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Historic Weston & Basford

"A Short History of Weston & Basford" produced for the Parish Council

Weston and Basford are two villages in South Cheshire, situated to the south-east of Crewe.

Weston consists of the village and the hamlets of Stowford, Carters Green, Snape, Englesea Brook and now also Wychwood Park and Village. Gorsty Hill and Rosehill used to be part of Weston Parish before they were transferred to Balterley Parish in 1965.

Basford village extends mainly along Weston Lane and its junction with Back Lane.

Basford is recorded in the Norman Domesday Book of 1086, consisting of three manors, which most likely represent Basford, Hough and Weston.

Basford’s ancient name was ‘Berchesford’ as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name may mean ‘a ford near birch trees’ or may represent the name of a person, i.e. ‘Beorcal’s or Borkr’s, Barkr’s ford’, the two latter names being of Scandinavian influence.

Weston’s name means ‘Western farm or hamlet’, named so because it is due west of Barthomley.

Ancient archaeological discoveries point to the history of the two villages before their Saxon foundations.

Prehistoric finds have been made, two flint daggers were found in Basford, along with a number of other flint tools found in both Basford and Weston. ‘Barrow Gorse’ shown on the above map, may indicate the site of a Bronze Age burial mound.

The Romans also left traces. A Roman hoard of silver denarii coins and brooches was discovered near to Weston, other coins, artefacts and pottery have also been found.

There is also evidence suggesting a Roman road passing through the two parishes, from Nantwich, via the Shavington Salt Pans site. There is a field named ‘Street Field’ in Basford.

Weston and Basford were originally part of the Parish of Wybunbury, which is an ancient parish dating from Saxon times.

Weston Hall was the Manor of Weston, which sadly burnt down in 2005. The site was originally moated; a succession of buildings would have stood on the site.

Basford Hall was the Manor of Basford, which also had a moat; the railway destroyed much of the site. The timber framed manor house was destroyed by fire about 1700AD.

In the reign of Henry VIII, an insight into the size of Weston is given. There are 8 messuages, 4 tofts, one water mill, 500 acres of land, 50 acres of meadow, 60 acres of pasture, 140 acres of wood, 140 acres of heath, 200 acres of turf, 200 acres of moor and Thomas Smyth holds the manor receiving 41 shillings in rent.

The area was also affected by the English Civil War. The Parliamentary Garrison at Crewe Hall, just to the north of Weston, was sieged by the Royalists after the infamous ‘Barthomley Massacre’. They won control of the hall, but were later sieged and taken prisoner, after the Parliamentarians won the Battle of Nantwich.

Weston and Basford have been part of the estates of large landowners in the past. Weston and Basford were held by numerous families throughout the medieval period; The Praer, Griffin, Delves and Smyth families; and the Harecourt, Woodnoth, Bromley and Cholmondeley families respectively.

After this Weston and parts of Basford were predominately owned by the Delves Broughton family of Doddington and the Crewe family of Crewe Hall (which was later sold to the Duchy of Lancaster).

There are numerous examples of historic buildings in Weston, with many being listed, to protect their historic heritage. There are examples of 17th century timber framed buildings and later Estate cottages, farms and farm buildings. Most of the old houses of Basford have disappeared, 17th century timber framed buildings did exist, and local people still remember them.

The Parish Church for Weston and Basford (and also Chorlton), is All Saints, situated in the centre of Weston village. It was built between 1838 and 1840, in the Early English style. It is constructed in brick, ornamented with pinnacles at each corner, and neatly pewed. It has a turret containing the church bell and a west porch. A chancel and choir was added to the church in 1893.

The parish was formed into a District Parish in 1848, with the townships of Weston and Basford being formed into civil parishes in 1866.

Other places of worship were the Englesea Brook Primitive Methodist Chapel, Cemetery Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and Cemetery Road Mount Pleasant Primitive Methodist Chapel.

There have been five public houses in Weston over the centuries, two of which survive, being The White Lion and The Broughton Arms. The White Lion used to be a farm before it was an inn, and was called Green Farm.

Other public houses were The Vine next to the village shop, The Red Lion Inn, and next door, The Ostrich, which was pulled down and replaced by the Malthouse Cottages in 1776, next to the Red Lion.

Just over the parish boundary of Basford in Chorlton (where the Bailey bridge was), an Inn and later hotel existed. It was first called The New Inn, then The Basford Inn, then The Basford Bridge Hotel, and later The Delves Arms Temperance Hotel. It is now a private house named Basford House.

This Inn/Hotel first served the railway station which existed here, which connected the railway with Nantwich and Betley, via the Newcastle to Nantwich Turnpike Road.

Weston and Basford also had two water mills, which date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, Weston Hall Mill or Weirford Mill and Crotia (Crowshaw) Mill.

The First World War is remembered in All Saints Church with two plaques, which record the servicemen who gave thanks for surviving the war, and also the servicemen who lost their lives.

At the time of the Second World War Weston had its own POW Camp, based at Snape Farm, where 300 prisoners were housed, firstly Italian and then German POWs, some of whom were put to work on the surrounding farms. Nearby Crewe Hall was used for a number of uses throughout the Second World War, its last use also as a POW Camp, but for 2000 German officers, who posed a greater security risk.

Weston and Basford have predominantly been based on an agricultural economy in the past. However with the coming of the railways and the development of Crewe town, residents who had been largely employed in agriculture, then took up other vocations, based around the Industrial centre of Crewe.

Weston and Basford are now made up of a diverse population, who work in many differing professions, but farming is still practised around the two villages.

The 2001 Census gives an insight into the population of Weston and Basford, Weston had a population of 969 people and Basford had a population of 266 people.

In modern times Weston and Basford have also seen much development, roads to the Motorway, then the A500 bypass, Wychwood Park and Village. More development has been planned, the Crewe Green A500 link road, and Basford East & West Development Sites.

There is a post office and general store, the new Primary School, Stepping Stones Nursery, The White Lion, Wychwood Park Hotel, two golf courses, Englesea Brook Methodist Museum, two village halls and numerous other businesses.

By Charles E S Fairey, November 2010