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Ask Joan
Joan Leach is a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.


I was born in Knutsford in 1970 and lived on 'Carrwood' since that date. My parents have told me that the estate was built on the site of a huge farm. Even today 30 years later they still recieve the occassional letter addressed to Higher Town Farm. We have also found scores of clay pipes in the garden over the years. Do you know anything about the history of the farm and also anything about the water pump at the end of Carrwood on Chelford Rd?

Joan answers: Before Knutsford Urban District Council was formed in 1894 the area was divided up into townships which each had their own administration and officers for collecting taxes for highways, the poor and the church.

The town was officially called Nether Knutsford. From the Legh Arms and along Chelford Road was Over Knutsford ( Toft, Bexton and Ollerton were other townships). Nearly all the land and property in Over Knutsford belonged to the Leghs of Booth who held their manor court at The Legh Arms, familiarly known as 'The Sword and Serpent' or after a few pints:'the Snig and Skewer'.

Right: This water colour dates from about 1860

An old rent book of the Leghs survives for the years 1799 to 1812 showing that farmer John Davies paid rent for Higher Town Farm. He must have farmed land behind the row of cottages, with the farmhouse and entrance just before them. A receipt for the repair of the pump is still in the rent book.

On the map of about 1910 there is a very tiny 'p' for pump; also on the map one can see the access road for the farmer through strips of wood land.

Left: 1910 map of Knutsford click for larger image.

The tithe map of 1847 shows the remains of a village green opposite and behind the cottages. Over Knutsford Heath was mainly beyond Goughs Lane and field names tell the tale of its history: 'common field' or 'lot' (several of these) 'new inclosure', 'plantation', 'brick kiln heath' etc I wonder who 'Esther' was, who had two fields?

Another record of Over Knutsford which survives is that of the overseers of the poor for the first half of the nineteenth century. It lists tons of small stones collected from the fields by families and sold to be used in road making - a poor man applying for relief was told that he could do this to earn his keep and his children could help. Who could begrudge the poor man his clay pipe at the demeaning labour?

Living there in the early 1900's the farmer was known as 'Tadger' Ward . Cows were still being grazed , by the cottage dwellers, on a green oppposite the fram and cottages.
The farm was sold, with 99 acres, for £1,400 to the owner of Thorneyholme, Mr Lowe. It brought in £178 per annum rent.



Looking up towards Higher Town Farm - Chelford Rd

Knutsford, Higher Town