Heaton, an Old English name meaning high settlement, was formerly a township in Leek parish, and later became a civil parish. The hamlet of Heaton is at its centre where a road from Rushton Spencer crossed a road which ran north to south between the Dane and the main area of common waste. Swythamley Hall is set in parkland in the northeast corner of the parish which in 1831 covered 80 acres and was stocked with deer.

Swythamley Hall originally a mediaeval hunting lodge belonging to the Abbey of Deulacres, was given to the Trafford family by Henry VIII in 1540. It became their home, and that of their successors the Brocklehurst family. The present hall dates from 1813 when it was rebuilt after a fire in that year. In 1831 the silk manufacturer Sir William Brocklehurst purchased the hall and it was owned by the Brocklehurst family until, in 1977 the estate was broken up by John van Haeften, when it was brought by followers of the Indian mystic, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and for a time used as a centre for transcendental meditation before being turned into eight residential units after its sale in 1987 to Mr R M Naylor.

Swythamley has been convincingly identified as the castle of the Green Knight in the mediaeval poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" and nearby Lud's Church as the Knight's 'Green Chapel'. This probably means that the unknown author was connected with Dieulacres Abbey in someway.

Ranulf de Blundeville, earl of Chester and Lord of Leek, established Dieulacres Abbey in 1214. The origins of Dieulacres lie in the community of Poulton. Poulton Abbey was founded in the name of Ranulf de Gernons, the grandfather of Ranulf de Blundeville. By the fourteenth century, Dieulacres Abbey had become a great landowner, with the abbot retaining bands of armed men. In 1380 a group of such men was indicted for having decapitated John de Warton in Leek at the command of Abbot William.