The area now known as Prestbury has been settled for over a millennium.
The remains of a Saxon cross (now in a case in St. Peter’s Churchyard) and a Saxon burial site that was disturbed in the fields behind the Butley Ash public house to the west of London Road have rendered proof that the area was inhabited some 10 centuries ago. At the time the Bollin River was called the Jordan and the settlement to the west of the river was called Preosta burgh – which literally translates from Anglo Saxon into ‘dwelling of the priests’. Whether it was because that was all that existed at the time or whether the area had been sacked is not known but, interestingly, it is not recorded in the Domesday Book. However, it definitely existed before then. Two Saxon churches are thought to have sat on the site of the present Parish Church and one of the oldest remaining buildings in the parish is the 11th century Norman Chapel in the churchyard.
Whereas Prestbury did not appear in Domesday, Butley – on the east side of the river – did. It had its own manor in the area where Butley Hall (now divided into flats) stands today, on the corner of Scott Road and the exit road from the Springfields car park. ‘Butley’ is now one of the Parish Council wards.
For the best part of five centuries from the 15 century the wider area around Prestbury and Adlington came under the patronage of the Legh family of Adlington Hall who, in the 17th century, also took over the manorial area of Butley. To this day the Legh family hold the titles of ‘Lay Rector’ and ‘Patron of the Parish’.
The original ‘Parish of Prestbury’ was very large indeed – over 20 miles from north to south and averaging 10 miles wide. At the time of the Norman conquests it included 36 townships, including Macclesfield. The ecclesiastical Parish of Prestbury is still large.
Parts of the present Parish Church which dominates the village centre date back to the 13th century and many of the listed buildings on and around the main street date from the 15th and 16th centuries. Most noticeable of these is the ‘Priests’ House’, the black and white timber-framed building (dated 1448) that faces the church. This Grade Two * building is now a NatWest Bank. The Parish Council Chamber is housed upstairs in another of the listed buildings in the village centre, the Old School House, which displays on its exterior wall many of the Best Kept Village plaques that Prestbury has won over the years.
Some of the old terraced buildings on the main street were used as weavers’ cottages during the late 18th and 19th centuries. At that time Macclesfield had an international reputation for producing silk cloth and small scale silk production spread to Prestbury. Throughout the latter part of the 20th century the parish was required to accept significant housing development but most of this was built outside the village centre which was granted Conservation Area status in 1972 to help protect it. At the same time, an area of Butley Town to the east of London Road in the parish was also granted Conservation Area status.
The Parish Council and residents are acutely aware of the special historic features of the village and its landscape setting and together they worked on a Village Design Statement (an adopted version was published in June 2007 and an unabridged version in January 2008) and also on a Parish Plan which was produced in 2009 and a Supplementary Planning Document that followed on from the Plan for Prestbury which was adopted in 2011.
The Priest’s House