Monday 20 November 2017

Volunteer Stories: Records of the Ridge

A ‘stray item from the archives of Merriman, Porter and Long, solicitors of Marlborough’ arrived on the archivist’s desk, transferred to Cheshire Archives from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre. The same archivist who, a few months earlier, had run a training session for volunteers embarking on a project to research and locate documentary and physical evidence of quarrying on Cheshire’s Sandstone Ridge. There were quarries marked on this map of Manley – the archivist alerted the group to the new arrival … David Joyce, volunteer with the Ridge, Rocks and Springs project completes the story …

“A tin case containing some old plans of lands seemingly of no use” reads the faded, discoloured, remnant of the original wrapper inside Cheshire Record Office folder D8835. How wrong this was.

The staff at the Record Office had kindly directed us to this treasure and it provides a fascinating insight into the Manor of Manley. The accession contains four maps of Manley. The separate sections are marked north, south, east and west quarters and include instructions how to overlap them to make the complete manor. The heading of the maps is “A Plan of the Manor of Manley belonging to Jocelyn Deane Esq 1777 taken from an original plan for Robert Davies Esq 1722.”

We have been researching Manley as part of the Sandstone Ridge Trust ‘The Ridge Rocks and Springs’ project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project is looking at quarries, ancient water supplies and historic graffiti along Cheshire’s sandstone ridge.

Previous research suggests that Manley quarry has been in use since Roman times but there are two main quarries in the parish and it is often difficult to distinguish between them when reference is being made to ‘the quarry’. One is usually known as Manley Quarry, and the other one is on Simmonds Hill. These maps clearly show Manley quarry but at that date, the quarry on Simmonds Hill was not marked. There is a sketch of Simon’s Hill (now Simmonds Hill) but no quarry is shown and the area is simply labelled ‘Commons’. In contrast, Manley Quarry is sketched showing the workings and buildings.

But - what was the windmill used for shown next to ‘Croft by the house – tenant Alice Frodsham’? The ‘Moss’ has clear sketch markings but which are hard to interpret –possibly peat cutting? The spelling of many places varies, such as Molesworth Common (now Moldsworth) and the Forest of Dalamere (not Delamere). Lords Well is documented but not Swans Well which was an important landmark on a map of Delamere Forest dated 1813.

As usual with historical research the documents throw up as many questions as answers!

The project has now published its findings online and in a booklet.

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