Discover The Secret

Why not explore Cheadle’s fascinating past by taking a walk along our short Discover the Secret Trail. Here you will be able to explore the High Street, find out why St Giles likes blacksmiths and discover the magnificent "Pugin's Gem", the highlight of this walk.

On the map* below of the "Discover the Secret Trail", you will see the 5 stopping points. At each point you will find an Interpretation Trail Information Panel, similar to the one displayed. These panels are designed to be informative as well as highlight historic aspects that are a must view on your walk. The trail starts with the first panel at the top of the short stay car park located in the centre of the town. The trail leads you along the high street, on to St Giles the Abbot Church at the edge of town, and finally to the spires of Pugin’s Gem, St Giles RC church. The easy walk (with no steep banks) takes approximately 45 minutes and allows ample opportunity to sit and relax or call into one of the many coffee shops. The trail ends back in the car park with the final panel located in a seated area next to the Millennium globe.

Enjoy discovering the secret that is Cheadle!
  • Distance Instructions
  • Distance 703 m
  • Duration 45 min
  • AVG speed 0 km/h
  • Min altitude 169 m
  • Peak 180 m
  • Climb 7 m
  • Descent 12 m

1. Welcome to Cheadle

Discover the Secret!

The town of Cheadle dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, and was first mentioned as a trading settlement in the Doomsday Book in 1086. Cheadle began as a small farming community; however, over time the population increased and the town grew.

By the Victorian era coal mining and the establishment of brass and copper industries to the west and north of Cheadle led to a massive growth in the town. Later, as metal industries declined, textile manufacturing became a thriving business and the building of workers’ housing led to even further growth. Today the industry and hustle and bustle of Victorian enterprise has all but disappeared from Cheadle – what remains is picturesque market town surrounded by glorious countryside with a rich history for you to discover!

Discover the Secret Trail

Why not explore Cheadle’s’ fascinating past by taking a walk along out short Discover the Secret Trail, where you will be able to explore the High Street, find out why St Giles likes blacksmiths and discover the magnificent ‘Pugin’s Gem’, the highlight of this walk.


2. A scene from the past!

A scene from the past

Can you imagine Cheadle High Street in Victorian Times? A crowded, muddy road with smartly dressed gentlemen and ladies in bright billowing dresses; scruffy urchins up to mischief and the noise of traders haggling in the market.
A lot has changed over the last 150 years! Even so, a Victorian would still recognise Cheadle today as most of the buildings that were here then, still exist now, with the find traditional shop fronts and historic features. Of particular interest are the two St Giles’ churches. However, there is so much more to discover in the historic High Street…

The Market Square

Traders have been selling goods and produce in the market square for over 750 years! In 1250 King Henry III granted Ralph Basset a charter to establish a market in Cheadle, which continues to this day.
In 1899 two open fronted iron stalls to either side of the market place were bought together to for the indoor market.
Both the indoor market and the find row of Georgian houses behind the market square have recently undergone major restoration. Behind you stands Lulworth House. This grand looking building was built in 1867 as a house for a wealthy doctor and his family and was later converted to a Police Station.

Market Cross that isn’t a cross!

Just along the High Street stands the “Market Cross” which dates from the 17th century. You will notice it is rather lass of a cross and more an obelisk having lost its upper section probably in the 1600’s!
Market crosses are a common feature of English market towns and come in all shapes and sizes, however they all server the same purpose; to give a Christian presence to the market place and encourage honest trading!
As you walk along the High Street to the next panel, take time to stop at the Market Cross and see the wonderful view of Pugin’s St Giles’ Church, which is the 4th stop of this trail.


3. St Giles the Abbot

St Giles the Abbot

There has been a church on this site since the 12th-century. In 1350 a new church was built replacing the existing structure. This church remained in use until 1837 when it was rebuilt for the third time to the design of J. P. Pritchett but incorporated fragments and furniture from the earlier church.
The architecture of St Giles the Abbot is called “perpendicular” which is a simple, elegant and slightly austere design typical of many Anglican churches built in Victorian times. Compare this to Pugin’s Gem, a Gothic revival church built with no expense spared, which you will see at the next stop of this trail.

Praying on the hoof!

Coincidently, both of Cheadle’s churches are dedicated to St Giles! This church is Anglican, whilst the other is Roman Catholic and built by Augustus Pugin.
St. Giles is the patron saint of blacksmiths and traditionally churches dedicated to St. Giles are built at road junctions, which enabled travellers to visit the church whilst their horses were being shod at the nearby smithies.

Just Look Around!

Behind you stands the Tudor House. This beautiful black and white timbered building was built in 1558 and thought to be the oldest building in the High Street.
A little further along the road stands the Bourne Fountain erected in 1879 by a Miss Bourne in memory of her parents.
Originally the fountain had cups for people to drink from and a water trough for horses.
Across the road from the fountain is The Manor Hotel, which was built in 1758 and served as the rectory to the Anglican Church.


4. Pugin’s Gem

Pugin’s Gem
In 1840, the celebrated architect Augustus Pugin was commissioned by John Talkbot, the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury and Lord of the Manor at Alton Towers (now one of the country’s most famous theme parks!) to design and build a Roman Catholic church “that would have no rival”.

To achieve this, the Earl placed unlimited means at Pugin’s disposal. Known today as “Pugin’s Gem”, St Giles’ Roman Catholic Church is Pugin’s tribute to inner peace and serenity and a design wonder of the Gothic Revival. The Church was opened and consecrated in 1846 and remains one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival church architecture in the world today!

Inspiring design!

Gothic is a style of architecture, which flourished throughout Europe during the middle and late medieval period. Many of Europe’s most famous cathedrals, abbeys and churches were built in this lavish and ornate style. However, it went out of fashion until it was reinvented in the mid-18th century during the “Gothic Revival”. As you look around the church and early gothic buildings like Salisbury Cathedral built in 1220. Most notable features are the varying roof levels, which delineate different parts of the building, the Gothic arches, impressive spires and the ornately carved stonework.
Next to the church are two other buildings designed and build by Pugin; The Convent of St Joseph’s, which is now a private house, and St Giles’ School.
As you explore the church you will notice a large number of heraldic designs such as the Earl of Shrewsbury’s “Rampant Lions” on the main door and the Talbot hound in the vaulting of the South Porch – a constant reminder of who paid for the church to be built!

Pugin – God’s architect

Leading the Gothic Revival was Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Pugin was born in 1812, the son of a French draughtsman who had fled the horror of the bloody French Revolution. Trained by his father, the gifted Pugin quickly became a highly influential architect, designer and leading advocate of Gothic Architecture which he believed to be the true Christian form of design.


5. Cheadle and Beyond!

Cheadle and Beyond!

Located 11 miles east of historic Stoke-on-Trent and 8 miles from the ancient market town of Leek, Cheadle makes a good base for exploring the local area. Surrounded on all sides by the glorious English countryside, Cheadle is a gateway into the Staffordshire Moorlands which holds a wealth of historic, cultural and natural attractions.

Peak District National Park

Cheadle lies on the edge of the Peak District National Park. This was established in 1951 as Britain’s first national park and today attracts visitors from all over the world who come to find peace, tranquillity and adventure. The National Park has a wealth of unique natural habitats and historic sites to be explored and offers a wide range of activities from rock climbing and caving to walking and cycling for the more adventurous to experience.

Exploring the Churnet Valley

The Churnet Valley is on Cheadle’s doorstep and really worth a visit. The Valley has a number of very special nature reserves to explore and some fantastic cultural and historic sites to discover.

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