Cheadle Old Rectory
(The Post Office)
by Ian O'Brien, 2014
Although long gone, the Old Rectory was an important building of it's day. It stood proudly where the Post Office now stands. The Old Rectory stood for 409 years (c 1530 to 1939) behind a large wall spanning the length of where Rectory Gardens shops are now.
The attractive timber black and white architecture is believed to have been constructed from materials left over from the building of St. Mary's church. It is thought from the start to have been the manor house of Cheadle Bulkeley, (the Bulkeley family name being the big name of Cheadle) and was of significant historical and architectural interest.
The second picture down on the left shows a watercolour of the Old Rectory from the late 18th century, apparantly a classical exterior disguising a much earlier building. If you have good enough eyesite, you might be able to make out a lady in the doorway that is said to be a daughter of Reverend Thomas Cripps, rector from 1775 to 1794.
The Old Rectory had orchards, barns, stables and most probably an ice house (ice houses were used before refrigerators where snow and ice would be collected in winter and insulated to last for months)
Now if you compare the watercolour with the other photographs, they don't seem to have a great deal of resemblance, this is probably because the house was extensively altered and modernised which led to the belief that it was 18th to 19th century.
The two storey porch was the only sign of it's Tudor origins,
the original house was actually very big, in 1664 it was shown for the Hearth Tax as having no less than 13 hearths, when in fact the next largest house only had 5!!! In 1728 it was described as having six bays, measuring 100 feet in length.
In 1440, the Bulkeley family moved to Anglesey, and their old manor house then became a Rectory with the possibility of their youngest son being the Rector.
In fact, the Bulkeley's have several times been the rectors and priests of Cheadle as well as Lords of the Manor. Of course, we remember that Lady Katherine Bulkeley, the nun whose ghost is said to haunt The White Hart and other parts of Cheadle.
The Rectory was badly damaged by fire in 1767 and then lovingly restored. More re-building was done in 1839 to the north end after the building was this time badly damaged in a bad storm. A decision to demolish The Old Rectory was made in 1937, and prior to that happening in 1939, public tours were extremely popular with people who wanted to see the beautiful interior of the building. When it was finally demolished, some of the workmen found original wattle and daub walls. (Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw.)
The start of World war two put an end to any other findings at the site. In 2014, the Post office that now stands where the Old Rectory used to be was set to be moved into the village itself into a building once called Alcocks fashions, this was thought to be a cheaper option than it's present site, and would have been a brilliant opportunity to process and record any archaeological remains that may have been found. However, it will now stay where it is combining it's services with WH Smith instead.