Cotebrook – A History


Most villages in England have great difficulty in pinpointing their origins but, in one sense, this is not a problem for Cotebrook, as records show it was so named in 1875 when St John’s church was built. The name derives from the small brook running near to the Alvanley Arms where sheep were “coted” (or penned) prior to being washed. However, the settlement itself is far older and up until this time was known as Utkinton-cum-Rushton. This was an accurate description of Cotebrook’s position, lying midway between those other two localities to its west and east. Nowadays, however, the main thoroughfare (the A49) runs from Tarporley in the south and northwards to Warrington.

Change, however, is nothing new to this village, and has been a common theme throughout its lifetime. It was called Cote-Brook (sic), in 1875 and had many more cottages than exist today. Maybe that’s one reason why it can boast two excellent public houses. These are (in alphabetical order) the Alvanley Arms and the Fox & Barrel. The former can trace its history back to the 16th century and local legend has it that the F & B was named after a fox which hid in a barrel to escape the hunt. Truth or myth; you decide.

Cotebrook once had its own state school. Sadly that closed in 1955, but there is some compensation in the fact that it still has a Village Hall, built in 1938, which is home to various clubs and activities and also houses a fine collection of old photographs of by-gone days in the locality.

If you ask a local, today, where the races are, they will point you in the direction of the nationally renowned Oulton Park Motor Racing circuit in nearby Little Budworth. But 150 years ago the visitor would have received a different answer as Cotebrook, for most of the 19th century, was host to the famous Tarporley Horse Races. The outline of the course can still be seen on maps, and local road names such as Stable Lane; Sadlers Lane; and Racecourse Lane, pay homage to the excitement of the past. And our equine friends still play a large part in the current life of the village, since the opening of the multi-award winning Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre, on the A49.

Cotebrook is proud of its historical association with famous designers. Charles E. Kempe (1837 – 1907), a celebrated Victorian stained glass window manufacturer, applied his art in the building of St Johns, and John Douglas (1830 – 1911), described as “the best Cheshire Architect” by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner in his seminal guide, The Buildings of England, designed the Old Parsonage which stands across the road from the church.

However, whilst Kempe and Douglas helped to put Cotebrook on the map, metaphorically, it is the BBC North West Tonight team who have literally done that job. If you watch the nightly weather forecast after the regional news bulletin, at about 10.25pm, the weather map always features a couple of lesser known locations alongside the big guns of Liverpool and Manchester. And guess what – Cotebrook is one of them. It isn’t there every night, but if you tune in for a week, you will have a good chance of seeing it, and it’s a great way of ending the day with a little feeling of pride.”