History of the area

Withington history tour
Early (pre-conquest) records of Withington do not appear to exist. Post-conquest records (Wythinton 1212, 1243, 1278, 1332, Witheton 1219, 1222, Withinton 1255, 1325, Wythington 1246, 1282, Whytinton 1302/3, Witington 1292,
Wydington and other variants), together with the environment of the area and related names elsewhere, support the origin of the place-name as Old English "Within-ton" - a settlement ("ton/tun") associated with willows ("withen/within").*

In the early 13th Century, Withington is recorded as an independent manor under the lordship of William de Withington. By the turn of the 14th Century, it had become a submanor of the manor of Manchester which was in the possession of the de Haversage family, then the de Longfords, followed by the Moseley family. The last lords of the manor of Withington were the Egertons of Tatton. See the Manorial History for more details.

Withington remained virtually unchanged, as a small country village surrounded by fields, until the middle of the 19th Century when communications and transport improved with the establishment of the Manchester and Wilmslow Turnpike Trust, the construction of the Cheadle and Palatine Road Bridges and the opening of the Midland Railway in 1880. From 1876, Withington was run by a Local Board with an extensive area of governance. Between 1894-1904, Withington became an Urban District Council. The former Withington Town Hall (1881) still remains on Lapwing Lane, near the junction with Palatine Road. In 1904, Withington was incorporated into the City of Manchester.

Withington village centre and its surrounding area were designated a Conservation Area in 1983. The Conservation Area contains a number of listed buildings, including St. Paul's Church, the Red Lion, the White Lion and the National Westminster Bank, amongst other buildings of historical and architectural interest throughout Withington, Old Moat and Ladybarn.


Old Moat takes its name from the site of a moated manor house immediately to the west of Withington village near the demolished Withington Old Hall. There is a plaque (dated Sept 1928) recording the site of the old moat .

Lady Barn appears as  a small group of buildings to the east of Withington, and surrounded by fields, on maps from the early nineteenth century
The tithe map of 1845-48 records Ladybarn as a district and field name. Lady Barn House was formerly used as a school (founded in 1873). More historical notes can be found on the Ladybarn page.

In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Withington as follows:

WITHINGTON, a township and a chapelry in Manchester parish, Lancashire. The township lies 4 miles S of Manchester railway station; has a post-office‡ under Manchester; and includes Fallowfield, which also has a post-office under Manchester. Acres, 2,498. Real property, £16,747. Pop. in 1851, 1,492; in 1861, 2,712,-of whom 771 were in Chorlton workhouse. Houses, 347. The manor belongs to Lord Egerton. There are numerous villas and other good residences. Chorlton workhouse here was built in 1855, at a cost of about £53,000. The Lancashire Independent College also is here, but has been noticed in our article on Hulme.—The chapelry was constituted in 1854. Pop., 2,775. Houses, 359. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Manchester. Value, £362.* Patrons, Trustees. The church was built in 1841. There are a Wesleyan chapel and a national school.

[This account gives a snapshot of Withington at the time. For example, note the number of people in the workhouse - 28% of the population in 1861. However, the "catchment area" of the workhouse extended well beyond Withington. The remaining people have a household occupancy of about 5 people per house, suggesting not only largish families but also live-in servants in many households. Indeed many of the larger Victorian houses in Withington still have the remains of servants' quarters.]


* See The place names of Lancashire, E. Ekwall, Manchester University Press, 1922 . Available online at http://archive.org/details/placenamesoflanc00ekwauoft. (Place-name evidence supports the above derivation rather than a suggested derivation from a Saxon personal name "Widdingas".)

Historical articles, notes and collections

A series of articles on the history of the area:

Historical resources

An attractive booklet of old photographs of the area and interesting historical notes is "Looking Back at Withington and Didsbury" by Gay Sussex and Peter Helm (Willow Publishing, 1988. Reprinted 1993).

A small book covering Withington history is:
"A history of  Withington" by Kenneth Whittaker (1957, EJ Morten Publishers;  Rev Ed edition, October 1969)

Covering Manchester suburbs in general is: "Illustrated History of Manchester's Suburbs"
by Glynis Cooper (Breedon Books, in association with Manchester Libraries, 2002. ISBN: 1-85983-292-X. Website: www.breedonbooks.co.uk). This has several pages on each of the larger suburbs, including Withington (but with a few errors).

Maps from the 19th century and early 20th century record the development of Withington, Old Moat and Ladybarn. See the Old Maps page for a guide to available maps.
 
For a extensive collection of old and recent pictures of the area and of Manchester, see the Manchester Local Image Collection.

Watercourses through the area are described in "The Lost Rivers of Manchester" by Geoffrey Ashworth (Willow Publishing, 1987). See the Watercourses Page.

An online summary of some aspects of the history of the area (especially ancient and manorial history)  is Victoria County History: 'Townships: Withington', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 288-293 (William Farrer & J. Brownbill (editors)).

Extract from an historical archive of a wider area (1282) [
Remains, historical & literary, connected with the palatine counties of Lancaster and Chester (1844-86)]

Other sources of historical information may be found on the  City Council's webpages, and on the "Virtual Encyclopedia of Greater Manchester". This site also provides a list of books on Manchester and its history.

The place names of Lancashire, E. Ekwall, Manchester University Press, 1922 . Available online at http://archive.org/details/placenamesoflanc00ekwauoft

A history of St. Paul's Church (Withington) may be found on the church website.

The Wikipedia page for Withington includes some history and has useful links to other resources.

"Withington that was" by Kenneth Whittaker (193, Lumb Lane, Audenshow, Manchester)
is an interesting booklet, as is
"Withington worthies" by the same author.