The History of Over Peover

This is comprehensively covered in the book “Over Peover—A Cheshire Parish” written by Barry Wienholdt and the late John Mottershead, assisted by Glynn and Dorothy Heselwood and Sheila Stockley. It was published to commemorate the golden jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. It sold out, but it may be reprinted in the future. Should this occur, it will be widely publicised on this website.

Meanwhile we are indebted to the Over Peover Parish Council who own the copyright, for allowing us to reproduce parts of it here.

In ancient times Over Peover was part of an immense oak wood and the County of Cheshire provided various monarchs with timber for warships and weapons.  Ruling monarchs, for their part, have not always treated the lands of Cheshire so generously.

The changes initiated by Alfred the Great in the ninth century were, however, beneficial to Cheshire.  He divided England into Counties, Hundreds and Tithings, for the protection of property and the execution of justice.  Ten of these tithings formed a hundred. A variable number of these hundreds formed a County or Shire.  The kingdom had been divided into parishes soon after the introduction of Christianity in the seventh century.  The parish boundaries, as marked in The Domesday Book, a survey of all the lands in the kingdom undertaken after the Norman Conquest, agree very nearly with the present divisions. The parish of Over Peover or Peover Superior is within the Bucklow Hundred, one of six hundreds covering Cheshire, excluding the city of Chester.

The Norman Conquest, in comparison, resulted in destruction and mayhem in many places in Cheshire.  Following his success at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror endeavoured to suppress numerous uprisings in various parts of the country, particularly in the north of England.  In the summer of 1069 Norman armies marched across the Pennines into Cheshire to quell a rebellion.  Once the uprising had been crushed, William’s forces destroyed all before them.  The Domesday Book describes Over Peover, together with many manors in Cheshire, as ‘wasta’ meaning ‘abandoned’ or ‘useless land’.  A good number of the Saxon lords were dispossessed of their lands and the spoils of these acts of devastation were divided between the victorious Normans.  One such adventurer was Ranulphus, who was believed to have been William’s nephew.  Over Peover was one of several manors granted to Ranulphus from whom the Mainwaring family ancestry may be traced.  Thus it was that the Mainwaring family established itself in the parish and, for several centuries thereafter, the fortunes of the inhabitants of Over Peover became inextricably linked with this ancestral lineage.

At the time of the Domesday survey Peover was spelt Pevre, although previously in Anglo Saxon times, it had been spelt Peever. The name, regardless of its spelling, means Bright Stream or Shining Water, a reference to the river now known as the Peover Eye. The river forms one of the Parish boundaries and gives rise to the words Over and Lower, reflecting the difference in elevation between the parishes.

The various Peovers cause much confusion for visitors to the area.  Lower Peover, also known as Peover Inferior or Little Peover, lies within the Bucklow Hundred and combines as a village with Nether Peover, which lies within the Northwich Hundred.  Following boundary adjustments made in recent years, approximately half of Lower Peover is part of the Vale Royal Borough with the remainder being part of Macclesfield Borough.  Over Peover or Peover Superior, also known as Higher Peover, is part of Macclesfield Borough. Peover Heath is a hamlet within the parish of Over Peover.

Today, Over Peover remains a country parish which is mainly farmland but also home to some seven hundred people, only a small increase in the population of 580 inhabitants of the parish in 1841.  However, whereas there were only 102 dwellings in 1841, there are now nearly three hundred spread out in clusters of population, each one being no more than a hamlet.  To the west is the Free Green Lane area, which is almost exclusively farming and horticultural land.  To the north is Radbroke Hall, which is now occupied by Barclays Bank, whilst in the centre along Stocks Lane is an area of horticultural and agricultural smallholdings.  To the east is the hamlet of Peover Heath and there is a further hamlet at Four Lane-ends, where the Village Hall is situated, close to where the Post Office used to be.  To the south is Bate Mill with its water mill, and Bate Mill Farm.  The heart of the parish is the area around the Park Gate Inn and the Village School with the cricket club and the parish field nearby.

Extract from “Over Peover—A Cheshire Parish” with the kind permission of Over Peover Parish Council.