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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.

When did Queen Victoria visit the Royal George?
Joan says: Princess Victoria visited Knutsford In October 1832. She was only thirteen when she visited the inn and was not Queen until 1837.

The inn was at that time called The George and Dragon - as careful observers may see from the decorated plasterwork corners of the archway.

I once wrote to the archivist at Windsor Castle to ask if records showed that the inn was authorised to call itself 'Royal'; I was told that such things were seldom more than verbal permission and nothing was recorded officially, however I was sent a photocopy of the page from the young princesses diary, dated 19th October 1832:

...with flowers and flags hung from the windows. At 12 we arrived at Knutsford where we were most civilly received, the streets being sanded in shapes which is peculiar to their town. We lunched there with Lord Grey, son of Lord Stanford, Mr Willbraham and Mr Egerton. We left at 6 minutes past 1; the yeomanry still accompanying us. 5 minutes to 2. We just passed by a little village where my name was written, not in ink but with flowers and pink bows. 20 minutes to 3. We have just changed horses at Macclesfield, a large manufacturing town...


Extract from the library of Windsor Castle, courtesy of Joan Leach.
(Quoted by kind permission of H.M. the Queen)





Where did Elizabeth Gaskell marry?
Joan says: Elizabeth Gaskell was a Unitarian so Brook Street Chapel, Knutsford was her place of worship, and her ancestors had been involved in its history from its foundation in 1689. But when she was married, in 1832, it was the law of the land that marriages should take place only in the Church of England. A few years later this law was changed allowing weddings in other churches and chapels.

She married William Gaskell at St John the Baptist Church on 30th August 1832. Her uncle Peter Holland owned a pew in the parish church and Elizabeth was happy to attend C of E services when she was away from home. Her cousin Sir Henry Holland had a son who became a Canon of Canterbury Cathedral.

She wrote in a letter: 'When I was married nearly all the houses in the town were sanded and these were two of the favourite verses' :

  Long may they live
Happy may they be
Blest with content
And from misfortune free.
Long may they live
Happy may they be
And blest with a numerous