History of Knutsford 

Tradition links Knutsford with King Canute (995-1035) who is supposed to have forded the Lily Stream  in 1016 giving the Town it's name. Knutsford appears in the Domesday Book of 1085 as "Cunetesford" and in 1292 a charter was granted to William de Tabley by King Edward I allowing a court, market and fair to be established. The 38 Burgesses were empowered to elect a Bailiff and Mayor, the first recorded holder of the title was John Hall. The office of Mayor lapsed, but was revived in 1974 following the formation of the Town Council. 

Knutsford was once a famous cockfighting centre, and from 1729-1873 its racecourse too was famous. On racing days the county families used to drive in with their coaches. Knutsford was also the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cranford". 

Knutsford has been the home to many notable people, from Elizabeth Gaskell to Highwayman Higgins; and it has also been a place which many have visited. Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) visited in 1832, and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) visited in 1887. Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III) visited in 1848, as have numerous other figures from history including Winston Churchill.

Knutsford Heritage Centre

Knutsford Heritage Centre is a must visit attraction in Knutsford for those who want to find out more on the History of Knutsford. It is also the home to the Knutsford Millennium Tapestry!


Knutsford Royal May Day

The Knutsford Royal May Day celebrations are some of the oldest of their kind in the country. The "Royal" prefix was bestowed by Albert Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) when he visited Knutsford during the celebrations of 1887.

Knutsford Unitarian Chapel

The Brook Street Unitarian Chapel dates back to c. 1689 and was built following the Act of Toleration. It is the only Grade I listed building in Knutsford, and the burial place of Elizabeth Gaskell. 

Knutsford Gaol

The Knutsford House of Correction was built in 1817 due to overcrowding at Chester. It was enlarged in 1853 but  ceased taking prisoners prior to 1914, and was demolished in 1934. The site is now occupied by Booths, but the grand courthouse remains. 

The Royal George

Originally named "the George and Dragon", it became The Royal George in 1832 following a visit by the then Princess Victoria. It was a hugely popular coaching station in the 19th Century.

The Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall was built by Lord Egerton in 1872, the downstairs was an open market with a meeting hall upstairs. However it was never used by the Urban District Council so never actually used as a Town Hall! 

Historic Streets

The town centre is full of historic buildings. From the infamous Gaskell Memorial Tower and fantastic Georgian Architecture. Many of the Pubs and buildings which are now shops have a richly documented history. 

Further Reading...
To find out more on the History of Knutsford keep an eye out for the following books. Some of these are on sale in the Heritage Centre!

Knutsford: A History
by Joan Leach (2007)
Knutsford & District Through Time
by Paul Hurley (2011)
Knutsford, It's Tradtions and History 
by Henry Green (1859)

Knutsford in the 1830s

The Reverend John Beech wrote of Knutsford as it was in the 1830s in his autobiography: "It mainly consisted of parallel narrowish streets, a brick church, a blind looking house of correction and handsome courthouse. A square open market place one or two rows of dwellings which would now be dignified by the name of terraces and a few larger mansions which were occupied by solicitors, surgeons and retired military and naval officers and aristocratic spinsters of doubtful or in some cases undoubted age, who were generally the sisters, aunts or cousins of the seigneurs of the great families in the neighbourhood."