Macclesfield is a market town within the borough of Cheshire East, and the county of Cheshire, England. The population of the Macclesfield urban sub-area at the time of the 2011 census was 51,739. A person from Macclesfield is sometimes referred to as a "Maxonian". Macclesfield, like many other areas in Cheshire, is considered to be a relatively affluent town.
Macclesfield was granted a borough charter by Earl Ranulf III of Chester, in the early 13th century, and a second charter was granted by the future King Edward I, in 1261. The parish church of All Saints was built in 1278, an extension of a chapel built in approximately 1220.
The borough had a weekly market and two annual fairs: the Barnaby fair, was on St Barnabas day (11 June), the other on the feast of All Saints (1 November).
Macclesfield was the administrative centre of the Hundred of Macclesfield, which occupied most of east Cheshire. The Earl of Chester's manor of Macclesfield was very large, and its boundary extended to Disley. The manor house was situated on the edge of the deer park, on the west of the town.
The Earls of Chester established the Forest of Macclesfield which was much larger than its present-day namesake. It was used for hunting deer and pasturing sheep and cattle. By the end of the 13th century, large areas of the forest had been ploughed because of the pressure of population growth. In 1356, two trees from the forest were given to archer William Jauderell to repair his home.
Macclesfield Castle was a fortified town house built by the dukes of Buckingham in the later Middle Ages.
Macclesfield was once surrounded by walls and ramparts with three principal gates, the Chester Gate, the Jordan Gate and the Church Wall Gate (some sources give the name Well Gate for this gate). These names are preserved in the names of three streets in the town, Chestergate, Jordangate and Back Wallgate. During the Civil War, in 1642 the town was occupied for the King by Sir Thomas Aston, a Royalist. The walls and castle were damaged when the town was subsequently bombarded and taken by a parliamentarian force under Sir William Brereton. After the war the walls were completely destroyed on the orders of Cromwell and the Council of the Commonwealth.
In the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Charles Stuart and his army marched through Macclesfield as they attempted to reach London. The mayor was forced to welcome the prince, and the event is commemorated in one of the town's silk tapestries.
Macclesfield was once the world's biggest producer of finished silk. There were 71 silk mills operating in 1832. Paradise Mill is a working mill museum which demonstrates the art of silk throwing and Jacquard weaving to the public. The four Macclesfield Silk Museums display a range of information and products from that period.
Macclesfield is the original home of Hovis breadmakers, produced in Publicity Works Mill (commonly referred to as "the Hovis Mill") on the canal close to Buxton Road. It was founded by a Macclesfield businessman and a baker from Stoke-on-Trent. Hovis is said to derive from the Latin "homo-vitalis" (strength for man) as a way of providing a cheap and nutritious food for poor mill workers and was a very dry and dense wholemeal loaf completely different from the modern version.
Between 1826 and 1831 the Macclesfield Canal was constructed, linking Macclesfield to Marple to the north and Kidsgrove to the south. The canal was surveyed for its Act of Parliament by the canal and roads engineer Thomas Telford, and built by William Crossley, the Macclesfield Canal Company's engineer. It was the last narrow canal to be completed and had only limited success because within ten years much of the coal and other potential cargo was increasingly being transported by rail.
Waters Green was once home to a nationally known horse market which features in the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge. Waters Green and an area opposite Arighi Bianchi, now hidden under the Silk Road, also held a sheep and cattle market until the 1980s.