OS Grid ref:-SJ 7578
The market town of Knutsford is situated six miles west of Wilmslow and was formerly known as Canutesford for the Danish King Canute, who supposedly 'forded' the River Lily in 1016. The Domesday Book of 1086 refers to town as as Cunetesford. Once a staging post on the old Liverpool to London road, the towns first charter was granted in 1292 by King Edward I.
A network of narrow streets and passages connect Knutsford's two main streets. The town is rich in history, the Knutsford Heritage Centre was opened in 1989, and is built on the site of a seventeenth century timber framed building of which the present building is a reconstruction. The Heritage Centre provides a valuable source of information on Knutsford's history.
The Royal George Hotel is an ancient hostelry, its origins are uncertain although it was at one time a coaching Inn, known as the George and Dragon. It was renamed 'The Royal George' after a visit by Queen Victoria in 1832. Edward 'Highwayman' Higgins, a local brigand also visited the inn. Higgins once residing at Knutsford, in a house on what is now Gaskell Avenue. He was hanged in 1767.
Gaskell Memorial Tower
The Gaskell Memorial Tower on King Street, one of Knutsford’s most famous buildings, was built to commemorate Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, nee Stevenson (1810-1865) an outstanding Victorian novelist. The tower was by Richard Harding Watt. Elizabeth Gaskell lived in Knutsford with her aunt and was later married to William Gaskell at Knutsford Parish Church. The titles of her novels are listed on the side of the tower. Her novel 'Cranford' is set in Victorian Knutsford and the house where she grew up still stands in what is now Gaskell Avenue.
The brick built St. John's Church dates from 1744. Its interior has Tuscan columns and two galleries and contains a prayer book dating from 1686. Prior to its construction the villagers worshiped at St. Mary's Church at Rostherne. The marriage of the novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell took place in the church.
The Unitarian Chapel
Knutsford's Unitarian Chapel, one of the oldest buildings in Knutsford, is still used for worship. The chapel was built soon after the passing of the Act of Toleration 1689, which granted freedom of worship. The building has characterful mullioned windows and external staircases at each end which lead to the galleries. The pulpit dates from the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, the pews from 1859. Elizabeth Gaskell was once one of the congregation, Mr Benson's Chapel in 'Ruth' is drawn from her knowledge of Brook Street Chapel. her grave and that of her husband William and 2 daughters can be seen in the grounds.
At one end of the characterful narrow mainstreet is the entrance to Tatton Park, once home to the Egerton family.
The Knutsford Tapestry is hand stitched by Knutsford citizens it incorporates more than 6 million stitches and 52 miles of wool. The three sections of the tapestry measure 40ft in all. The scenes depict many of Knutsford's houses, shops and buildings.
Knutsford retains the ancient tradition of "sanding the streets", now carried out to celebrate May Day. The custom dictates that the streets are decorated with coloured sands in patterns and pictures. Tradition records that King Canute, while fording the River Lily, threw sand from his shoes into the path of a wedding party. Queen Victoria, on a visit to the town in 1832 recorded in her journal "we arrived at Knutsford, where we were most civilly received, the streets being sanded in shapes which is peculiar to this town".
Nearby places of interest
Tabley Hall, situated at Nether Tabley around 2 miles from Knutsford, is an elegant, brick built, Grade I listed building in the Palladian style, the only one of its type in the North West.
Gauntlet Birds of Prey Eagle and Vulture Park, which is situated at Knutsford is Cheshire's largest Falconry Centre. The centre hosts the biggest collection of birds of prey in the North West, and features a comprehensive collection of eagles, vultures, falcons, kites, hawks and owls. Gauntlet offers a wide range of services including falconry courses, flying displays for shows and events, school visits, children's parties and photography workshops.