Glossop Heritage Trust

The Hamlet of Chunal.


This page is based on the notes of Robert Hamnett, originally published as an article in the Glossop Advertiser in 1913.

Chunal in Edward the Confessor's time (A.D. 1041-66), belonged to an Anglo-Saxon nobleman called Eilmar, who also had estates in Hadfield. At that time it was called Coehal, an Anglo-Saxon name meaning “The husbandman's place of entertainment, inn or house.”

After the Conquest it became the property of the crown, and eventually the property of the Charlesworth's. In 1308 Robert de Charlesworth gave it to the Abbey of Basingwerk, and it became part of the Manor of Glossop; at the same time he gave the abbey land in Charlesworth and Simmondley. Henry VIII seized all the land in this neighbourhood belonging to the Abbot in 1536-39.

During the time the monks lived in Glossop, from 1157 to the time they were robbed, the monks either made or improved from Charlesworth to Hollingworth Head, and it is know today by the name of Monks Road. The monks also erected on this road two crosses, the Charlesworth Cross and one in the field on the opposite side of the road to the Abbot's Chair. The base of this cross is still in situ1.
Some time ago, Mr. J. D. Doyle, of High Street West, found a portion of the head of the cross in a wall near to; no doubt he would be quite willing to give it to the Glossop Museum. No remains of Charlesworth Cross are known to exist; probably portions are amongst the walls, as after the Reformation, crosses were smashed and the stones used for all kinds of purposes.
The Abbot's Chair is a rough hollowed out stone, and was probably used by the Abbot during his visits to this neighbourhood. The fact that it is situated on land unenclosed on the north is in itself evidence that the land was held sacred or it would have been long ago walled in and incorporated with the adjoining field.

Hollingworth Head is 1,079.7 feet above sea level.
The area of the Hamlet of Chunal is 902 statute yards.

Owing to the hilly nature of the land in the Hamlet, Chunal has not made the same progress in manufactures as the other hamlets in the Parish of Glossop. The flat portion between the Chunal and Gnat Hole bridges was, however, utilised for the erection of the Gnat Hole Woollen Mill and the Bury-me-Wick Cotton Mill. The Gnat Hole Mill was built by John Robinson, clothier, in 1790. He had a small mill at the Jumble, but owing to a better water supply, built the Gnat Hole Mill. The cloth manufactured here owing to the peaty water, the skill and care of the Robinsons in its manufacture was well known for its high class quality, and was second to none in the kingdom.
The Robinsons came from Saddleworth2, Joseph (son of John) had a habit of saying to anyone who vexed him, “I'll lame thee,” so they nicknamed him “Lawmner”; he died 28th August, 1846, aged 77. Mally his widow, died 7th November, 1862, aged 85. Their son George, at one time was partner with his brother Joseph at the Primrose Mill. George died at Ardwick, 25th October, 1864, aged 66.
Joseph built houses in Robinson's Court, and the shops, Nos. 14-16. Norfolk Street, where he carried on business as a woollen draper. He died 25th February, 1873, aged 73. His son Walter carried on the same business, and will be remembered by many of my readers, he died suddenly 1st September, 1900, aged 62. Joseph Robinson Senior's son Robert, died at Edale, 2nd January, 1854, at the age of 47. The roads at that time were impassable to ordinary vehicles owing to the snow, so that coffin was tied to a ladder and sledged by that means to Glossop, where he was interred. Another son, John, died 19th January, 1888, aged 75. Joseph's daughter, Lettice, died 21st February, 1874, aged 64, and her sister Mary, 10th February, 1881, aged 76. Owing to dissensions among the brothers the business gradually declined, and some of the sons emigrated, Henry dying in Tasmania in October, 18873. His brother was living there the last time I heard of him. Robert Robinson, of Chunal, represented Chunal as a Select Vestryman from 1808 to 1827, with the exception of three years.
The mill for some years has been in a ruinous state.

The Gnat Hole Wood is very pleasant in the Summer time when there are no gnats about. The small stream of water that runs through the wood at one place forms a small pool; this was known as Old Nat Nutter's Porridge Kettle. She had the reputation of being a witch and fortune teller and used this pool for unholy practices and incantations. She was a bogey to children. There is, or was, a stone in connexion with this stream; it was put up owing to a water dispute, and was inscribed:-
Here I lie,
Concealed in the dark,
Lying here as a water mark;
The floods shall not over me flow,
But down to Bury-me-Wick shall go.


Bury-me-Wick was so called from the number of fatal accidents that occurred there during its building and early occupation, a new hand being told by his fellow workers “Tha might as well be buried wick (alive) as work here”. It was afterwards called Chunal Mill, and now Dover Mill. The original mill was built in 1805 by a Shaw. In 1811 it was occupied by John Shaw, and it was assessed at £30. After his death, his widow and her sons continued the business until 1833 when it was burned down. The following account of the fire is from the Manchester Guardian:-
Early on Friday morning, the 18th October, a fire broke out in the cotton factory in the occupation of James Shaw and Brothers at Chunal, better known by the name of Bury-me-Wick Mill. It is supposed that the fire broke out upon the ground floor, where the blower was used, in which there was a considerable quantity of blown cotton. The flames were first observed by a man who was going to bed, about a quarter of a mile from the factory. He immediately roused his next neighbour, and in a few minutes they proceeded to the spot, alarmed the occupiers of the factory (who resided near it ) and others, but the fire by that time had spread through the second storey, and no engine being at hand it was considered vain to attempt to extinguish it. In little more than an hour the whole of the inside of the factory was consumed, leaving the bare walls standing and in a shattered condition. The warehouse part was attached to the factory, but as there was no communication between them it was prevented from igniting. The machinery was insured, the building was not.
It was rebuilt by John and Joseph Bennett, of Turn Lee Paper Mill, and was again burned down during their occupancy. It was rebuilt by Samuel Taylor, contractor, for his son Joe. It was sold by Samuel Taylor's Exors., 29th April, 1866 to Thomas Hamer Ibbotson for £1,000, who worked it in conjunction with Turn Lee Paper Mills until his bankruptcy. It has had many occupiers, but none was successful until Messrs. Olive and Partington came into possession. The old road by the mill was diverted to allow extensions to be made, and it is now a prosperous staining mill.

The old Bone Mill near the Grouse has long been disused and is now in a ruinous condition.

There is a tradition that the Monks used to have a fulling mill in Chunal, but I have never discovered any traces of it.

The Grouse Inn was built by Abraham Rowbottom and long occupied by Mr. William Goddard.

20 acres of moorland were reclaimed and for some time an Observatory Station in connexion with the Manchester University, was in being here, but now seems to have become disused.

There was formerly another licensed inn in Chunal called the Horse Shoe Inn, occupied by Samuel Pickford, farmer, blacksmith and innkeeper, who was rather an eccentric character. Now this house was the half way house between Glossop and Little Hayfield, and as it is rather a steep climb from Chunal Bridge to the old Horse Shoe those who were not teetotallers were in the habit of calling in, having a rest, and of course a wet. Amongst his regular customers was the Assessed Tax Collector, Joseph Wilkinson. One day he called in and Mr. Pickford had killed a pig; his wife was cooking “plucks” as there was to be that night a “Pluck eating stir.”
I believe the cooking of plucks creates a nice savoury smell. However, Mr Wilkinson fancied he would just like a taste of them, and he delicately hinted his taste to the landlord, who happened to be in one of his crusty moods; he immediately replied “Smelling's thy share.” Mr. Wilkinson was quite taken aback, but thought he would try again, as previously he had always been hospitably received, and he knew of no reason why he should not be treated as usual, so he said “Can I have a taste of the plucks?” Sam replied “Smelling's thy share.” “Well,” Mr. Wilkinson replied, “If I cannot have a taste I will write this epitaph,” and he pulled some paper out of his pocket and wrote:
“Here lies the body of Pickford Sam,
Whose life was real, his death no sham,
He made horse shoes and nailed them fast,
But death has nailed him here at last;
He roasted plucks and made them smell,
I hope his soul is not in hell;
He sold his brandy, whisky, and gin,
And if he's damned its for putting water in.”


To the west of the old Horse Shoe, in the fields, can be seen traces of the old pack saddle road which existed until the present turnpike road was made in 1793. Chunal, like other hamlets, had its highway surveyor and its pinfold, but many of the old houses and the pinfold have been taken down.

The Census returns are uncontradictory evidence of the progress or otherwise of any place in the kingdom. The following are the returns for the Hamlet of Chunal:-
Year Houses Inhabitants
1821 24 145
1831 19 119
1841 19 111
1851 21 113
1861 23 112
1871 30 106
1891 21 98

About 1797 Chunal Moor was planted with larch and scotch fir trees. They have now all been cut down. In 1876 when the Rifle Butts were at Chunal, the 500 and 600 yards firing points were in the plantation, and the trees were fairly numerous then.

On the eastern boundary of the Moor are some peculiarly shaped rocks, known as the Worm Stones; why so named I have never found anyone who could tell me. On the north-western boundary is a small wood, which 50 years ago contained some fine and rare specimens of plants. The Manchester Field Naturalists Society used to come often to this spot. On one occasion, 27th August, 1864, they were accompanied by Mr. L.H. Grindon, the celebrated botanist, and who at tea described the find of the day. It may interest our local naturalists to know what it was. It was the most beautiful fern seen for a long time, a unique variety of the Athyrium Filix fem: lacinatun - a perfect gem. I wonder if any specimens still grow there?

Two hundred years ago the principal families in Chunal were the Haighs, Shepleys, Nields and Bramhalls; there were others, but these were the families who remained there for a great number of years. The Shepleys are the only ancient family who still live in Chunal. The Nields were clothiers and stocking weavers as well as farmers. The old whitewashed farmhouse with the porch dates from 1699.

John O'Dolly's House was a three storied building, the upper portion being used for handloom cloth weaving.

Many of the old houses are now pulled down. In one of them was born Joseph Haigh or Hague. He was the most noted person born at Chunal. Butterworth, in his History of Glossop, gives the following account of Mr. Hague's life:-
“Mr. Hague was a wonderful instance of the effects of industry, joined with integrity and perseverance. He was the child of poverty, and began while a young boy with a few pence to buy and sell small articles which he carried in a basket; that became too small, and he then purchased an ass. From one step to another the profits of his dealings accumulated in a few years to a large fortune, and he became a very opulent merchant. On the loss of his children he adopted a family of the name of Doxon, of about seven children, his nephews and nieces, of Padfield, near Glossop, and gave them all good educations and handsome fortunes therewith, some of whom were married to the first merchants in Lombard Street, London, and others to people of consequence in Manchester. He divided the greatest part of his fortune amongst his relations during his lifetime, whilst in retirement at Park Hall, near Hayfield - an example of good sense and true generosity, which, it would be happy for mankind, if persons of property were to imitate, instead of indulging the idle vanity of being recorded as dying with a vast sum of money left to persons whom perhaps never showed the least friendship during their lives.”
Mr. Butterworth describes his monument which at that time, 1827, was in Glossop Parish Church:-
In the Church is a very ancient monument, similar to that of Sir Richard de Staveley and wife, in Mottram Church and a modern one of the late Joseph Haigh of Park Hall.
This is a fine marble bust by Bacon, and cost 400 guineas. The following inscription is under the bust on a tablet of marble:
“Sacred to the memory of Joseph Haigh Esq., Whose virtues as a man were distinguished as a merchant: Favoured with the blessing of providence. He enjoyed the fruits of his industry at an early period, And by the most indefatigable pursuits of trade, Acquired an immense fortune, Which he distributed with great liberality Amongst his relations in his lifetime: He was born at Chunal in the year 1695, And in 1716 settled in London, where he married Jane, the only daughter of of Edmund Blagge, of Macclesfield , in Cheshire, By whom he had ten sons and two daughters, Who all died in their minority; He built and endowed the Charity School at Whitfield, 1778, and died at Park Hall, in this parish, the 12th March, 17986, Aged 90 years; Leaving the annual interest of £1,000 towards the clothing of twelve poor men and twelve poor women out of the ten townships of Glossop-dale for ever. Besides other Charitable donations to Glossop and the Chapelry of Hayfield.”

During some alterations to the church this monument had to be taken down, and the Churchwardens placed it in the old Town Hall and Lock-ups opposite the Queen's Arms. Whilst it was there a man called Jim Marsden was found drunk and incapable, the Constable took him up and placed him in the lock-ups. After a time he somewhat recovered himself and began smashing the monument. Some lads heard the noise and ran to the Churchwardens shouting “Jim Marsden's breaking out of prison.” The Churchwardens went immediately, but too late. The monument was repaired and erected in Hayfield Church. In 1874 the Trustees of Hague's School erected a tombstone over his grave in the Parish Churchyard. The inscription is :-
“To the memory of / Joseph Hague, Esq., of Park Hall, / Who departed this life March 12th 1786, / Aged 90 years, / Leaving many charitable bequests to the poor / in the several Townships of Glossop and / Hayfield. / Also of Jane his wife, / Who was interred August 22nd, 1758, / And of Jane their daughter, / Aged 11 years. / Blessed is he that considereth the poor. / John Hague Esq., of Park Hall, died 6th January, 1782, aged 73. / Dorothy his wife, 17th February, 1795, aged 63, / Entwistle Hague esq., 7th May, 1825, aged 52.”

Seventy years ago the assessment of the Hamlet of Chunal was £377 14s 4d. there being 24 assessments. The farmers were; Robert Robinson, 115 acres; Thomas Nield, 68 acres; John Hadfield 48 acres; Betty Nield, Monks Farm, 46 acres; Joseph Robinson, 33 acres; Thomas Bramhall, 30 acres; Joseph Bennett, 7 acres; and Samuel Pickford, 5 acres. The Gnat Hole Mill was assessed at £45.

1. The late Neville Sharpe, in transcribing these notes, commented that “Mr Hamnett is definitely wide of the mark here. The Abbot's Chair is the base of an old wayside cross which incidentally stands at exactly the point where the Roman Road from Edrotalia to Buxton made an angular change of direction. This suggests that the Roman road remained in use well into the Middle Ages. The reason it resembles a chair is because of the way it was broken when the cross shaft was overthrown. There are plenty of other examples around. The Hollingworth cross base on the opposite side of the road is something of a puzzle. It could be the base of the Charlesworth cross which was moved to its present position long ago as a boundary marker, but one is left wondering why the boundary between the townships of Chunal and Hayfield had an odd kink in it. I don't know who dreamed up stories of the Abbot of Basingwerk collecting rents as he sat in the chair.”

2. The Robinsons certainly had relatives at Saddleworth but John Robinson's parents, George Robinson and Mary Harrop, married at Glossop Parish Church on 16 April 1732 and John was baptised there on 4 March 1733. John, though, did learn the woollen trade with his relatives at Saddleworth. He also married there, on 28 October 1754, to Zipporah Bowden of Glossop and their first four children were born at Saddleworth before they moved back to Jumble about 1765.

3. Mr Hamnett was wrong in saying that dissensions among the Robinson brothers led to the business gradually declining. The mill passed down the family but Frederick and Henry, great grandsons of John, did not wish to run a woollen mill so emigrated to Tasmania. It was Henry who died and, rather ironically, Frederick ended up managing Waverley Woolen Mills.

Return to the Local History Main Menu, Return to The Townships of Glossop Dale menu, Return to the Home Page.




Page last updated: 15 December 2018.
Copyright © 2018 Glossop Heritage Trust. All Rights Reserved.