Places & People

Ordsall Hall


As one nineteenth century writer noted, the glamour in which the skill of Harrison Ainsworth has woven around Ordsall Hall, making it the resort of Guy Fawkes and his co conspirators gives it a strange hold on the imagination. “Though much gone to decay, grievously neglected and divided into three separate houses”, wrote Ainsworth, back in 1841,” it still retains much of its original character and beauty and viewed at the magic hour, against a warm and still glowing western…

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Charles Worsley

On the 12th June 1656, there was a funeral procession at Westminster Abbey.  Four regiments of foot, ten of cavalry and Oliver Cromwell’s Life Guard with drums covered, pikes trailing and mournful trumpets sounding accompanied the body as it was laid to rest while three grand volleys of shot said the chronicler were sounded over the coffin. The man in question was a Manchester merchant who had risen to national pre-eminence under the English Commonwealth, and about who later writers…

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John Bradford


John Bradford was born in 1510 and educated at Manchester Grammar School where he showed considerable ability in Latin and Arithmetic. He served under John Harrington, using his numeracy skills in managing his financial affairs before going on to study law at the Temple in London. It was there that it is said that through the influence of a fellow student he was converted to the Protestant Christian faith; the religion of England at the time under Edward VI, leaving law school…

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The start of Cottonopolis

Gossypium, the cotton genus, belongs in the world of botanics to the tribe Gossypieae part of the mallow family. Its flowers are creamy-white which later turn a deep pink and fall off, leaving seed pods called ‘cotton bolls’. Inside the bolls are seeds surrounded by fibres which are spun into thread for cloth and still today, in the age of synthetic fibres, accounts for forty per cent of the world’s textiles. There are thought to be over fifty species of…

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John Dee in Manchester


John Dee arrived in Manchester on Monday afternoon, February 15, 1596, and took up his abode in the Collegiate as its Warden.  Born in the village of Mortlake in 1527, he was already thus sixty eight years of age. Once the scientist astrologer to the court of Elizabeth I and probably the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero in the Tempest, his career had to date covered science, geography, astrology, antiquarian and secret agent.  He had the largest library in England, he…

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Manchester in Elizabethan Times

As Defoe would write of Manchester in the late 17th century, says T.S Wilham in his publication on Elizabethan Manchester, it was one the greatest if not the greatest meer village in England. He used the term village because it was in all terms a village ruled by a manor house through its Court Leet, its charter of 1301 falling far short of incorporation. We get some idea of the manor for during Elizabeth’s reign, there was a survey and…

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The Mosley Family

We know the name Mosley today from one of Manchester’s main streets, (once a Metrolink stop) yet the family associated with the name ran the town of Manchester for over two hundred years. The Mosley family claims to trace its descendants back to the reign of King John and Ernald de Moseley and their first connection with Manchester came in the reign of Edward IV when John Moseley had a burgage in the town somewhere near Salford Bridge while in 1465…

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The First Description of Manchester


John Leland was probably the first to write about Manchester. He became Librarian to Henry VIII and as the King’s Antiquary was given the power to search for records, manuscripts and relics of antiquity of all cathedrals, abbey’s colleges and priories of the country. He set out on his grand tour in 1536 which took him six years and during that time he visited Lancashire which it entered by means of Cheshire. “Coming from Northwich towards Manchester at Northwich town,…

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Manchester Grammar School

Manchester’s Grammar School spent four centuries alongside the Collegiate in Long Millgate; the road that led to the mill on the Irk, owned by the lords of Manchester a flat windowed building founded by Hugh Oldham in 1515, it was decided in the 1920’s to move it to Fallowfield.  School inspectors deciding that its gloom, its noise and its size were unable to handle twelve hundred pupils.  Hugh Oldham, a native of Crumpsall like Chetham whose library shares the site,…

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Salford Bridge

“Upon Salford Bridge, I turned my horse again My son George by the hand I hent I held so hard forsooth certain That his forefinger out of joint went I hurt him sore I did complain” The stone bridge linking the towns is first mentioned in 1368 when Thomas De Bothe built his first chapel, leaving the sum of thirty pounds for masses to be sang daily for his soul. He was forced to place it on the boundary bridge as…

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