Leek (Leek and Lowe)

Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

LEEK, a parish, county of STAFFORD, comprising the market-town of Leek, the chapelries of Endon, Onecote, and Rushton-Spencer, and the townships of Bradnop, Longdon, Heaton, Leek-Frith, Rushton-James, Stanley, and Tittisworth, in the northern, and the township of Rudyard with Caudery in the southern, division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 23 miles (N.N.E.) from Stafford, and 154 (N.W. by N.) from London, and containing 4292 inhabitants. This place is of great antiquity, and has been styled "The Capital of the Moorlands"; subsequently to the Conquest the manor became the property of the Earls of Chester, one of whom obtained for the town the grant of a market from King John, and was eventually given to the monks of the abbey Dieu la Croix, in this parish. In 1745, the troops of the Pretender marched through Leek on the 3d of December, in their advance to Derby, and returned on the 7th of the same month.

The town is pleasantly situated on an eminence on the main road from London to Manchester; the streets are well paved, and lighted with gas under an act of parliament obtained in 1824; and the inhabitants are supplied with water by means of pipes, from a spring about one mile distant. The curious phenomenon of a double sunset occurs here at a certain time of the year, owing to the relative position of a rocky mountain westward from the town. The principal source of business is in the manufacture of ribands and various articles in silk; a considerable quantity of cheese is made in the neighbourhood; and some valuable mines of coal, lead, and copper, in the adjacent hills, some of which were worked before the year 1680, afford employment to several individuals. The Caldon branch of the Trent and Mersey canal passes within half a mile of the town, and near it runs the river Churnet. The market is on Wednesday; and fairs, chiefly for cattle, are held on the Wednesday in Easter week, May 18th, on Whit-Monday, July 3rd and 28th, the Wednesday after the 10th of October, and November 13th. Courts leet and baron are held by the lord of the manor, at which a constable is appointed; and the petty sessions for the northern division of the hundred are held here.

The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Stafford, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, rated in the king's books at £7. 9. 1., endowed with £200 private benefaction, £200 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Earl of Macclesfield. The church, dedicated to St. Edward the Confessor, is a very ancient structure in the early style of English architecture; it has a tower with eight pinnacles, and stands on an eminence which commands a very extensive prospect. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists; that belonging to the Methodists is very large, and in connexion with it is a Sunday school, in which upwards of one thousand one hundred children are instructed.

A school-house was erected, at the expense of the Earl of Macclesfield, in the beginning of the last century, for a free grammar school, but it has no endowment, except from a benefaction by the Rev. George Roades, who, in 1712, bequeathed property which was invested in the three per cents., and produces £9. 13. 10.per annum, which sum is paid to the master for teaching English to six poor boys of this parish. Eight almshouses for single women not under sixty years of age were founded and endowed by Elizabeth Ash, in 1676, with a rent-charge of £40 per annum. Additional benefactions to this charity make the total income £78. 3. 6. per annum.

Very munificent donations have been made from time to time in aid of the poor of this parish, and the sum of £290 arising from them is annually distributed in food, clothing, and other necessaries, including small sums of money. The remains of Dieu la Croix abbey (now corrupted to Dieulacres), which was founded by Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, in 1214, in honour of St. Mary and St. Benedict, for Cistercian monks, and valued, at the dissolution, at £243. 3. 6. per annum, are here. Thomas Parker, first Earl of Macclesfield, who became Lord High Chancellor, and President to the Royal Society, was born, in 1666, at Leek, where his father practised as an attorney.

BRADNOP, a township in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the northern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 2 miles (E.S.E.) from Leek, containing 489 inhabitants, many of whom are employed in the copper mines in the vicinity.

CAUDERY, a township, joint with Rudyard, in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the southern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD. The population is returned with Rudyard.

HEATON, a township in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the northern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 5 miles (N.W. by N.) from Leek, containing 391 inhabitants.

LEEK-FRITH, a township in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the northern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 5 miles (N. by W.) from Leek, containing 806 inhabitants.

RUDYARD, a township, joint with Caudery, in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the southern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 2 miles (N.N.W.) from Leek, containing 112 inhabitants.

RUSHTON-JAMES, a township in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the northern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 5 miles (N.W.) from Leek, containing 354 inhabitants.

TITTISWORTH, a township in that part of the parish of LEEK which is in the northern division of the hundred of TOTMONSLOW, county of STAFFORD, 2 miles (N.E. by N.) from Leek, containing 288 inhabitants.

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