The grounds are pretty; the ornate stone gates, lodge and chapel are all listed, and there are many veterans of World Wars I and II buried or interred here, including Victoria Cross recipient George Harold Eardley. But the main attraction for visitors is the grave of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis, located on the walkway next to the trees a short distance from the crematorium and car park. It's very simple, marked with his name, date of death and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', the single that became a hit after his suicide. There's often memorabilia left there, but not so much that it detracts from the experience of contemplating his final resting place whilst listening to 'The Eternal' or another of Joy Division's darker songs.
The best-known shopping destination in Macclesfield is this furniture maker's store, started by two Italian immigrants in the mid-19th century. Even if you're not in the market, consider going by just to check out the store itself, a listed building with a cast-iron and glass front inspired by London's Crystal Palace.
Its dark stone tower visible from much of the town, and looming over the rail station car park, St Michael's is the building most identified with Macclesfield. A grade II* listed building, the current edifice, built in the 1740s on the site of a 13th-century church, features two late medieval chapels.
A warm and welcoming pub with drinks at decent prices (cheaper than the other pubs in Macclesfield but have a much wider range of drinks). Live bands play nearly every weekend and the music ranges from Indie to Metal to Tribute bands.
Small restaurant serving traditional British cuisine for lunch and dinner on Macclesfield's major shopping street
Traditional 1830s pub with jazz and blues music, fire downstairs; plasma and Space Invaders upstairs
The city's oldest pub serves a menu with many burger, steak and curry options plus desert
Macclesfield Town play in the Conference National, the fifth tier of English football.
Stairs between the green and the town centre that are a beloved local landmark
Local bakery with many sweet and cakes in centre of town is a popular tea spot
Macclesfield branch of the budget hotel chain. Opposite the train station.
Macclesfield's most prominent Indian restaurant, with take-away available
Decadent 18th Century country house, 6 miles north-west of the town.
Coffeehouse, opened 2013, serving breakfast sandwiches and lunch
Small restaurant emulating Venetian atmosphere and cuisine
Small but well-regarded Thai place in south town centre
B&B style guesthouse close to the town centre.
Budget chain hotel on the outskirts of town.
Macclesfield is located where the Cheshire plain gives way to the Peak District. It was first recorded as existing under the name "Maclesfeld" in the Domesday Book of 1086. Its name is probably from a local landowner of the time. Two centuries later it was granted a charter. The Church of All Saints was built shortly afterwards, where St Michael's Church now stands in the centre of town.
The Earls of Chester established the nearby Forest of Macclesfield, much larger than its present-day counterpart, as their private hunting preserve. Most of it was cut down after population increased in the mid-14th century. Throughout the Middle Ages it was fortified. The names of streets such as Chestergate and Jordangate reflect the portals they led to in the now-vanished walls.
Those walls were severely damaged during the Civil War, when Cromwell's forces bombarded the Royalist forces of Sir Thomas Aston, who had taken shelter behind them. After the war the victorious Cromwell ordered what was left torn down. But rebellion was not done with Macclesfield. A century later, during the Jacobite Uprising, Bonnie Prince Charlie marched through on his effort to reach London.
Later in the 18th century Macclesfield, like much of that region of the country, began developing as a center for textile manufacture. By the 1830s it was the world's biggest producer of finished silks; some of the 71 mills that were in operation are scattered around today's Macclesfield. Fashions changed, however, increasingly preferring French silk and the cottons coming out of Manchester to the north, and many of those mills closed down. So little industry was left in town that it was the only English mill town not bombed by the Germans during World War II.
Macclesfield regained some measure of international fame in the late 20th century as the home of members of the late 1970s rock band Joy Division, which evolved into popular 1980s dance band New Order after lead singer Ian Curtis hung himself in his Barton Street home in 1980. Fans of Joy Division come to Macclesfield from all over the world, especially every 18 May, the anniversary of his death, to pay their respects at his grave marker in Macclesfield Cemetery. In 2007 Control, a film about Curtis's life and death based on his widow's memoirs, was filmed using many of the same Macclesfield locations that had figured in his life.
This association with the depressing songs of a suicidal musician has not been the only thing Macclesfield has had to live down. In 2004 The Times called the town England's least cultured, due to its lack of theatres and other cultural institutions. That led the town to establish the Barnaby Festival in 2010, a modern take on ancient customs of celebrating St Barnabas's Day. The performance-centred Winterfest in November and December has brought even more people to downtown Macclesfield.
So, if you come listening to Joy Division on your headphones and expect a correspondingly grim Northern town to match, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Pay your respects to Ian, of course, but if you take the time to see more of Macclesfield you'll probably understand why it's a popular home for many top earners in Liverpool and Manchester.