation slowly dawned upon her. She co-habited with Sir William, the British envoy to Naples, from early 1792 and married him in Setember 1791 (he was 60, she was 26). Her affair with Nelson started in 1798 when he turned-up rather unwell in Naples having lost an eye {1794), an arm (1797), most of his teeth (probably to scurvy) and developed a bad cough. Emma nursed him back to health. Sir William Hamilton died in late 1803 and had no children. Nelson died in 1805 and among his final words (just before "Kismet, Hardy"), were "take care of poor Lady Hamilton". This was largely ignored and eventually Emma started drinking heavily and taking laudanum. She died on 15 January 1815. Nelson's Hamilton and Hoole's appear to be unrelated. Hoole's William Hamilton (1719-1811) had a son Charles and a daughter Sarah. His nephew was the Rev. Peploe William Ward (who had to change his name to Hamilton to enable him to succeed the inheritance of his Uncle).

Lady Broughton (1770-1857) of Hoole House by Henry Raeburn.

Indeed at the relevant time Hoole House (demolished 1972) was occipied by Lady Elizabeth Broughton who was estranged from her husband. In the early 1800s, Lady Broughton transformed her new home with its extensive kitchen and formal gardens. Very late in his life, Thomas Harrison designed a large conservatory, a camellia house and a geranium house. Between 1826 and 1834, Lady Broughton designed and constructed an Alpine garden occupying over an acre of ground - based on the landscape of the Savoy Alps (where "Mont Blanc" is). John Claudius Loudon visited in 1831 and was very impressed; commenting in his "Villa Gardener"[7] that the garden was 'one of the most remarkable specimens of the kind in England. After Lady Broughton's death in 1857 the lease for Hoole House and its gardens and parkland was passed to Martha Panton (married to Rev. William Peplow Hamilton of Hoole, after whom Panton Street and Panton Place are named). During the 18th century the Panton family engaged in lead and silver mining in the Bagillt area of Flintshire and amassed considerable wealth and property. In 1837, Martha had been involved in a notable "forged will" case (see: The Trial of Thomas Williams). Hoole House passed back to the Hamilton family upon Martha's own death in 1883. One of the Hamiltons (Claud Hamilton Vivian) sold some of the land to local builder Henry Sumpter in 1890, after whom Sumpter's Pathway is named. The remaining land was sold to Mrs Potts of Hoole Hall. Shortly before the Second World War a large part of the parkland was purchased by Hoole UDC from the then owner, William Paul, to build what later became Maple, Pine and Cedar Groves. Vivian Terrace, Willow Crescent and Grove, Chestnut Close, Ashwood, Aspen Way, Alder Grove, Hoole Gardens and Hornbeam Close are among the many streets that derive their names from Hoole House and its gardens. After WW2 new housing estates were built on more of the land that had belonged to the house and the house itself eventually became flats in 1954. In 1972 the house was in a state of delapidation and it was demolished, being replaced with housing for the elderly also named Hoole House.

Hoole Lodge

The Handbook mentions Hoole Lodge as though it still exists. It had been the official residence of Cheshire's first Chief Constable (1857) and was much altered over the years, but it was demolished to make way for Park Drive shortly after WW1 and therefore had vanished by the time the booklet was published. It is referenced nowhere else in the booklet and does not appear on the map.

Scottish Invaders?

The handbook refers to an event where "Malcolm King of Scots attacked Chester" identifying this Malcolm is problematic. The 11th Century King of the Scots, Malcolm III (d.1093) got closest. He is the same character who turns up in the "Scottish Play" and his forces did defeat the previous Scottish king at Dunsinnan in 1054 ("he who isn't named" wasn't killed in the battle - but at the Battle of Lumphanan some years later). The historical Malcolm III invaded England five times often with the excuse that he was supporting the claim to the English throne of his brother-in-law Edgar Ætheling. Edgar's supporters included Edwin, the Earl of Mercia, who may have been based at Chester, but there is no evidence that Malcolm ever came closer than Lancashire with his army. Malcom IV did come to Chester in 1157, but that was to pay homage to Henry II and lose lands which David I had conquered (he never got near Chester either).

In fact, the mistake appears to have arisen as a consequence of an error in Ormerod's history, where it is written:

  • In 894, according to Henry Bradshaw, Harold king of the Danes, Mancolin king of the Scots, and another confederate prince, encamped on Hoole Heath, near Chester, and after a long siege reduced the city, but soon afterwards were attacked by Alfred, who pursued thither their comrades who had fled from Buttingdune. The time and the success of the siege by Alfred are variously related by the historians, but the result appears to be that the Danes left the city in consequence of famine

That Bradshaw (stanza 109) himself was in error should have perhaps been obvious by his statement that Malcolm was armed with cannon:

  • "Harolde kyng of danes / the kynge of gotes & galwedy, / Maucolyn of Scotlande, and all theyr company, / With baners displayed, well armed to fyght; / Theyr tentes rially in Hoole Heth were pyght. / They set theyr ordinaunce agaynst the towne / Vpon euery side timorous for to se,"

Bradshaw is known to be a not very accurate historical source (and his Latin treatise "De antiquitate et magnificentia Urbis Cestricie" is lost). In 894 the king of Scotland, or rather Picts/Alba was Domnall mac Causantín. He ruled 889-900. The Chronicle of the Kings of Alba has Donald succeeded by his cousin Constantine II. Donald's son Malcolm (Máel Coluim mac Domnall) was later king as Malcolm I and while he raided England, he never got as far south as Chester. The Vikings are known to have attacked Chester in 894, but other than Bradshaw no independent source mentions the Scots as being involved at all.

The Scots were back over the border in 1715. Despite its Tory inclinations and some sympathy for the Jacobites, Chester made no move in support of the rising of 1715. The defeat of the rebels at Preston spared it direct involvement in military operations, although its Militia was called up and government troops marched through. Captured Jacobites numbering up to 500 at a time were brought for temporary imprisonment at Chester, crowding Chester Castle and the city gaol and overflowing into houses throughout the city. Initially many perished of cold, hunger, and fever because local sympathizers were prevented from assisting them. This was probably the only time a Scots army came anywhere near Hoole, and they were prisoners at the time.

1732 saw a certain amount of unrest in Chester centered around the Mayoral elections - sporadic disorders culminated in a clash in Bridge Street in early October between a Whig mob (allegedly reinforced with disguised soldiers, revenue officers, and Liverpool sailors) and Tory supporters who included Welsh miners. The latter came off worse, and the Whigs, suspecting that Tory aldermen were admitting more freemen after dark, broke into and wrecked the Pentice. The mayor called for dragoons from Warrington to help restore order and appointed c. 270 special constables. Fifty dragoons arrived on foot and according to "a letter from a freeman of the city of Chester to his fried in London" were loadged in Hoole, with 25 of them quartered at the Ermine (then in the hands of a John Artinstall) and the remainder at a neighbouring house in Flookersbrook.

The only real threat to Chester by the Scots was in 1745 when Jacobites defeated British forces in September at the Battle of Prestonpans, and then moved south into England. A part of the Cheshire Militia was brought in to garrison the city and business came to a standstill. The city gates were bricked up, save for wickets at the Bridgegate and Eastgate, the walls were patrolled, cannon were mounted to command the bridge, and the Chester Castle defences were improved. The spring assizes were held at Flookersbrook in Hoole. George Cholmondeley put Chester in a state of defence, repairing the castle’s defences and adding raised batteries in the inner and outer wards and a raised platform with a parapet south-east of the Great Hall. The military architect Alexander de Lavaux was engaged to draw up a plan to strengthen the fortifications, with massive earthworks in the form of a "star fort", but the work was never carried out. Although the Jacobite army went nowhere near Chester, the city had been involved in heavy expense and had to turn to Sir Robert Grosvenor to obtain reimbursement from the government in 1746.

Edward Burghall!

Burghall's own parts of his diary are little more than a rambling rant. Much of the detail about battles is stolen from Thomas Malbon.

Edward Burghall (died 1665) was an English ejected minister, a Puritan who supported the Parliamentary cause in the English Civil War. He is descrribed on his gravestone in Bunbury as a "Painful Schoolmaster"[8]. He is slso known for a curious diary called "Providence improved", which describes the state of Cheshire throughout the English Civil War. What the Handbook (and Wikipedia) does not state about him is that parts of the supposed "diary" are a virtual copy of the diary of Thomas Malbon of Nantwich (actually written in 1651) and Edward Burghall (who died in poverty) is essentially a forger/plagiarist as regards parts of his supposed diary. See Hall's "Memorials of the Civil War"[9] (written in 1889) for a comparison between the two works and an exposure of the forgery.

The Handbook starts off by getting the year of the battle wrong, it was in 1645, not 1646. It then quotes exactly from Hall's edition of Malbon's Memorial directly rather than from Burghall, which is all the more confusing as the author claims this is the report of Burghall! The passage chosen is that which is now believed to be erroneous and puts the king at Hoole Heath, when it is now known that at this time he was watching the near final stages of the battle from both the Cathedral and the Phoenix Tower.

Page 15

"Bishopfields" has ecclesiastical associations, but not quite as the aithor of the handbook appears to believe. John Brereton, Alderman, Mayor of Chester[10], was born after 1571 (estimated to have been under 16 when his father died in 1587). John Brereton was the son of Thomas Brereton of Barrow, gent, and his wife Jane, the daughter of Baggott of Brethill in co Stafford. His paternal grandparents were William Brereton, Chamberlain to King Henry VIII, who was beheaded in 1536, and Elizabeth, the daughter of Charles Somerset, Earl of Worc, and previously married to Sir John Savage.

Like many mayoral families such as the Gamulls, William Glazier, John Cowper, and others, John Brereton had rural property, mostly near by. John Brereton, by his will bearing date the eighth day of August, 1631, "gave and devised his Close by Flookersbrook, called "Flookersbrook Field" to his loving wife for her natural life; she paying yearly, out of the rents, issues, and profits thereof, the sum of £5, which he willed and devised to be paid, and distributed" to various churches as alms for the poor. John Brereton and Eliner had one son: John Brereton, aged 6 months in 1613, who died before 1631 [11]. The Alms were to be paid:

  • "... yearly to the several Churchwardens of the said Parishes, who at such times and days as they with the advice of the several Parsons or Curates of the said parishes should yearly and every year for ever, distribute and pay upon every Friday next after St. George’ s Day, the said several sums to the said poor people, according to his intent and meaning therein. And, after the decease of his said wife, he further gave and devised his Close aforesaid, called the "Flookersbrook Field" unto the Mayor and Citizens of Chester and their successors for ever; upon trust and confidence that they should yearly well and truly pay and satisfy the said sum of £ 5, in such manner and form as he devised the same to be paid by his wife. He also further willed and devised that all the rest and residue of the rents and profits of the said Close, over and besides the sum of £5 formerly devised, should yearly and every year be duly paid and satisfied by the said Mayor and Citizens, for and toward the Maintenance and Exhibition of the "Friday Lecture" at St. Peter’s Church within the same City; the same to be yearly paid to the Lecturer there for the time being, at and upon every Friday next following St. George’s Day."
Nicholas Byfield was the Puritan lecturer at St Peter in Chester 1608-15. His Calvinist polemics helped stir-up the disputes which built up in Chester prior to the Civil War

The "Friday Lecture" had been established in 1583 at St Peter's, which became a centre of Puritan preaching possibly due in part to the influence of Puritans such as John Bruen. In the winter of 1613 seventeen of Bruen's students and servants were arrested for destroying roadside crosses in Cheshire. Seven of the vandals appeared before the Star Chamber in London. The outcome of the trial resulted in a 500 pound fine, an expense that Bruen covered for his followers. While those charged with the crime denied Bruen’s involvement, it was clear to all that the event was planned at one of his conventicles at Stapleford Hall.

As noted by Isaac England Ewen (1821-1890) writing in JCAS[12]:

  • "The plain speaking and denunciation of all immorality stirred up strife, and many began openly to deride and oppose, and formed parties to act in opposition. The enemies of the movement at last prevailed, and upon the 5th September, 1701, the Dean preached the concluding sermon."

Unfortunately for the Lecturer of St Peters Church, "the trust and confidence" were "misplaced" and the Corporation found themselves in a position to dispose of the land which had been given "and devised his Close aforesaid, called the "Flookersbrook Field" unto the Mayor and Citizens of Chester and their successors for ever" - subject to the payment of a rent, with the money being spent on a new market.

The matter was investigated by the Charity Commissoners for Chester in their "Report of the Commissioners sent to Chester to enquire into the Charities of the City" (published by John Monk in 1829[13] .. and involving the Finchett-Maddock mentioned above), but there was "no Evidence to shew the quantity of the Close", nor could the Commissioners in their endeavours to trace it, find any document which "set forth the field and its abuttals". They concluded that the field had been alienated by the Corporation; and it is presumed that the fee farm rent, reserved by the following instrument, was the value of the Close at that period.

  • "By Indenture dated March 26th, 1712, the Mayor and Citizens of Chester, — in consideration of the surrender of a former lease of the Field or Parcel of Land thereinafter mentioned, for three lives and 21 years after, as of the sum of £8 fine; and in consideration of the yearly rent hereafter mentioned, — granted, bargained, sold, refeoffed and to perpetual fee-farm betook unto John Clayton of Hoole, in the County of Chester, Gardener, — all that field, pasture, or parcel of land with its appurtenances, situate lying and being near Hoole Rake, in the County of Chester, commonly called and known by the name of "Flookersbrook Field," late in the tenure or holding of Catherine Oulton, widow, and then in the possession or occupation of the said John Clayton; together with all ways, &c., to hold unto the said John Clayton, his heirs and assigns, to the use and behoof of the said John Clayton, his heirs and assigns for ever, under the clear yearly rent of £ 6 13s. 4d. payable at Midsummer, or quarterly by equal portions. At an Assembly holden on the 20th day of June, in the 6th year of William and Mary, it was ordered that Peter Newton, Rector of St Peter parish within this city, should have and receive yearly during the pleasure of the House, the sum of 5 nobles (which sum was formerly given by this House to Mr. William Thompson, late Parson of the said Parish) yearly out of Mr. Brereton’s Legacy, the first payment whereof to begin and be made upon St. George’s Day then next."
The area on the "parchment map" as shown in another old map. Over the years this has been the location of a Roman Camp, an asylum for criminals, a Civil War battlefield, a cluster of country houses and a housing estate.

The following is an extract from what is stated to be the evidence of the Town Clerk to the Charity Commissioners:—

  • "John Brereton’s legacy was a sum of £6 13s. 4d., made payable annually to charitable objects, out of a Close at Flookersbrook, wnich was devised in 1681 to the Mayor and Citizens of Chester for that purpose. The only trace of the Corporate property in this Close during living memory has been (what is here termed) a chief rent issuing out of it, of the precise amount of £ 6 13s. 4d. This was sold a few years since by the Corporation, with several other chief rents, upon the usual terms of 20 years’ purchase, in order to raise money to build the new markets (the present Shambles, about 1828). This sum of £6 13s. 4d. is distributed yearly by the person appointed for this purposeby the Corporation from their funds. £1 13s. 4d. is given to the rector of St. Peter’s, instead of what ought to have now been a much larger residue from the increased value of the lands near this city — that is to say, if the Lecturer of former times and the Hector of the present day are identical. The remaining £ o is given according to the directions contained in the Will, viz., to the several churchwardens, about St. George’s Day. This is why the money is received in some of the parishes by the name of "St. George’s Money". This "Flookersbrook Field" is now called "Bishop’s Fields" and was recently owned by the late Mr. Faulkner; and when any portion of it is sold it is described in the title deeds as "Flookersbrook Field."

"Bishop Peploe" as mentioned in the "Handbook" never existed. The furthest the local Peploe-Ward connected with the Hamiltons got up the church tree was to be Prebendary of Ely and Beeton Cottenham, in Cambridgeshire. There was however a Samuel Peploe (bap. 29 July 1667 – 21 February 1752) who was Bishop of Chester from 1726 to 1752, but he was not quite so closely related to the Hamiltons, although he is buried in the Cathedral with a prominent memorial on the North Wall of the building. One can only suppose this led to a misunderstanding. In 1750 Bishop Peploe's granddaughter Anne Bayley married her distant cousin, the Rev Abel Ward (1718-1785), Rector of St Ann's, Manchester. He was a grandson of Bishop Peploe’s uncle, the Reverend John Peploe (1648-1728) of Penkridge, and his mother was Mary Peploe who had married Thomas Ward at Penkridge in 1706. Abel was at one time Bishop Peploe's chaplain and only a year after his marriage to Ann Bayley at Northenden was preferred to the office of Archdeacon of Chester. Abel Ward's son was Peploe Ward (1750-1819) who married Sarah Hamilton and his son in turn was Peploe William Ward (1781-1854) who married Martha Panton (1793-1883).

Page 20

The area covered by the "old parchment map" of Hoole Heath can be identified by the roads and the field boundaries as being that on which much housing was built after WW2, and roads show include Hoole Road, Pipers Lane and Hoole Lane. It is also marked on the fold-out map by a rectangle. Looking at the map on the right, we can see "The Spinney", a narrow band of woodland. One reasonably well supported theory is that this was planted, probably by Lady Broughton, to ensure that the views from her "Alpine Garden" were not marred by a view of "The Spike" (Chester Union Workhouse) which occupied the site of the Chester City Hospital. The layout of streets in this part of Hoole is therefore much influenced by a deeply layered history which the "Handbook" hardly touches upon.


As a work on the history of Hoole the Handbook makes a number of significant errors and while it indicates that the writer of the "history" section had access to some historical works he evidently does not use them well, and seems entirely ignorant (or purposely ignores) some parts of the history and topography of Hoole. He should, as Town Clerk, have known where Flookersbrook flowed, who Finchett-Maddock was (a previous Chester Town Clerk and MP) and omits much of the history relating to his somewhat selective subject-matter. Baldwin the ballonist (of Hoole Hall) gets no mention nor Lady Broughton (of Hoole House) and he has Malcolm "King of Scots" seemingly at the gates of Chester. Both King Charles and Lord Nelson apparently stroll around Hoole, and the author is utterly confused over Bishops.

The hisorical references used indicate that the Town Clerk's sources were Ormerod and Hall. Some of his facts are correct but the presence of some copied errors make this an unreliable source for things not confirmed independently elsewhere. It is unclear what the balance is between this being intended to be a helpful guide to those who might move to developing Hoole or a largely commercial effort on the part of Pyramid Press using free content (of dubiouus historical quality) and advertising to produce a booklet backed up by the "authority" of the Hoole UDC. The map is perhaps one of the most useful parts, unless you are looking for Walker Street.