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A handsome market town at the southern most tip of the county. It ‘s centre now is the late 17th century market square that rose around the chapel of the Hospital of St John & St James (now St Johns Church) which had been founded c.1150. The town was granted a charter in 1260 but the buildings of that period and later perished in the fire of 1649. Thereafter, under the patronage of the Egerton family (Earls of Ellesmere and Dukes of Bridgwater) it began to flourish once more. The handsome Town Hall in the centre of the square was commissioned by them in 1704 - 7. This is the finest early 18th century civic building in the county. There are a number of other buildings of note here including 18th century town houses and the very unusual, in this part of the world, timber framed and white painted buildings such as Church School House and the Banbury Road corner buildings. These were built for Lord Ellesmere in the late 19th century and reflect the family’s land holdings in Cheshire. Indeed they were designed by a Chester architect Charles Bather. The market square has a good range of shops (including the excellent Old Hall Book shop), cafés and a hotel The Crown, which sports a handsome Regency front. To the north you can still see the remnants of the Old Town centred around the parish church of St Peters at the end of Church Road. This runs off the High Street where you will notice the Alms Houses of 1633 founded by Sir Thomas Crewe who lived at nearby Steane. The town is famous for it’s schools notably Winchester House also in the High Street, which occupies the former seat of the Earls of Ellesmere, and Magdalen College School that was built on the foundations of the medieval hospital referred to above. It’s name Magdalen because the hospital had been acquired by William of Waynflete in 1484 and given to him to his Oxford foundation, Magdalen College. The town is subject to an enormous but well handled growth to the north and west where you will find good sporting facilities.

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NN13 7DS

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