Knutsford is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and although there are many different suggestions as to the town's name, King Canute (Knútr in the old Norse language) features quite strongly.

Knutsford has a long and interesting history; only some of it can be fitted here but will be in later editions.

At least in Britain, one unusual tradition is to 'sand the streets' in intricate patterns for weddings and other functions.

When Canute, after fording (Knútr ford?), the river shook the sand from his shoes in the path of a wedding party, sanding is now carried out during weddings and the Knutsford May Day.

Or, I should say, the Royal Knutsford May Day, as it is allowed to use the name Royal in its title.

 This honour was bestowed on the event by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1887. This procession led to Knutsford Heath, which once boasted Knutsford Race Course.

Northwich Guardian: The Knutsford Crown Court buildingThe Knutsford Crown Court building (Image: Paul Hurley)

Famous Knutsfordians have included authoress Mrs Gaskell, the street where she lived has been renamed in her honour.

Then further down lived Highwayman Higgins, a gentleman by day and thief by night.

Also, the large Knutsford Prison, which the still extant Sessions House, later Crown Court fronted, could be found in the town, both built from 1817 to 1818.

The prison existed through the very draconian sentencing that prevailed in the 1800s; transportation to the colonies for six years for a minor theft was not unusual.

Cheshire's main prison during Victorian times was Knutsford Prison.

It was a large custom-built prison in the centre of the town, then known as Nether Knutsford; it was opened in 1818.

Northwich Guardian: Knutsford PrisonKnutsford Prison (Image: Remembering Knutsford)

The building included a Sessions House, Grand Jury Room, and House of Correction.

Severe punishments open to the courts at that time included hanging and hanging, drawing, and quartering.

This was the practice carried out in public and was treated as something akin to a social gathering with stalls and food sellers, and it was a festive occasion.

It was, however, stopped in 1868 with the Capital Punishment Amendment Act.

The last person to be hanged in public was an Irish Republican, Michael Barret, in December 1867, who was hanged at Newgate Gaol in Chester.

After this, hangings took place within the confines of the prison. Chester Gaol closed in 1884 and the prisoners transferred to Knutsford.

Northwich Guardian: Knutsford PrisonKnutsford Prison (Image: Remembering Knutsford)

Eventually, there was accommodation for up to 700 inmates. The buildings were demolished in 1934, albeit the Session House later became Knutsford Crown Court and is now an upmarket restaurant.

Let's have a peep at Knutsford Prison from our book Murders and Misdemeanors in Cheshire, which will be out early next year, published by Amberley.

Up to 1801, all executions took place at Gallows Hill in Boughton; this hill is still there but is called Barrel Well Hill.

Northwich Guardian: Inside Knutsford PrisonInside Knutsford Prison (Image: Remembering Knutsford)

Thompson Morgan and Clare were the last felons to be hanged there, who were 'Turned Off' for forgery.

After that date, prisoners were sent to Northgate Gaol to be hanged. Later, the City gaol took on the onerous task of carrying out the death sentence. Public executions were stopped in 1868.

Before that, in 1866, the duties of the County Goal were transferred to Knutsford Prison, where the death sentence was carried out until 1912.

The first person to be hanged at Knutsford Prison was Owen McGill, an Irish Farm Labourer who, on October 31, 1885, transported a cart of corn from Lincarton to Birkenhead, and his wife travelled with him.

On arrival, his wife stopped him from fighting with another farm labourer, and he was later seen standing over his wife with a knife.

She was later found dead, apparently after a vicious beating. His explanation that she had fallen from the cart was not believed, and he was found guilty of murder.

Northwich Guardian: Knutsford PrisonKnutsford Prison (Image: Remembering Knutsford)

Lord Chief Justice Coleridge sentenced him to death on February 3, 1886. He was hanged at Knutsford Prison on the 22nd of that month

The last person to be executed at Knutsford was 38 years old John Williams, who murdered his estranged wife, Hilda, in Birkenhead.

Her body was recovered from a narrow passageway called Price's Lane, and her throat had been slashed.

On December 10, 1911, Williams was arrested and charged with murder. He appeared at Chester Assize Court on February 28, 1912.

The jury rejected his claim of insanity, and he was hanged at Knutsford Prison on Tuesday, March 19, 1912 and was buried within the prison grounds.

In 1914 Knutsford Prison was taken over by the military, and the death penalty was transferred elsewhere to Walton and Strangeways prisons.

In all, eight men were executed at Knutsford Prison and buried within the walls. The bodies were exhumed and re-interred at Strangeways prison on November 23, 1928. Knutsford prison was demolished in 1934.

Many thanks to the FB Group Remembering Knutsford for allowing me to use a few of the images on the group.