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, I passed over a riveret and thence riding a five miles by causeway, I rode over to Waterleese and Pyverey river that be likelyhood resort to Wyver and in this way came across Tabley Park and on the left hand side where Mr Leycestre dwells.
And a few miles further I came by Dunham Masse park where Master Bothe dwells and about that place by good culture is made very good corn ground where sometime was very ferny and common ground.
And there about by Riston church is a pool of two to three miles in length very plentiful of fish.Three miles off I rode over Mersey water by the great bridge of timber called Crosford Bridge.
So about three miles to Manchester in the which way first I left Sir Alexander Radcliffe’s park and house,(Ordsall Hall).
But ‘ere I saw that I passed over Corne brooke and after I touched within a good mile of Manchester by Mr Trafford’s park and place – and after on the left I saw Mr Prestwickes place (Hulme Hall) on the left hand over the Irwell whereby the Lord of Darby has a place and a park called Allparte park – here I passed over the Medlock river and so within less than a mile to Mancestre.
Mancestre on the south side of the Irwell river stands in Salfordshire and is the fairest best built quickest and most populus town of all Lancashire, yet is in it but one parish church but is a college and almost throughout double laid ex quadrato lapide durissimo whereof a goodly quarry is held by the town.
There be divers stone bridges in the town but the best of three arches is over Irwell. This bridge divides Manchester from Salford, the which is a large suburb of Manchester. On this bridge is a pretty little chapel.
The next is a bridge that is Irk river (although he says Thirke,) on the which the fair built college stands as this is the very point of the mouth of it.
For hard thereby it runs into the Irwell. On Thirke river be divers fair mills that serves the towns.In the town be two fair market places and almost two fleet shots without the town, beneath on the same side of Irwell yet be seen the dikes and foundations of old man castel in the ground now enclosed.
The stones of the ruins of the castle were translated into making of bridges for the town. It is not long since the church of Manchester was collegiated,
The town of Manchester stands on a hard rock of stone as Irwell as well appears in the west part has been noyful to the town. Irwell is not navigable but in some places for fords and rocks.”
Leland then turns north west towards Morley’s Hall
Chat Moss which he refers to as Chateley Mosse that with breaking up of abundance of water in it did much hurt to lands thereabout and rivers with wandering mosses and corrupted water is within less than a mile of Morle.
“Chately More, a six miles in length destroyed much ground with mosse thereabout first corrupting with stinking water Glasbrook and so Glasebrook carried stinking tree and Marsey corrupted carried the rolling mosse part to the shores of Wales part of the Isle of Man and some into Ireland”
His references require some further discussion he refers to several stone bridges, the best having three arches and that on the bridge there stood a pretty little chapel.