A photographic history of Great Budworth, Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 00:10 20 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:24 09 June 2016

Great Budworth in the 1920s, picture from Cheshire Image Bank, courtesy of Chester History & Heritage.

Great Budworth in the 1920s, picture from Cheshire Image Bank, courtesy of Chester History & Heritage.

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In the first of a new series we step into a bygone era with a walk down memory lane in Great Budworth

The village of Great Budworth dates back to before the Norman invasion.

The Domesday Book records a hall, a lord of the manor, a mill, a priest, a slave and several villagers.

By 1216 most of Budworth was owned by the de Duttons, later the de Warburtons, but land was given to Norton Priory, which saw it as a good site for a church. St Mary and All Saints Church, completed in the early 16th century, is a grade one listed building and, according to Pevsner’s Buildings of England, ‘one of the most satisfactory perpendicular churches of Cheshire’. The guide goes on to describe the surroundings to the church as ‘one of the best pieces of villagescape in the county’.

Through the middle ages Great Budworth grew with the development of agriculture and trade with Northwich and the surrounding area. Great Budworth was one of nine towns in Cheshire which was allowed to hold a fair.

Throughout the nineteenth century, Rowland Egerton-Warburton transformed Great Budworth. He employed architects to remodel the roads, the houses and pubs. Those houses were let not only to agricultural workers, but to salt workers and other tradesmen from the area, and Great Budworth was a much busier and more crowded village in Victorian times than it is today.

The book Memories of Great Budworth, published in 2000 by Great Budworth Local History Group, gives us some eye-witness accounts of life in the village. And many of those memories seem to concern sanitation. Harry Walton, born in the village in 1903, recalled that in the early part of the 20th century ‘each cottage had a pail closet which was emptied in the garden or, in some cases, into a large hole called a bog hole, which was usually emptied once a year’.

Likewise, Annie Littler, born in 1911, said: ‘A vivid memory is of householders wheeling their buckets in a barrow up past the church early on Sunday morning to tip their human waste at the sand pit on the other side of the village.’

Until 1935, the only available water 
was from five taps around the village, which were fed from a tank in Church Street, which was in turn filled with 
water pumped from the meadows. Householders also used to collect rain
water in tubs.

Alfred Worrall, born in Great Budworth in 1904, recalled that village landmark, the George and Dragon pub in the days when there was sawdust on the floor. He cited the still-famous inscription over the porch - entreating us to ‘slay that dragon drunkenness’ - and added: ‘It was a 
regular sight to see the wives of the salt workers waiting outside the pub early 
each Friday afternoon to catch their husbands before they went inside with their wages.’

In 1948 the Arley Estate sold the properties it owned in Great Budworth. The charms of the village were not lost on people, and as the family car became commonplace, Great Budworth became a commuter village for those working in the towns and cities of the north west.

Fact box

*The earliest trace of human activity at Great Budworth was a Neolithic stone axe head from 4,000 -2,500BC, found in 1921 and now displayed at Manchester Museum.

*The Romans had a settlement at Great Budworth, possibly as an observation post on the nearby road from Wilderspool to Stretton.

*In the Domesday Book of 1086, the village was referred to as ‘Bvdewrde’, the possible origin being that ‘worth’ means ‘enclosure’, and in Saxon times the Lord of the Manor was called Budda, so that Budworth originally meant ‘the enclosure of Budda’.

*When much of the village was owned by the Warburton family, tenants would go to Arley Hall once a year to pay their rent, and would be rewarded with a piece of beef from cattle bred on the estate.

*Until 1930, a curfew bell was rung at 8pm between April and October.

*Before the Second World War, cottage industries in Great Budworth included a cobbler, tailor, builder, dressmaker, baker, joiner, undertaker, bicycle repairer and motor mechanic.

*When the Arley Estate sold off homes in Great Budworth in 1948, a small cottage could be bought for less than £200.

Visit www.cheshireimagebank.org.uk to view over 22,000 photographs of Cheshire past and present and find out how to buy or donate copies.

Enquiries about the image bank can be made to Cheshire Archives and Local Studies at Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester, Cheshire CH1 1RL, tel 01244 972559, or Chester History and Heritage, St Michael’s Church, Bridge Street Row, Chester, Cheshire CH1 1NW, tel 01244 972210.

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