Leek and Lowe


"Leek, the largest market town in the hundred of Totmonslow, and one of the handsomest in the county, has long been extensively engaged in the silk manufacture. It covers the summit and declivities of a pleasant eminence, above the River Churnet, and nearly in the centre of a spacious valley, the acclivities of which rise rapidly on every side to the distance of six or seven miles, and form one of nature's proudest and most stupendous amphitheatres, the foreground of which consists chiefly of fertile pastures, while the more distant hills, are crowned on the north east side by a long range of lofty perpendicular rocks and crags, called the Leek Roaches. Leek has a station on the Churnet Valley Branch of the North Staffordshire Railway, and is the head of a large parish and union, a polling and County Court district, a rural deanery, and a petty sessional division. It is distant ten miles NE by E of Burslem, ten miles SW of Longnor and ten miles N of Cheadle.
Leek parish comprises no less than 34,300 acres of land, extending six miles west and north of the town, and about four miles eastward. It comprises many small villages and hamlets, and is divided into ten townships of Bradnop, Endon with Longsdon & Stanley, Heaton, Leekfrith, Leek & Lowe, Onecote, Rudyard, Rushton James, Rushton Spencer, and Tittisworth.
The town of Leek has several spacious and well built streets, and is nearly all comprised in the township of Leek and Lowe. The Earl of Macclesfield is lord of the manor of Leek, which includes the townships of Leek & Lowe and Leekfrith, and owner of most of the soil. In the town are many well-stocked shops, several good inns, and upwards of 40 public houses. The Caldon Canal approaches within half a mile SW of the town, and opens a communication with the Trent & Mersey navigation, and with the coal and limestone districts.
Bradnop, two miles SE of Leek, is a hamlet and township of 447 souls and about 3000 acres of land, including Cawdry, and belonging to a number of landowners, but John Sneyd, Esq, is lord of the manor. Ashenhurst is the pleasant seat of S & W Phillips, Esqrs.
Rudyard is a small township of six farms, two and a half miles NW of Leek. The Earl of Macclesfield is owner of most of the land and lord of the manor. Rudyard Lake is an extensive reservoir, which was formed many years ago for the purposes of feeding the Caldon Canal, which joins the Uttoxeter Canal, and extends from the neighbourhood of Leek to the Potteries, where it terminates in the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Tittisworth township has about 1000 acres of land, and 606 inhabitants, and adjoins the north-eastern suburbs of Leek, and includes part of the modern village of Ballhaye-Green, the rest of which is in Leek township, and the hamlet of Thorncliff, two miles NE of Leek. Edward Chorley, Esq, is the principal landowner and has a seat here called Haregate.
Endon, Longsdon & Stanley township formed a chapelry to Leek & Lowe parish and details can be found on the Endon, Longsdon and Stanley parish page.
Meerbrook formed a chapelry to Leek & Lowe parish which included most of the township of Leekfrith and details can be found on the Meerbrook parish page.
Rushton Spencer township formed a chapelry to Leek & Lowe parish which included the townships of Rushton James and Heaton and details can be found on the
Rushton Spencer parish page.
Onecote township formed a chapelry to Leek & Lowe parish and details can be found on the Onecote parish page."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]




'A History of the Ancient Parish of Leek, in Staffordshire'
by John Sleigh
Published 1862, by R Nall, Leek
Second Ed. published 1883, by Bemrose & Sons, London.

'Exploring Leek'
by Keith Warrender
Published 1982, by Willow, Altrincham.

'The Story of a Leek Church'
by Henry Woodhouse
Published 1988, by H Woodhouse, Leek.

'Around Leek in Old Photographs'
by Ray Poole
Published 1994, by Alan Sutton, Stroud, Gloucestershire

'Yesterday's Town: Leek. Some Aspects of Bygone Days'
by Ray Poole
Published 1988, by Barracuda, Buckingham.

'Images of Edwardian Leek'
by Paul Anderton
Published 1985, by Dept of Adult Education, University of Keele.

'A Moorlands Dedication. An Account of the 40 Military Aircraft Accidents
in the Leek Area of North Staffordshire During World War Two'

by Marshall S Boylan
Published 1992, by William H Beech, Leek.

'The Sugdens of Leek. A Brief History of a Family Business'
by George Alfred Lovenbury
Published 1975, by Leek Post & Times, Newspaper House, Leek.

'The Nicholson Institute, Leek'
by Pauline V Smith
Published 1984, by Staffordshire County Library, Stafford.

'The Leek & Manifold Light Railway'
by Keith Turner
Published 1980, by David & Charles, Newton Abbot.

'The Leek Canal & Rudyard Reservoir'
by Harold Bode
Published 1984, by H Bode, Leek.




The population of Leek and Lowe parish (including chapelries) was as follows:
1801 - 6,810
1831 - 10,780
1841 - 11,738
1851 - 13,294

A surname index of the 1851 census of Leek & Lowe parish is included in the Staffordshire 1851 Census Surname index, Volume 6 & 7, Leek & Cheadle, published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.



Church History

"Leek parish church is a large and venerable fabric, dedicated to St Edward the Confessor, and standing on an elevated site near the head of the market place, in a large burial ground. It is a Gothic structure, with a square tower, which contains a clock, six bells, and chimes. In the interior are several mural monuments belonging to the Dainty and other families, also a copper plate, dated 1597, to John Ashenhurst and his four wives and ten children. The vicarage is in the patronage of the Earl of Macclesfield, and incumbency of the Rev TH Heathcote, MA. The Revs J Barnes, MA, and EFT Ribbans, BA, are the curates.
St Luke's church, on the eastern side of the town, is a handsome stone edifice in the decorated style, erected in 1848, for a district parish, formed in 1845 comprising part of the township of Leek and Lowe and the whole of Tittisworth. The perpetual curacy is in the alternate patronage of the Crown and the Bishop of Lichfield, and in the incumbency of the Rev Benjamin Pidcock, BA.
There are in the town seven dissenting places of worship. Three Wesleyan Chapels, in Mount Pleasant, built in 1787, and rebuilt in 1811, Brunswick Chapel, in Ballhaye Street, built in 1827, and a chapel at Ballhaye Green, built in 1845. The Primitive Methodist Chapel, in Fountain Street, was erected in 1836, and there are two Independant or Congregationalist chapels in Derby Street and Union Street. At Overton Bank is an old Friends' Meeting House, now but seldom used.
The Roman Catholic Chapel (St Mary), in Fountain Street, was built in 1829. The priest is the Rev MA Power."

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851)

Postcard of All Saints Church c1904.

Postcard of St Edwards Church c1950


Church Records

Church of England Registers
The parish register of the parish church of St Edward the Confessor, commences in 1634. The original registers for the period 1634-1946 (Bapts), 1634-1946 (Mar) & 1634-1973 (Bur) and Banns for the period 1754-1756 are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts, 1662-1853 (with gaps 1663-73, 1677, 1756-57, 1767-70 & 1854-63) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.
A transcript of the registers for the period 1634-1695 was published by the Staffordshire Parish Register Society in 1919 and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

The register of St Luke, Leek, commences in 1848. The original registers for the period 1849-1947 (Bapts) & 1848-1961 (Mar) are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.

The register of All Saints, Compton, Leek, commences in 1887. The original registers for the period 1887-1911 (Bapts) & 1889-1929 (Mar) are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.

Nonconformist Registers
The following nonconformist registers are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office:
Leek Circuit Wesleyan Methodist 1837-1963 (Bapts)
Leek Bethesda, Ball Haye Street Methodist 1949-1962 (Mar)
Leek Brunswick Chapel, Market Street, Wesleyan Methodist
1861-93 & 1909-76 (Bapts), 1890-1913 & 1913-1976 (Mar)
Leek Derby Street Independent 1785-1833 (Bapts)
Leek Derby Street Congregationalist 1856-1897 (Bapts), 1857-1892 (Mar)
Leek Fountain Street Primitive Methodist 1925-1946 (Mar)
Leek Mill Street Wesleyan Methodist 1925-1975 (Bapts), 1926-81(Mar)
Leek Mount Pleasant Wesleyan Methodist 1808 (Births & Bapts), 1837-1963 (Bapts)
1850-1977 (Mar) & 1850-1974 (Bur)
Leek Union Street Independent 1830-37 (Bapts)

Registers of the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary, Leek, for the period 1830-date (Bapts) and 1844-date (Mar) remain with the incumbent.



Description & Travel

Tony Smith's Leek Online pages include information on the local area and a message board for queries.

A transcription of the section on Leek and Lowe from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)

Conservation Area Appraisals for Leek  - interesting accounts of the areas, with excellent historical detail, numerous photographs and maps

You can see pictures of Leek and Lowe which are provided by:



The transcription of the section for Leek and Lowe from the Topographical Dictionary of England (1859)

The transcription of the section for Leek and Lowe from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.

The transcription of the section for Leek and Lowe from the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)


Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Leek and Lowe has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



The transcription of the section for the history of  Leek and Lowe from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SJ986589 (Lat/Lon: 53.127434, -2.022258), Leek and Lowe which are provided by:



The silk manufacture of Leek has long been in a flourishing state, and has been so considerably extended during the last 20 years, that several extensive mills and factories have been erected. In the same period, several new streets have been formed and many of the manufacturers have erected handsome residences in the suburbs.
The articles in silk and mohair, for which the town is chiefly celebrated, are sewing silks, twist, buttons, ribbons, ferrets, galloons, handkerchiefs, shawls, sarcenet and broad silk.
Florentine buttons, consisting of wood, bone, or iron moulds, covered with worsted stuff, are also manufactured here, and give employment to many hundreds of women and children in the surrounding villages, who are employed in sewing the cloth on the moulds.
In the silk trade, many large fortunes have been made by the late and present manufacturers, and some of their weavers and other workmen have been enabled, by industry and economy, to build convenient houses for their own occupation.
Opposite the entrance of the Hope Silk Mills is a fish pond, enclosed with palisades and stocked with upwards of 600 goldfish, supplied with fresh water from the engine pump.

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851)



Poor Houses, Poor Law

The parish gave name to, and became part of Leek Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

Leek Union comprised all of Leek parish, and most of that of Alstonfield, as well as Horton, Norton, and Sheen. The 19 parishes and townships in the union were as follows:
Leek and Lowe, Leekfrith, Bradnop, Onecote, Rudyard, Heaton, Rushton Spencer, Rushton James, Endon, Longsdon, Stanley, and Tittisworth, all in Leek parish.
Warslow & Upper & Lower Elkstone, Longnor, Heathylee, Hollinsclough, Quarnford, and Fawfield Head, all in Alstonfield parish.
The three parishes of Horton, Sheen and Norton-in-the-Moors.
In 1851 the union had a population of 21,827, with an area of 82 square miles.
The Union Workhouse was an large, brick building half a mile from Leek town, erected in 1838, with room for more than 250 people.

The following records of the union are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office:
Relieving Officers' application and report book 1845-1846
Minutes 1837-1930
Various ledgers and financial reports

The following records of the union are deposited at the Public Records Office, Kew:
Correspondence, etc 1834-1887, 1891-1900 (Class ref MH12/11297-323)
Staff Registers 1837-1921 (Class ref MH9/10)



Probate Records

Jennifer Davies unpublished MPhil Thesis entitled "Wills and Religious Change in the Archdeaconry of Stafford, 1532-1580" examines in great detail the entire complement of wills from the deanery of Leek probated between 1532 and 1580, to assess response of the testators to religious change through the first fifty years of the Reformation