Update to research

(1) Discovered an unknown windmill at Foulk Stapleford. GR 485625 Tithe map  1839, 160/Z EDT Plot 198. Bott mentions 2 mills in Ches.Hist., Autumn 1884 No.14 Pt IV. Both froze up during the winter of 1607.

Bott’s reference to Hockenhull Mill puts it in the marsh below Millfield and that it is close to the Roman bridges.

Took the windmill find to the Cheshire Historic Environment Record. It was basically confirmed and would be added to the database.  Also, looked at some possible sites using aerial photos of 1970’s  but not conducive. Sent the same evidence to the Mills Archive in Reading. Still awaiting expert opinion.

Have to check aerial photos stereoscopically at Chester Record Office.

(2) Beginning to assemble possible packhorse and/or drovers routes. The area around Aldford is promising. Lower Lane, just a few hundred metres south of the Grosvenor Arms leads long and wide, lined with old oaks and follows a straight path to Marsh Lane and after a short turn, heads to the Barton Road connecting Farndon with Broxton. It seems to continue southwards towards Shocklach.

Surprised to find  Lower Lane is one of a number of Roman roads in the area. Interestingly, the Romans used a ford to cross the R.Dee just downstream of the Iron Bridge. Now, the possibility of pack horses and drover’s cattle  and sheep may have crossed here as well as the medieval bridge at Farndon.; it too has passing bays rather like at Hockenhull.

Huge numbers of livestock came out of Wales to markets in Cheshire and beyond. There would have travelled by various routes, mostly established centuries before so finding them is a real challenge.

Field-names are invaluable, as our hollow ways, inns with stabling and even smithies. ‘Halfpenny ‘  field or croft means it would have been an overnight stopover for livestock. Again, another source to check.

(3) Yesterday (July 6th 2018) received two Cheshire Life articles, Via Devana 1949, the other, Forgotten Ways, 1958, both by Frank Marriott. The later pictures ‘one of Cheshire’s green roads…as a wide highway’ between Aldford and the Barton  road (A534).

The Via Devana article mentions another green road near Waverton (not far from the drover’s road I located at Hockenhull) as the ‘first glimpse of a fragment of the lost Roman road.’ It goes on ‘On the other side of Waverton lane, again heading for the church, the field shows traces of being disturbed by the remains of this vanished Roman road.’

This could be the link to the Aldford route (above). Also, noted a smithy was next to the White Horse pub in Churton. Interesting. Wonder if the Grosvenor Arms, in Aldford has stabling.  The Romans used a ford across the Dee, above the Telford ‘Iron Bridge’ just above Aldford. It was on a Roman road, perhaps, the Via Devana

***** reference emerged from the paper mountain:  Frank Latham, Tarvin: The History of a Cheshire Village, p.71:

‘Other mills were recorded at Peel, Hockenhull and Stapleford.

Of popular interest noted , in Latham, by Dr.T.W.E. Morton writing in 1900: ‘Three were three fairly good inns at the Sheaf, Stapleford, a small public near the Hockenhull Platts, on the Cotton side of the river, and one close to Ford Farm in Foulk Stapleford.

10th July Yesterday, explored a Hollow Way in Kelsall. It is recorded on the CHER website as possibly part of the route of the Roman Watling Street to Chester and Manchester, or a packhorse/drovers trackway. Expected a deep, steep sided valley, it was, but fenced off with barbed wire.  Did not have time to explore further but will return to battle through the undergrowth!

SALTER’S BROOK: SJ 523676( below Flat Lane) to 505671 (Shay Lane) and SALTER’S BRIDGE SJ 49897 67907 crossing the main A51 near Tarvin Sands, It flows from Barrow Brook to the north to the outskirts of Kelsall.

FROG MILL, Kelsall: no information from parish council though Tithe Field by that name.


Roman Watling Street passes only yards south of Eddisbury Hill. In 1885, below the Scots pines, W.T.Watkin, the Victorian author of Roman Cheshire excavated a section of the Roman road. He found  a 36 feet/11 metres wide cutting with a 10 feet/3 metres wide roadway in the middle. Worn  10 inches/25 centimetres into the rock were the wheel ruts of carts, exactly 4 1/2 feet/1.5 metres apart. (p.71 Bowerman, Walks in Mysterious Cheshire and Wirral.

What is so interesting is this is the standard gauge for railways in Britain and other parts of the world. It is the width of the packhorse bridges, the axle width both of Roman , Saxon and Medieval carts.

Sometimes called the Stephenson gauge as he used it when the ‘Rocket’ did its Manchester to Liverpool journey that heralded the steam age.

An archaeology found the same gauge is during excavations at Pompeii


9th Dec 2018  Manor in the marsh CHER Ref 1885

Foulk Stapleford. Though not Hockenhull of interest. Manor of Foulk Stapleford. 12th C  south of Walk Mill on the east bank, bounded by leat and the Gowy ( LEAT…..Manor…Gowy). Disused manor by 16thC.

Moated sites most popular in medieval times both prestige and not always as defensive. Some 200 moated sites in Cheshire.

12 Dec.2018   CRO ref DAR/I/40 John Crewe’s Mize book and lists of bridges in Cheshire, their location, repair etc c.1621.  Finding this was to be a real bonus. Sadly, CRO did a search and found no reference to Hockenhull bridge. I was deflated. After here was a bridge on the King’s Highway from London to Holyhead. I have to assume the bridge had gone. This confirmed William Webb’s account of c1621. Perhaps, it was an oversight or the bridge was under another name.

Long overdue mainly because pages rather than update

Beeston Lost Mills: March 2020; After contacted by Wiki regarding the possibility of a relationship between canal locks on the Shropshire Union Canal and mills.  Two mills were found, recorded in Bott’s survey but not recorded anywhere else, at least as I know. They are Beeston Upper and Lower Mills. Typically, a confusion of names didn’t help. Both 13th century and on the Gowy. Full details on page


June 2020

John Speed’s Cheshire Map 1610:  Born in Farndon, Cheshire 1551

What started as an appreciation of the most famous 17th English mapmaker, grew into another venture altogether. Here, the thumbnail is enough. Basically, Speed produced county maps for England of a quality and decorative standard, overshadowing Saxton’s maps of a few decades earlier. Saxton was a professional survey and Speed used his map of Cheshire, at least, as a template for his. Using coats of arms, human figures and other embellishments and , for the first time, town plans, his maps were works of art.

Both maps depicted features pictorially, giving the maps a comfortable, uncluttered and colourful feel. Neither included roads. Rivers, high ground and woodland lacked the accuracy of the location of settlements. His atlas of Great Britain sold for 40s, well beyond the pocket of most people; a labourer would earn that in a year. He produced a wide range of maps, celebrated in his atlas of the world. Maps were engraved by the best craftsmen in the Netherlands.

He mapped the main rivers. This was the aspect which drew more research. For most commentators, the rivers were not well mapped. The Gowy was, but there was a river from the R Dee meeting the Gowy close to entering the R.Mersey.  Much debated as wrong, it offered a challenge in supporting Speed, and Saxton,. Would they have  shown a river if it wasn’t there?   Such support led to another puzzling feature, again long written  about, called the Deva Spillway/Broxton Gap /Backford Gap. Even today,  opinions remain divided enough for this amateur to delve and make a reasoned defence of these two early cartographers.

Spurstow Watermills : April 2020: Not one mill but two were present in the parish. The known one was at Spurstow Hall, the second, at Spurstow Lower Hall. Apparently, there were two manors in the parish each with a mill at about the same time. Details of these and Beestons are on dedicated page.