A History of Goostrey

A brief history of Goostrey. Author unknown, 1977.

The ecclesiastical parish of Goostrey includes not only the civil parish of that name, but also that of Twemlow, a name which reminds us of the burial mounds or 'lows' found in this part of Cheshire, proving that people lived here over four thousand years ago, even though the first mention of Goostrey is in the Domesday Book (1086), when most of the parish was held by William Fitz Nigel, Baron of Halton, and by Hugh de Mara, another follower of the Earl of Chester. They gave much land in Goostrey to endow the new abbey of Saint Werburgh in Chester, and later land in the parish was given to help endow the abbey of Vale Royal, near Northwich. The mediaeval history of out parish is recorded in grants and agreements which regulated the relations between the abbey at Chester and their local tenants. Only occasionally do we catch a glimpse of some more exiting events, as when we read of Honde Merlun who, in 1286, broke into the church at Goostrey and took away all the ornaments, or when five brothers of William Eaton of Blackden were slain together and buried in the chapelyard in 1385.

Goostrey chapel was built before 1220, but it was not until 1350 that the mother church of Sandbach allowed burials here. The parishioners of Goostrey frequently found the way to Sandbach impassable because of floods and must have rejoiced when the five mile journey across the Dane and Croco was no longer necessary. The old church was timber framed, as Marton still is today, but all that remains from the middle ages of that church is the fifteenth century font. Three of the bells rang in the old building; the oldest was cast in 1606, the next recast in 1705, when the work cost £5, and the third a little later. Of the other three, two were given in 1869 by Anna Maria Toler in memeory of Mrs Thomas Hilditch, and the third is modern, dated 1912. Some of the Communion Plate is eighteenth century. In 1719 a silver paten was given by Miss Dorothy Jodrell. It was made in London in 1715 by Samuel Wastell. A chalice and flagon, towards which Randle Armstrong gave £20 in 1759, were made in that year by Fuller White of London. There is a modern paten, dated 1902, made in London, and there is a modern chalice given in memory of Sarah Elizabeth Knowles, made in Sheffield and dated 1931.

The parish registers, which are well preserved, date back to 1561. They contain a few interesting notes, such as one in 1661 when Marie Worthington, the wife of the minister of Goostrey, died, and after the entry is written the word 'scould' in a different ink, and , we hope, after the husband had left the parish. Another note among the next year's burials tells that Mr Whishall 'married five wives,' and later, in 1674, when James Dean married Margaret Hall, we read that she was his third wife 'all within the year.' At the back of the volume, among a list of notices relating to collections made in the chapelry, we find donations sent to towns like Ripon in Yorkshire or Bridgnorth in Shropshire, as well as one contribution sent to Hugh Evans 'having his house and his household goods burnt in the county of Salop.' There too we read how everyone agreed to the appointment of Mr Henry Newcome as minister on October 7 1648, and it seems that even into the eighteenth century the inhabitants had some say in which clergyman was given the living of Goostrey, even though the final decision must have rested then as now with the vicar of Sandbach.

Mr Newcome was a strict puritan, and forbade two of his most prominent parishioners from coming to Holy Communion for their frequent drinking. He left after eighteen months to become Rector of Gawsworth. The Churchwarden's Accounts are preserved from 1638 and throw much light on the economics of parish life in other days, when, as in 1661, the font could be releaded for thirteen shillings, or a clock bought for two pounds three shillings and nine pence in 1658. some things seem very cheap, as when the royal arms were painted and erected for two pounds three shillings and eight pence, and some very dear, as when the book containing the new Communion Service of 1662, was purchased at a cost of twelve shillings, at a time when a labourer's weekly wage would not be much above half a crown. Sometimes we are not given enough information to know what the bill covered, as when the church was restored in 1711 at a cost of forty six pounds, but we can understand and marvel at 5000 bricks for two pounds five shillings, even in 1750.

In 1792 the wooden church being very cold, it was decided to build, at a cost of £1700, a new church to the design of the village bricksetter. No doubt the continual repairing and the alterations we read about when new aisles were added to accommodate the gentry, had made a thorough rebuilding necessary, but the eighteenth century was no respector of ancient buildings. We may be glad they left us the old yew tree.

In 1876 the church was restored and the interior re-furnished. It seems likely that the pulpit, lectern and sanctuary panelling were put in then. A new organ was given and a console in 1947 when the pipes were moved to the gallery. In 1961 a new altar was given and other furniture for the chancel which was rearranged to give more space between the choir pews. The stained glass, which may aptly be called post-Raphaelite, dates from about 1876; the east window being given in memory of Egerton Leigh, the second of that name to live at Jodrell Hall, the south west window being in memory of Mary Susan Armitstead, the young wife of William George, vicar of Goostrey from 1860 to 1907. They married in 1865; she died in 1868.

Across from the church is the school. The earliest reference to a school is in 1640 when it was repaired. It was then next to the north wall of the churchyard where the old vicarage now stands, in a house which was also used as the court house for Goostrey Manor. This appears to have been pulled down in 1703. It may be then that the pupils moved across to the old school house, which is one of the oldest buildings in the village. In 1856 the main part of the present buildings were erected when the old days of a schoolmaster who was also the parish clerk came to an end. The last of these schoolmasters, Jonathon Harding, is buried by the west end of the church; he had held his office for fifty six years. Another chapter was opened in 1977, with the building of a new infants' department across the main road. With this the old connection of church and school has been severed.

George Eliot tells us that the happiest nations have no history. This is true of villages too. Rarely has Goostrey reached the history books. Perhaps only John Hulse, incumbent here from 1735 to 1754, who left money to Cambridge University to found a professorship, which is still known by his name, has achieved national fame. Some families have achieved parochial renown by their memorials in church. The Kinseys whose last male representative died in 1814, acquired land here about 1380 by marrying one of the heiresses of the last Goostrey. The Armitsteads, who provided four vicars of Goostrey, three successively from 1859 to 1923, came from Horton in Ribblesdale in the middle of the eighteenth century, Lawrence whose memorial is on the north wall, purchased the Hermitage and Cranage estates. The Baskervyles whose memorials are in the north east corner of the chancel were squires of nearby Withington from 1266 until 1954 when John Baskerville Glegg was buried at the east end of the church with his ancestors. On the south wall we read of the Booth family who lived at Twemlow Hall. This family originated in the fifteenth century at Barton near Manchester. By marriage with the Venables they acquired Dunham Massey and a branch by marriage with the Knutsford heiress obtained part of Twemlow when the other Knutsford heiress married a Jodrell from Yeardsley who obtained the other part. The Jodrell heiress in 1778 married Egerton Leigh from West Hall, High Leigh, and the Leigh family sold the Jodrell estate in 1924. Today most of the land here is owned by the families who farm it, though at the north east corner of Goostrey, Manchester University owns land where their radio telescope overlooks a collection of Neolithic barrows. Thus in one corner of the parish space age and stone age join hands, which, in one way, is what history is all about.