Sports, leisure and the Arts Chorlton Green Conservation Area


In the year 610 AD, the area was settled by Saxons who cleared it of its oak forest. The small community became a township, and it remained a quiet and secluded rural backwater until the mid 19th century. Chorlton-cum-Hardy comprised four hamlets joined together to create a single parish, the Latin word 'cum' meaning 'with'. These hamlets were known as Chollerton, Hardie, Manslache or Martledge, and Hughend. The name Chorlton is possibly derived from the Saxon Ceorlaton or Churl'stun, meaning the enclosure of the ceorls or peasants, or from Ceolfripton, meaning Ceolfip's enclosure. Either name refers to a woodland clearing.

The hamlet of Withington joined the parish in the year 1641, bringing the total population to 84. The township extended as far as the River Mersey on the Cheshire border, the river having been known in earlier times as Cheshire Waters, an abundant source of salmon and trout. This waterway also formed the boundary between the old kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria until England was united by Alfred the Great.

Bull-baiting was introduced into Britain around the year 1209, and it remained active in Chorlton Green until it was made illegal in 1835. It had already been abandoned in most other parts of the country.

At the south corner of the Green was an oak pinfold called 'The Lord's Pound', where stray animals were restrained and then released to their owners on payment of one shilling to the village constable. The village stocks also stood here. The village green, a remnant of the old common land, was not always either green or accessible to everyone. In the first half of the 19th century it was the private garden of one Samuel Wilton, who lived in the house adjoining the Horse and Jockey. In 1895, following the death of the last of Wilton's descendants, it reverted to Lord Egerton of Tatton who gave it to Manchester City Council for recreational purposes. Its surrounding thorn hedge was removed in the same year, the site was covered with hard surfacing, and a number of trees were planted.

The original Church of St. Clement was a small timber-framed chapel built in 1512. It was demolished in 1779 to make way for a larger church built of brick, with a spire, rounded arched windows, and a semi-circular apse. It remained the Parish Church until 1940 and was finally dismantled in 1949. The congregation was divided in 1861, when a new St. Clement's Church was built on the corner of Edge Lane. In 1888, one of the parishioners, remaining with the old church, donated a small gatehouse with a timber-framed bell turret. This unique structure at the former churchyard entrance is one of the two listed buildings in the conservation area.

The regular horse-drawn bus service to Manchester city centre started in 1864, and this partly accounts for the sudden and rapid growth of Chorlton. A new village centre arose to the east of the green, centred on Beech Road. When the London Midland railway opened in 1880, with a station in Chorlton, another centre sprang up further east. An electric tram service opened in 1907 and this, together with the train service, finally rendered the horse-drawn buses obsolete.

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