‘Our House’: White Hart Hotel, Cheadle, Stockport

For my last week in Stockport before we move onto pastures new, I have decided to stick with the pub theme. Therefore, this week’s Our House blog is a postcard of the White Hart in Cheadle. Sadly, the postcard was never sent, so I don’t have a date for the image.

The pub is situated in Cheadle, formally called Cheadle Buckley. Cheadle is now part of Stockport, however, it used to be part of the Macclesfield Hundred. In the thirteenth century, the Lord of Cheadle was Geoffrey De Dutton who acquired it by marriage to an heiress of the ‘Cheadle’ family. The whole of the manor was eventually obtained by the Bulkeley family – think back to last week’s blog on the Warren Bulkeley. After the death of James Viscount Bulkeley, the manor was sold to Rev. Thomas Egerton in 1756. In 1806, it was sold again to John Worthington.

Some of the earliest sources that I find that mention the hotel are adverts from the mid-eighteenth century. The adverts are promoting auction lots that were coming up at the pub.

Manchester Mercury (1789)

The first proprietor that I find at the hotel is John Downes and his wife Elizabeth. They are running the White Hart in the second half of the eighteenth century. By the start of the nineteenth century a man named John Davies was the proprietor. Davies was born in 1756 and died in 1816. Following his death, his wife Mary took over the pub.

Sometime in the early 1830s, the Parkinson family moved into the White Hart. During their time at the pub, it appeared in the local press as part of a daring highways robbery trial. The events began on 20th January 1843, when an organ grinder named George Coppock visited a pub in Salford. Coppock was asked by the landlord John Brough, if he would provide the pub with an organ at a reasonable price. Coppock agreed, and told the landlord that he one in Stockport. Brough and another man in the pub called Joseph Cantrill, decided to go with Coppock to Stockport to look at the organ. When the men reached Levenshulme, it was just after nine o’clock at night. They decided to stop in Levenshulme and visited the Pack Horse pub.

The Pack Horse pub, Levenshulme (1970s) © Manchester Libraries M50196

As soon as they left the pub, one of the men knocked Coppock to the ground and covered his eyes. Cantrill then cut Coppocks pocket from his coat which contained five sovereigns, eight half-crowns and some silver. Once the men had left, Coppock managed to get back to the Pack Horse and raise the alarm. The following day, the houses of both men were raided and it was found that they had new clothes and a sovereign. Mr Parkinson, manager of the White Hart, testified that the night of the robbery the two men stayed at the hotel. They asked him to keep safe five sovereigns and eight half-crowns, which he did and returned the money to them the following day. At a subsequent trial, both men were found guilty and sentenced to ten years transportation.

Seven years after the trial, William Leigh takes over the hotel. He lives at the address with his wife Ellen and five children.

1851 Census of England

In 1860, the pub is featured in the Cheshire Directory. The Directory states that Cheadle Buckley, was a ‘populous and well-built village’. In 1851, there were 1,147 houses occupied by 5,489 inhabitants. The proprietor of the pub at this time was Ann Hargreaves.

By 1861, the pub had changed hands again. The census that year revealed that Edward Anderson, his wife Sarah Annie and their two children, alongside three servants and a cook, are all living at the address. This is the only census that the Anderson family appear at the White Hart. Three years after the census was taken Edward Anderson died. He was only 34 years old.

The next proprietor was James Evans. Before taking over the White Hart, he had been the borough surveyor for Salford. Evan’s was born in 1804 in Somerset. By 1851, he was a widower living in Salford.

The grave of James Evans who died in 1869

James was only the proprietor for a few years. Sadly in 1869, he passed away. On the day of his funeral, his coffin was carried from the White Hart and into the church next door. Present at the funeral was Evan’s old Newfoundland dog, who stayed inside the church for the service and then was at the graveside for the committal. A local newspaper reported that the dog regularly visited Evan’s grave.

The next proprietor was William Atkinson Thornton, who was born in Manchester in 1840. In 1865, he married Elizabeth Wagstaff at St John’s Church in Manchester. It appears that Thornton was the proprietor of the hotel twice; first in the early 1870s and then again in the 1880s.

Midway through the 1870s, William Thornton had moved back to Manchester and was running the Alton House Hotel.

Manchester Evening News (1875)

Also during the 1870s, Thornton became a Freemason. He was 29 years old. He was a member of the Devonshire Lodge from 1871 to 1887.

By 1881, William Thornton and his family had left Manchester and were back at the White Hart. They are now employing three servants; Sarah Chesters, a general servant; George Stoodley, a groom and Mary Weaver who was a barmaid.

Mary Weaver was born in Manchester in 1857. In 1881, Weaver appeared in the local press when a butcher from Gatley named Charles Mallison was charged with assaulting her. It appears that Mallison was already drunk when he arrived at the White Hart. While he was in the bar, he approached Mary and put his arm around her waist. He then ‘used expressions which Miss Weaver thought very unbecoming’. Mary told him that she would not stand for that kind of behaviour and threw him out of the pub. Mallison left, but returned again a short time later and refused to leave. He was then apprehended and charged with assault, being drunk and refusing to ‘quit the house’. Mallison was subsequently found guilty and was ordered to pay 20s plus costs for the assault, and 10s plus costs for refusing to leave the hotel.

During the 1880s, the hotel was heavily associated with Manchester’s theatre scene. This is because Thornton was also a theatrical animal trainer. It is likely that he trained the famous ‘Monsieur Paulo’s performing dog troop’ and that is why he stayed at the White Hart.

Manchester Evening News (1882)
The Stage (1884)

In the autumn of 1884, Thornton was given a gift by a Captain Harrington. The gift was none other than a ‘gorilla monkey’. Thornton had trained the monkey to do tricks and become somewhat ‘domesticated’. However, in March 1885, the ‘gorilla’ escaped from its cage. One of the hotel waiters was sent to catch him, however, the monkey (apparently) didn’t recognise the waiter and attacked him. His screams, attracted the attention of Thornton who came rushing to his aid. The monkey then turned on Thornton, inflicting a deep wound on his face. Thornton put his hand up to protect himself. Seeing his hand, the monkey lunged and bit off the top of one of his fingers. The monkey was eventually caught and was put to sleep.

Thornton also exported show dogs aboard. In 1889, a fox terrier that he had purchased from the dog loving Sir Humphrey de Trafford, which was due to be sent to Brussels, was stolen from the White Hart. Thornton offered a sizeable reward of £5 for its return.

Sadly, in 1885, William Thornton’s wife Elizabeth died. Every year, on the anniversary of her death, her husband took out a memorandum in the local newspaper.

Manchester Evening News 1904

Two years after her death, an inquest was held at the White Hart. The deceased was a man named Edward Laycock, who was a department manager at A. & S, Henry & co. He lived in Cheadle with his with his sister and niece. Apparently, the day before his death, he had gone to work as normal, returning home at 2pm. He then remained at home and to bed at 10pm. When Laycock’s niece went to give him cup of tea the following morning, she found blood splattered around the room and her uncle was dead in his bed. After hearing all the evidence, the jury at the inquest ruled that Laycock had died from a burst blood vessel.

In 1898, the hotel appeared in the press when a local man named Henry Nadin stole a bicycle from one of the sheds. Two other bikes were also stolen in Cheadle at the same time. It appears that Nadin swopped some of the parts of the bicycles in a bid to make them unrecognisable. He then tried to sell the altered bikes in Didsbury.

An early image of the White Hart

By 1890, William’s son, also called William Atkinson Thornton, had moved out of the pub and was living in Manchester. In 1895, he married Olivia Armstrong. At the time of the marriage, the couple were living at same address on Long Millgate.

The 1901 Census reveals that William Atkinson Thornton (Jnr) and his family had moved to Cheadle. They had their own house on Hall Street. William (Jnr) was helping his father manage the pub and his wife Olivia was raising their children. Olivia appears to have constantly been pregnant during her child bearing years. The 1911 Census reveals that she had given birth to nine children, with one child sadly dying before adulthood. The age gap between her two youngest children, appears to have been just short of a year. She must have been knackered!! The census also reveals that the house William (Jnr) and his family were living in was a two-up two-down terrace. The family of eleven lived and slept in only four rooms.

On the same 1901 census, William Thornton (Snr) is still at the White Hart. Also at the address is his daughter, Lillian Maud, and three general servants. The 1911 Census reveals that the Hotel had approximately 14 rooms. It also shows that William (Snr) is still managing the pub at the age of 69. His daughter Lilian is now 22 years old and is unmarried. Sadly, it further shows that William actually had three children, with one sadly dying before 1911.

Eight years after the 1911 census, William Atkinson Thornton (Snr) died. He was 77 years old. In his Will he left a large estate worth £5,479 8s 11d.

In 1919, Joseph Adamson took over the pub. Adamson was from Bolton and for the previous two-and-a-half years had managed the St James Hotel in Bolton. Adamson was still at the White Hart at the start of WWII. He died in 1943 at his home on Hall Grove. He was 68 years old. He left behind his wife Sarah Ann Adamson.

An early postcard of the White Hart verses what it looks like in 2020. © Michala Hulme

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