From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Hoole: The origin and early use of the place name[1]

In this first of a series of articles exploring the origin of the place name, and how it was used before the emergence of local government systems affected what was given the name of Hoole in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

When I came to live in Hoole I became familiar with its busy, popular Victorian centre, radiating out from Faulkner Street and Charles Street. The ‘Chester Cross 1 mile’ signpost on Hoole Road told me daily how close the area known as Hoole today is to the centre of Chester.

I became interested in the origin and early use of the place name, also where the Hoole Road led to when it was constructed, which meant looking at the topography of Cheshire before the mid-nineteenth century, from when modern systems of local government were introduced.

These systems of local government were overlaid on, and obscured from view, an administrative system of far greater antiquity, which helps us to learn about the origin and the early use of ‘Hoole’ as a place name in Cheshire.

Bryant Map 1831

Below is a description of Hoole in 1831, in which the township is described as lying two and a half miles North East from Chester, one and a half miles further on from the mile post near the entrance to Faulkner Street. It answers the earlier question of why it is that the Hoole Road, the eighteenth-century turnpike from Flookersbrook, now runs through the area known as Hoole today, and is no longer the road leading to Hoole.

On the Bryant Map, the place name ‘Hoole’ is shown as lying much nearer Mickle Trafford close to Hall Farm.

"HOOLE, a township in that part of the parish of PIEMONSTALL (sic.) which is in the lower division of the hundred of BROXTON, county palatine of CHESTER, 2½ miles (N. E.) from Chester, containing 237 inhabitants. A court leet is held here annually."[2]

The Hundreds of Cheshire

The Hundreds of Cheshire were introduced some time before the Norman Conquest, and they were the geographic divisions of Cheshire for administrative, military and judicial purposes. Hoole was in the lower division of the hundred of Broxton.

Hoole, along with Mickle Trafford, Picton and Bridge Trafford, was part of the ancient parish of Plemstall. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Vestry Committee of the parish became responsible for some aspects of civil administration e.g. the new Poor Relief Law, and, for a time, maintaining the highways which passed through the parish boundaries. It was the mid-nineteenth century before the non-ecclesiastical duties of the parishes became the responsibility of civil parishes and civil administration.

George Ormerod, in ‘The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester’, described the land of Hoole township as being a component part of the manor of Dunham, descending from the Fitzalans (Earls of Arundel), through the Troutbecks, then to the Talbots, ancestors of the Earls of Shrewsbury over time. The land of the township was part of the manor of Dunham, nowadays Dunham on the Hill. The name did not appear in the Domesday Book.

In 1831 Hoole is described as a town, the word derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘tun’, land held and worked by an agricultural community. This is not what we think of automatically in using the word ‘town’ today.

Under the feudal system, promoted by the Normans, tenants-in-chief held land directly of the king. Tenants holding land under the king or other superior lord in the hierarchy, could then carve out new tenures in their turn, by sub-letting a part of their lands. The de Hole family held a mesne (or middle) manor, holding land from a superior lord and then letting land to their tenants. A manor was a community held together by these feudal ties.

‘Inquisitions Postmortem’ are public records of inquiries, undertaken after the death of a feudal tenant-in-chief, to establish what lands were held and who should succeed to them. Although the records are only of those who hold land directly of the king, many other landholders are mentioned, as are their relationships to each other.

Inquisition records from the reigns of Edward I to Edward III contain references to land held by the de Holes. There are financial recognitions by family members of John de Assheby, the parson of the parish church of Plegmondstowe, or Sir John of Plegmondstow.

During this period it appears that Hole and Hole–Hey came into use as place names and became established.

However, by the reign of Henry VI only one name from the family occurs, Edward de Hole, which may afford a clue as to the future descent of the manor.

During the reign of Henry VIII, there is a record of the name of the township of Hole as Hoole. Hole-Hey later became Hoole Heath. Another spelling of the name is Howl on seventeenth century maps, e.g. Ogilby

York to West Chester, showing Warrington to Derby 1675 Map by Ogilby

Followed by sections 1-3 Chester to Morley Hall/Wimbolds Trafford Route in sections[3]

1675 Map by Ogilby, Section 1
1675 Map by Ogilby, Section 1
1675 Map by Ogilby, Section 3

Sources and Links

  1. Article researched and written by Linda Webb, March 2019, Hoole History & Heritage Society
  2. Samuel Lewis ‘A Topographical Dictionary of England’ (1831) © Mel Lockie
  3. Maps Courtesy of Cheshire Local History Association, Cheshire Record Office