History of Gawsworth

Gawsworth’s history goes back to the 1086 Doomsday Book, listed as “Gouesurde” and belonging to Earl Hugh of Chester.

The first school in Gawsworth was built by Lord Mohun in 1707 close to the Church of St James, it was used as the village school until 1832 and is now the new Rectory. The next school was down Church Lane by the crossroads and was in use until 1966 when, owing to the expansion of the village a new school was needed.

Gawsworth Old Hall is a grade I listed building built between 1480 and 1600 it was extensively remodeled in 1701, the hall was the subject of the most famous duel in English History – between Lord Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton. Gawsworth New Hall, a grade II listed building was built in 1707 by Lord Mohun, but abandoned after he was killed in the duel. Gawsworth Old Rectory is yet another Grade I listed building, build around 1470 and noted as one of the best preserved medium sized houses in Cheshire.

Records indicate that a chapel existed in Gawsworth in the 13th century, but it wasn’t until 1430 that the Church of St James was constructed. The nave dates to this time, with the chancel and tower built in 1470. In the churchyard there is a 15/16th century cross base, with a 20th century wooden cross. Inside the church are the tombs of four members of the Fitton family who lived in Gawsworth Old Hall, one of which is Mary Fitton, a contender for the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The Parish registers date to 1557.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was built in 1892.

The Population of Gawsworth was well recorded in the 19th century, and fluctuated between 567 and 847, it boomed in the 1950’s when it reached 1,093 and in 2013 the population is 1,705.

Maggoty Johnson

Visitors to Gawsworth might be curious as to why a single tomb lies in a small spinney known as “Maggoty Wood”. Samuel Johnson (1691-1773), also known as Maggoty Johnson and Lord Flame, was a dancing master and dramatist, best know for the nonsense play “Hurlothrumbo”. It is noted that he was one of England’s last professional jesters, employed by the Lord of the manor at Gawsworth Old Hall. He was a talented musician and his violin remains on display in the dining room of the Old Hall. In retirement he lived in Gawsworth New Hall, a gift to him by the Lord of manor and upon his death was was buried in the churchyard. However it was discovered that his wish was to be buried in the vault he had designed and built in the woods he used to visit with his servant. He was disinterred and reburied in the area now known as Maggoty Wood.

Upon his grave is a stone bearing an inscription thought to be written by Samuel himself, with a further stone added in 1851 bearing another inscription. To read the inscriptions visit the CarlsCam website

Historic Photographs of Gawsworth

These photos show Gawsworth as it once was, if you have any old photographs to share, please contact the Clerk. You can e-mail your digital scans, or post originals which we will scan and return to you.