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Things to do in Macclesfield, Cheshire

Macclesfield is a relatively affluent Cheshire town, 12 miles south of Stockport.

Town Hall © Dale Miles
Town Hall © Dale Miles

Its name probably derived from "Michael's Field" and the parish church is dedicated to St Michael and All Angels.

Present Day Macclesfield

Macclesfield has a population of just over 50,000. The steep pedestrianised Mill Street is lined with small shops and national chains.

The town has many narrow streets of terraced Victorian houses along with parks, churches and listed buildings of note.

Shopping street  in Macclesfield © Dale Miles
Shopping street in Macclesfield © Dale Miles

The town spreads out with modern housing estates, surrounded by beautiful Cheshire countryside and farmland.

Macclesfield is home to Astra Zeneca, one of the largest UK pharmaceutical companies.

Light engineering and textile businesses provide employment on the industrial estates.

Out of town supermarkets complement the historic town centre which has a small theatre, cinema, leisure centre and a football ground.

Macclesfield is home to one of the oldest chess clubs in the country; the renowned King's School founded in 1502; also the Armoury Tower and Barracks, home of the Cheshire Militia from 1859.

The silkworm pub © Dale Miles
The Silkworm pub © Dale Miles


Things to Do Around Macclesfield

Macclesfield Silk Museum is a living museum which demonstrates silk production.

Along with the award-winning Silk Heritage Centre it has displays of colourful silk tapestries woven to commemorate historic events.

The delightful village of Gawsworth with its 15th century black and white country manor and gardens is well worth visiting.

The charming village of Prestbury is another delightful place to stroll, shop and dine.

The area has beautiful walks at Tegg's Nose Country Park, around Kerridge Ridge to White Nancy or beside the canal with its locks.

Macclesfield coat of arms © Dale Miles
Macclesfield coat of arms © Dale Miles

Jodrell Bank Telescope and Planetarium is worth a visit, as are beautiful Tatton Park and the National Trust properties of Little Moreton Hall, Lyme Park and Hare Hill.

History of Macclesfield

The town's history goes back beyond the Domesday Book of 1086.

The Earls of Chester established Macclesfield Forest, a huge area, for hunting deer and grazing sheep and cattle.

The town received its Borough Charter in 1261 and had a livestock market and two feast days to celebrate St Barnabus Day and All Saints Day.

It was nicknamed "Treacle Town" as legend has it that a barrel of treacle fell off a cart on the steep hill and locals ran out with bowls and scooped it up!

Town hall square and church © Dale Miles
Town hall square © Dale Miles

St Michaels Parish Church was built in 1278 to extend an earlier chapel. It still stands overlooking the original market square with its market cross and Georgian town hall nearby.

Castle Street refers to a fortified town house known as Macclesfield Castle. It was built in the Middle Ages by the Dukes of Buckingham but little now remains.

In the 19th century Macclesfield became the world's biggest producer of fine silk and there are award-winning museums in the town which commemorate the industry.

Home based silk weavers had second storey garrets with large windows which can still be seen today around the town.

Eventually the weavers were moved into large and noisy mills beside the River Bollin.

The castle pub © Dale Miles
The Castle pub © Dale Miles

Another local industry was the production of Hovis bread said to provide cheap and nutritious food for the mill workers.

The Macclesfield Canal was built by engineer James Brindley and opened in 1831.

Shortly after, the railway opened and took over the transport of coal and other cargo.

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