The village of Whitley is in two parts, Lower Whitley, grouped round the "Chetwode Arms" and the Parish Church of St. Luke, and Higher Whitley, containing the other inn, the "Birch and Bottle". There is a local primary school and a post office and general shop in Higher Whitley, and a post office and shop in Norcott Brook. There are several old houses and farms remaining from the early days.
In Ormerod's History of Cheshire 1666, we read that "Over Whitley is a great township comprehending the hamlets of Norcot, Anterbus, Middle Wake, Severn Oakes and Crowley within the same. It is commonly called by the neighbourhood, the lordship, and is of the fee of Halton Castle, from the time of the Conqueror".
The Town of Nether Whitley was given by Randle, Earl of Chester, to Alfred de Combre about the reign of Richard I. In the reign of Henry III, the Lord of Nether Whitley was Thomas Touchet. Whitley early gave name to a family who, for a short period, were probably its mesne lords. In 1357, Henry, Duke of Lancaster made a grant of land to Richard de Whiteley, Sheriff of Chester.
In the time of Henry VII, Alice, wife of Richard Venables had for her dower "two messauges, one watermill, one windmill, 100 acres of land, ten of mead, twenty of wood, ten of heath, and a garden in Over Whitley and Nether Whitley".
The windmill and watermill have gone, but there is an old Mill Farm, and the Millstone Hotel, which still has its pond, is adjacent to Grimsditch Hall. The names Town Pit, Town Green, and Town Pit Farm probably date back to the days when Whitley was a "Township".
Between the years 1642 and 1648, Cromwell's army must have passed through Whitley on several occasions. In 1643 Sir William Brereton set out from Northwich to attack the Earl of Derby at Warrington. Sir William's army was routed at Stockton Heath and tradition has it that many of Cromwell's army who died on the Heath were buried at Hill Cliffe and Budworth. Cromwell's army camped in Lower Whitley, and there is still a large pool which was used to supply the horses with water. The farm now called Crimwell Pool was originally called Cromwell's Pool.
The name was changed when the present owners came to live at the farm in 1919, for a new name was needed for the shire horses which they bred, and the name Cromwell was already taken up. A number of Cromwellian coins were found on the farm land; but unfortunately, the farmers showed the coins to a gentleman who offered to value them, and neither coins nor gentleman have ever been seen again.
One of the oldest houses of which the origin is known is Grimsditch Hall, the history of which is told in Ormerod's History of Cheshire- "Grimsditch of Grimsditch, an ancient family of gentlemen, settled here in Nether Whitley in the reign of Henry III, and continuing this day 1666, Grimsditch is a small manor".
The Parish Church, now dedicated to St. Luke, was in 1666, a Chapel of Ease called Whitley Chapel, within the Parish of Great Budworth. It had been rebuilt upon an old foundation by Thomas Touchet of Nether Whitley, at his own cost in about 1606. Thomas Pierson, minister of Brampton, in Herefordshire, who was born at Weaverham and bought up by the Touchets of Nether Whitley, left £250 in his will dated October 15th, 1633, towards the maintaining of a minister at this Chapel.
The oak in Whitley Chapel as it then was, and which still remains in the form of intricately carved oak beams, is said to have been brought from Spain by Thomas Touchet especially for the Church. The direct male line of the Touchets died with William Touchet in about 1684. His daughter and heiress married Philip Chetwode of Oakley. In 1896 the living consisted of a vicarage, gross yearly value £200, net £150 with five acres of Glebe and a residence in the gift of Sir George Chetwode Bart. Of Oakley Hall, Staffordshire. The inn in Lower Whitley, adjacent to the Church, is called the "Chetwode Arms", and it is a fine sight to see the Cheshire Hunt meeting in the inn yard. The clattering of horses' hooves on the cobblestones brings back an echo of former days.
Many of the older residents of Whitley remember hearing of "Cuckoo" Booth's School, which their parents attended. The original school was a stone building in School Lane, endowed by William Eaton who gave £100 in his will, and directed that "the constable and churchwardens for the time being of Whitley Lordship should have the order and seeing of the school money, the scholars and the children of the house wherein they lived should be free and other scholars not to give above 6d. a quarter".
The schoolmaster in 1860 was Cuckoo or Coaker Booth, who amongst his other accomplishments, was able to write the whole of the Lord's Prayer legibly on a piece of paper the size of a threepenny bit. When the Education Act was passed and free education became available to all, the school was sold to a man called Mather, who built two semi-detached houses on the site. The Eaton Charity fell into abeyance for some time, but was later used to provide shoes for the children of Higher Whitley attending the primary school. This charity is still carried out. There is also a charity for Lower Whitley, which is for groceries to the value of 15s. to be shared between the inhabitants of the cottages there.
There is a cottage at Higher Whitley called Fenian's Flatt. It was built in the nineteenth century, and the word "Flatt" means a small level place or part of a common field. It is understood that the first owner was an Irish cattle dealer who grazed his cattle on the flatt. The road to this cottage is merely a cart track, showing here and there the cobblestones of the original road.
from Cheshire Village Memories 1961
from the Doomsday Book 1086
Payne and Orde hold from him. Leofnoth held it as a free man. 2 hides paying tax. Land for 2 ploughs. In lordship 1, with 1 slave.
Meadow, 1 acre; woodland 1 league long and 1/2 wide. Value 6s.
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|Post Office Directory 1902
Whitley Inferior (or Lower Whitley) and Whitley Superior (or Higher Whitley) are townships formed into a parish, July 15, 1834 from that of Great Budworth, about 3 miles north of Acton Bridge station on the Crewe and Warrington section of the London & North Western Railway, 5 miles north-west from Northwich and 6 south from Warrington, in the Knutsford division of the county, Bucklow hundred, Runcorn union, Warrington county court district, petty sessional division of Daresbury, rural deanery of Frodsham and archdeaconery and diocese of Chester.... Sir George Chetwode bart. is lord of the manor; and Richard N. Carter of Whitley Superior, Mrs Rowland, Peter Stubs esq. of Blaisdon HAll, Newnham on Severn, Glos. John Highfield esq, James Lawton esq. of Woore, Staffs, and Mr Owen Gough, are the chief landowners. The area of the township is 1,136 acres; rateable value £2,240; the population of the ecclesiastical parish in 1901 was 524, and of the township 201.
Parish Clerk, Thomas Bell
Wall Letter Box, cleared at 5.15p.m
Whitley Superior is a township and village 5 miles south from Warrington and 6 North -west from Northwich: here is a Wesleyan chapel and a cemetery belonging to the Society of Friends, Henry Nield esq. J.P. the trustees of the LAte Capt. Oswald Lee, and the trustees of the late Thomas Parr esq. (d. 1870) are the chief landowners; there are some smaller proprietors. The soil is chiefly sand; subsoil, foxbent and gravel. A portion of the land is in pasture, and the chief crops are wheat, oats, and potatoes. The area is 1,020 acres; rateable value £2,498; the population in 1901 was 323.
POST OFFICE:- Thomas Frank Moore, sub-postmaster.
Letters arrive through Northwich at 8.20 a.m & dispatched at 5.20 p.m. Stretton is the nearest money order & telegraph office.
A School Board of 5 members was formed 3 May 1873, for the united district of Whitley Inferior and Superior, Georg H. Smith, 3 Winwick Street, Warrington, clerk to the board.
Board School (mixed), built in the year 1875, for 110 children; average attendance, 58; Miss Janet Jones, mistress.
Myneken John, Rose Bank
Rumney Chas. Edward.
Trampleasure Rev Joseph Clare (vicar), Vicarage
Acton Frank, farmer, Whitley Hall
Antwis Thomas, farmer,
Big Merryfall farm
Bradburn David, farmer
Frith Oswald, farmer
Gough Owen , farmer,
Little Merry farm
Heeson Edward, market gardener
Hewitt Elizabeth (Mrs)
Chetwode Arms P.H. & farmer
Leach William, farmer
Lewis Samuel, farmer
Mounfield Charles, farmer,
Pickering William, farmer
Bates Mrs, The Grove
Fairhurst William, Rose Bank
Fletcher William, Spring View
Neild Henry J.P., Green Bank
Barber Alfred, farmer
Cartwright Jas. Birch & Bottle P.H.
Clarke Jn. Hy. farmer, Townpit farm
Hatch Ellen (Mrs) farmer, Foggs
Hayes Peter, grocer
Joynson Elizabeth (Miss),
miller & beer retailer
Miller Thomas, jun. butcher & farmer
Moore Thomas, tailor, & post office
Mounfield John, farmer
Renshaw John, farmer, The Limes
Rigby Henry, farmer
Rowlinson Martha (Mrs), farmer
Rutter John, farmer Willow Bank farm
Thomerson John, farmer
Walmsley Frederick, builder
Weir Frederick, farmer, old mill farm
Wilkinson Daniel, farmer
Wilkinson John Rigby, shopkeeper
Woodward Sandy, farmer
Woodward Thomas, cowkeeper
Worrall Wm. brick & tile manufacturer
Worrall William, senr. blacksmith
Wright Ann (Mrs), farmer
Wright Herbert, farmer