A Brief History of Stapeley


Stapeley is located at SJ675496 in Cheshire, England. It lies 2 1/4 miles to the south east of Nantwich. It comprises of 1249 acres within the ecclesiastical parish of Wybunbury.

The name has evolved from Steple via Stepeleg and Stapeleigh, to Stapeley.

It is thought to mean either 'a wood or clearing at a post', or 'a wood where posts can be got'

Origins and early history (10th-16th Century)

England was divided into administrative units called 'shires' which were then subdivided into areas known as 'hundreds' between 959 and 975 during the reign of Edgar (944-75). The first reference to Chester-shire (later shortened to Cheshire), is in the Anglo- Saxon chronicle entry for 980.

A Norman army under William the Conqueror reached Cheshire during the winter of 1069-70. William granted the Earldom of Cheshire to one of his knights, Hugh of Avranches some time before 1077.

Hugh granted the barony of 'The Wich Malbank' hundred (later known as the Nantwich hundred) to William Malbedeng (Malbank).

The first reference to Stapeley as part of this barony is in the Domesday Book of 1086.

'The same William holds STEPLE. Eluric and Dot held it for 2 manors, and were free men.'

STEPLE is described as: 'paying tax of 1/2 hide. Land for 2 ploughs. 1 plough there with 2 ploughmen, One villager and one small holder. There is an acre and a half of meadow. A wood half a league long and as wide. In King Edward's time before 1066 it was worth 10 shillings, now 6 shillings.'

William Malbank's grandson, also called William, was the last of the family's male line. When he died sometime between 1160 and 1170 the barony of Wich containing Steple was divided between his three daughters, and held by the Vernons and Audleys.

Circa 1228, Richard de Audley granted the whole of the manor of Steple to Peter de Stapeleigh, 'to hold from him and his heirs, by the services of the tenth part of a knight's fee.'

The de Stapeleigh family retained the manor for the next century.

In the reign of Edward the III (1327-1337), the township or manor of STAPELEY was purchased by Richard Rope. His descendants continued ownership until circa 1562, when it is recorded that Lawrence de Rope died possessed of a moiety (part) of the manor, but his granddaughter Cicily, is described as bringing the manor in marriage to her husband Richard Greene of Congleton

The activities of Stapeley during this period are unrecorded, but most certainly were agricultural, together with a small quantity of salt extraction by the digging of a trench and filling it with water, then boiling the water off in shallow pans to retrieve the salt.

Both 'first dig lane' and 'second dig lane' where this activity took place still survive.

17th-19th century

In 1666, the manor is stated to be held by 'the Earl of Ardglass in Ireland, and R Greene esq', to which is added 'R Greene sold it to Milton'.

In 1684, it appears to have passed to John Gouldsmyth of London, barrister at law. He died in 1702, leaving a son and heir and two daughters.

The eldest daughter, Judith, brought it in marriage to a family by the name of Stubbs. On her death in 1760, it was purchased by the Salmon family of Nantwich who held it to the end of the 19th Century

The rural agricultural nature of Stapeley continued largely unchanged throughout this period, although with the development of three turnpike roads through the manor in the 18th century: Nantwich to Newcastle via Hough in the North east, Nantwich to Market Drayton along Broad Lane and the Parallel Nantwich to London through Walgherton, Doddington, and Bridgemere in the South East, led to the development of commercial activity.

This was particularly so along Broad lane, which by 1900 boasted two Public Houses, a post office, two shops, a tailor and two boot makers. Only The Globe Public house still functions, but amazingly, the pub sign for the Horse and Jockey which closed circa 1910 still exists in the possession of the current owners of the property.

Interestingly, the 1891 licensed premises register lists them as the same size: '2 beds, 1 stable and 1 stall. Poor accommodation'

20th century to the present day

Stapeley became a Civil Parish in 1866. It was transferred to the urban district of Nantwich in 1936, becoming part of the Borough of Crewe and Nantwich in 1974.

A new chapter commenced in April 2009, when Crewe and Nantwich became part of Cheshire East Unitary Authority

Development of housing along the three roads progressed slowly until the 1990's when major development in the west of the parish of over 1000 homes commenced.

Known as the Cronkinson Farm estate from a portion of the land on which it commenced, it has changed the nature of a large part of Stapeley for ever from a rural backwater to a Dormitory Suburb of Crewe and Nantwich.

This is clearly shown in the population records from 1800 onwards as follows;

1801: 249, 1851: 462, 1901: 686, 1951: 513, 2001: 1048, 2009: 2200 (estimate from electoral roll)

population graph


Across the parish are a number of interesting properties, one nationally famous business - Stapeley Water gardens, two schools and a Methodist Chapel.

The oldest school is Broad Lane C of E primary which was founded in 1854 and is described in 1914 as having 110 pupils.

Pear Tree primary school is one of the newest in Cheshire. It exists as a result of the Cronkinsons Farm development, opening in 2003 for 150 children.

The first Broad Lane Primitive Methodist chapel was erected in 1864. The present building dates from 1908.

Stapeley Water Gardens began life in 1965 in the garden shed of the current owner, and has progressed to being one of the leading national attractions in its field with over 1.3 million visitors annually.

Stapeley Hall, the original manor house from circa 1228 survives in much modified form off London Road.

Stapeley House, on London Road, is a grade II listed building, dating originally from 1778. It has seen many uses from private residence, military hospital during both world wars, to Council offices and currently commercial premises.

Oakfield, a classic grade II listed house on London Road is still in private ownership and can trace its history back to 1765.

Stapeley Grange, again on London Road, was left to the RSPCA by its wealthy owner. It currently serves as a cattery and wildlife hospital.

Millie Wilcock

March 2009 (updated February 2010)

Principal reference sources


Wybunbury: The History of the Parish and its 18 Townships.

Cheshire County Council local history series.

Above the Salt: A History of Nantwich.