Bradshaw House, Congleton

Bradshaw House as you see it now on Lawton Street, Congleton, was built in 1820 and is a grade II listed Georgian-fronted property.

The name, however, derives from an occupant of a previous house on the site which it replaced.  This original building, then known as Cole Hill House, was a timber framed building which either housed the attorney’s office where the regicide John Bradshaw served his articles or is where he lived.  Bradshaw moved to London to study English law and was called to the bar at Gray’s Inn on 23 April 1627.  He was Congleton Mayor in 1637-38 and High Steward in 1655. John Milton said that “All his early life he was sedulously employed in making himself acquainted with the laws of the country; he then practised with singular success and reputation at the bar.”

Judge John Bradshaw (born 12 July 1602) was an ardent supporter of Parliament both during and after the Civil War, being President of the High Court of Justice for the trial of King Charles I.  He declared Charles I guilty as a “Tyrant, Traitor, Murderer, and a public enemy”.  It is said that he dined at Odstone Hall in Leicestershire, then his property, after signing the warrant for the King’s execution in 1649.

” England’s great Monarch once bare-headed sat,

Whilst Bradshaw bullied in a broad-brim’d hat.”

He was also the first Lord President of the Council of State of the English Commonwealth and on 12 March 1649 Bradshaw was elected President of the Council of State, which was to act as the Executive of the country’s government in place of the King and the Privy Council.

John Bradshaw died on 31 October 1659 aged 57, it is thought of malaria and was buried with great honours at Westminster Abbey.  On his deathbed Bradshaw said that if called upon to try the King again he would be “the first man in England to do it”. 

In 1638 he had married Mary, who was daughter of Thomas Marbury, the Marbury family being the major landowners in Marbury, which is some 7 miles south west of Nantwich.  When Mary died in 1658 she also was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Charles II returned to power in 1660 and on 30 January 1661, the twelfth anniversary of the regicide, the bodies of Bradshaw, Cromwell and Henry Ireton were ordered to be exhumed and publicly hung in chains all day on the gallows at Tyburn. At sunset, the three bodies were all officially executed by beheading. The bodies were then thrown into a common pit and the heads displayed on pikes at Westminster Hall.  Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that he saw the heads there on 5 February. The body of Bradshaw’s wife was also exhumed from Westminster Abbey and, along with the remains of other Parliamentarians buried at Westminster, reburied in a common pit at St Margaret’s, Westminster.

Further information on John Bradshaw, perhaps Congleton’s most famous citizen, can be found at Ye Olde White Lion at No 7 of the Heritage Trail or you can visit the Congleton Museum, which is situated behind the Town Hall.

The current Bradshaw House is being converted into 6 supported-living one bedroomed flats by Kingsgate Developments working in partnership with Radis Community Care.

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