Mobberley is one of England’s oldest parishes. It appears in the Domesday Book, under its Saxon name of Motburlege (village or town meeting place in the open country), as held by Bigot of Loges from Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester. Despite almost two hundred acres paying tax, Domesday records Motburlege as “found waste”. Woodland was the most prominent feature over 9 square miles and this extensive area carries down to the present day, when Mobberley is, reputedly, still the second largest Parish in England.Population: 2,697 (1991).(2001 available ??date . wm)
The Parish Church is dedicated to St. Wilfrid and St. Mary and, although not mentioned in the Domesday, it is known that in 1206 a Priory was constructed adjacent to the present church site. This does not appear to have been long-lived and about 1245 the present church was built and, on the Priory site, the Manor House was constructed.
The Church has been modified over the centuries but has never lost its medieval character. The old churchyard, resting place of generations of Mobberley families, contains many ancient gravestones with their inscriptions a pithy reflection on those who lie within it:
“Under this clod of earth there lies a happy man,
I spake it large disprove me if you can,
He has gone to Heaven, his soul has took flight,
If you would know his name, its honest Thomas Wright. Aged 67. 1752.”
Mobberley, and its church, were long synonymous with the Mallory Family. In 1619 Thomas Mallory, Dean of Chester, boughtthe patronage of the Parish Church and in 1625 took up residence in the Manor House. Five Mallorys followed him as Rector, the last being Herbert Leigh-Mallory, father of George Mallory, who died on Everest. Although the Mallorys moved from Mobberley they retained patronage of the church until the death of Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, in 1944.
Mobberley, however, has never been singular in its religious observance. The Methodist church stands evidence of the strongnon-conformist streak of Mobberley folk, evident as far back as the post-reformation period. Quakers (with their own burialground, still identifiable in Graveyard Lane), the Congregationalists and Unitarians all followed their faith, sometimesunhindered, sometimes persecuted.
The Manor House that has survived the wear and tear of the centuries failed to survive its use by British and American troops inthe Second World War; semi-derelict, it was demolished in the 1950s.
Mobberley has been fortunate in that its long history has been largely peaceful. Its agricultural community, spread widely acrossits rolling acres, is still reflected in the individual farmhouses and small hamlets around Church Lane, Paddock Hill, Knolls Greenand Pepper Street, each fortified by its own public house. The old village centre, by-passed in the 1930s lies just below the OldHall along Mill Lane: as befits its ancient status, it boasts two pubs.
Mobberley’s first major brush with the industrial age was in 1862 with the opening of the station serving the Manchester toChester railway. More than a little remote, even then, for Mobberley folk, it was hardly surprising that, here also, a public houseopened - no doubt to serve the tired and weary travellers!
The building, in 1901, of the Rajar works that was to become the Iflord factory, was Mobberley’s first, and last, major industrial development( ? Crepe Mill- WM). It initiated sporadic housing development around Town Lane which continued to the 1980s. This is now established as the major population centre of Mobberley, a parish with a population that has grown from around 2000 to 3000 over the last 100 years.
Although its history has been peaceful, Mobberley has not been untouched by the outside world. Many of its sons marched away to the wars of old England: many failed to return. The carnage of the Great War took its toll on Mobberley, as on the villages, towns and cities of the whole country. The war memorial, outside the Parish Church, honours those who died: the distinctive black and white Victory Hall commemorates those who served and provides a focus and centre for village activities.
The twentieth century wrought many changes to Mobberley - agriculture lost its pre-eminence, and the aeroplane cast a
literal and metaphorical shadow across the parish. Mobberley, however, has evolved with the changes of the second
millennium: there is no reason to fear that it will fail before the challenges of the third.
For those wishing to know more of the history of Mobberley, the following publications will be of interest:
A History of Mobberley Village, published in 1952 by the Womens’ Institute. (? availability-WM)
Mobberley Records by Stephen Murray - published in 1948, this hand-written volume is available only at Altrincham Library.