There was once an old lake in Manchester, extending from the lower level of Market Street to Back Pool Fold. It is said that here scolds and disorderly women were subjected to the ducking stool. Cross Street Chapel was once perjoratively known as St Plung’ems for that reason. Pool Fold became Cross Street changing to the current name when the road was widened. Radcliffe Hall, or Pool Fold stood on the present site of Boots the Chemist on Market Street.
In the late 16th century the hall was occupied by William Radcliffe and during his tenure, possibly because of damp and flooded cellars, the pool was drained, and the ducking stool removed elsewhere, most likely to the Daub Holes at Piccadilly.
At the time of the map, the hall was occupied by Captain John Radclyffe (1602-1645), his wife Ann (d 1646), and their children William (1620- June 1645) Mary, Alexander, Anne, Elizabeth, Margaret (all died June / July 1645 in the plague) and Sarah.
John was the nephew of Sir Alexander Radcliffe of Ordsall Hall in Salford. He was baptised at the Collegiate Church around 1604 and in 1634 was elected one of two constables for Manchester, becoming a boroughreeve in 1637.
The house was moated, and a drawbridge gave access to the main entrance which faced Chapel Walks, and was flanked on two sides by a large garden. The house was built of timber and plaster with huge stone chimneys.
Captain Radclyffe commanded the troops protecting Manchester in 1642. On hearing the beating of a drum, he went to the end of town, and declared to his men that they would protect the town, liberty and property to the utmost hazard of their lives. As the Royal troops approached Manchester, there was an attempt at negotiation, but this failed, and Salford came out for the King and his men. On Monday September 26th, the King’s forces were stationed on Salford Bridge and a battle started on Deansgate, several houses and barns were burned down, the town would probably have been reduced to ashes, had not the wind changed. The troops at Salford kept up their attack on the town, the defenders claimed that not one Parliamentarian lost his life.
The following day, there were further assaults on the town, but the Captain managed to repulse these, taking many prisoners, and slaying even more. Nevertheless there was a standoff and the King demanded that the townsmen lay down all their arms to him. This they refused and eventually the attackers abandoned the siege on 1 October. This greatly bolstered the Parliamentary cause. The eventual upshot was that on the Royalist victory Manchester was disenfranchised from 1660 until 1832, and had no representation at Westminster.
John also died of the plague in June 1645. With the infection all around him, he had forced to read out his will from one side of the pool a fortnight before he passed away, his witnesses standing on the opposite shore. He left half his lands to his son and heir apparent, Alexander, the remainder to be shared amongst his girls. Ann, his wife had a life interest in the property.
In the event, only Sarah survived to inherit the entire estate, and she married John Alexander, a Manchester silversmith. They had one son, Radcliffe Alexander who died at Pool Fold in 1701.
The last MP to sit for Manchester before disenfrachisement was Richard Radclyffe (d 1660). He was MP for Manchester between 1656 and 1660 and he also lived at Pool Hall.
After Radcliffe Alexander’s death, the house was purchased by Joshua Brown and around 1760 it was occupied by a Mrs Patten. In 1780 James Smith obtained a license to convert part of it to a public house, and it then became the Sun Tavern, serving the market. The other half also became an Inn, The Kings Arms, which was owned by Sir Oswald Mosley, and leased by Thomas Robinson.
Thomas Robinson demolished the site around 1811, and built cotton warehouses, the structure being called New Market Buildings.
Let’s see a picture:
The Peoples’ History of Manchester, John Reilly 1859
Court Leet Records Manchester 1586-1602: Chetham Society, 1865.
The History of the Siege of Manchester, John Palmer: John Leigh, 1822
Avenge, Roy Westall : Author House, 2014
© Allan Russell 2021.