I am often asked whether King Canute 'forded' the River Lily , thus
giving his name to the town: my answer is that no one will ever
spelling in the Domesday Book of 1086 CUNETESFORD could be interpreted
as 'Cnut his ford'. The anglo saxon chronicle records warfare between
the Danes and the King of Cumbria around 1014, so he may have passed
this way BUT fording our River Lily , as we know it, could surely
not have made history !! Any Viking could jump across it!!
However the whole area was probably marshy and would have been more
of a challenge to an army.19th century maps show a ford across the
Knutsford end of Tatton mere. (left:
'old ford' across Tatton Mere)
Also it should be remembered that Knutsford got its town charter
in 1292 and before that the community probably lived around the
old church of St Helena's or St John's, where old grave stones can
still be seen, so it may have been the Birkin that Canute's army
forded. (below: The Birkin Brook,
I have often thought of asking The Guinness Book of Records
if our River Lily qualifies as the smallest or shortst river but
it would be difficult to measure its course. All that can be seen
is the stretch along Moorside, now sadly neglected. Many of us can
remember a walk along its bank from the bottom of Drury Lane right
up to the Tatton Wall where the 'river' disappeared into a bright
orange bog , no doubt draining into the mere. That is its end, so
where is its beginning?
It arises from the small valley between Legh Road and Toft Road.
Watt called this area Sanctuary Moor, for its bird life; earlier
it was known as Moorhead and so named on Bryants 1831 map.