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

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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

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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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The Angel Stone

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Hidden within the present day Cathedral is the angel stone recovered during the Victorian renovation, embedded in the wall of the original South Porch.  Made from Collyhurst stone it has been dated to around 700 AD and has given rise to much speculation about its meaning.  You can still see it today, around thirteen inches high by eight wide, it represents an angel with extended wings holding a scroll on which there is an incised inscription.  The scroll being too small…

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The De la Warre family

The family of De La Warre would play a considerable part in Manchester during the 1300-1400’s none more so than Thomas who succeeded to the Barony in 1399 on the death of John without issue, his brother the eleventh Baron. In 1204, King John had granted to John de la Warre the Lordship of Bristol and in 1206 he was Lord of the Manor of Wickwar in Gloucestershire. On the death of Thomas Greddle, or Grelly, the eighth Baron of…

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Manchester is given its first charter

Around 1282 one hundred and fifty tenants are created free of servitude. Known as Burgesses they had their own Portmoot or borough court which was distinct from the Lords feudal court and was able to pronounce on local disputes and trade agreements. There is also mention of a profitable fulling mill, giving the first reference to weaving in the region suggesting that the weaving of cloth was already a staple industry. Manchester is granted its first charter in 1301, almost…

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