Where not a sound breaks on the balmy breeze
Nor columned smoke beclouds the sky serene
Stands Collyhurst Hall amid the rising trees
From the road side in rural beauty seen
The stately front of aspect fair to view
The winding walk the garden’s rich array
The open lawn the shady avenue
And spreading lake their varied charms display
Oft treads the musing bard its poplar grove
When moonlight o er the vale its softness flings
There walk at eve fond pair discoursing love
While from the boughs the blackbird sweetly sings
Around the mansion while with ruthless spade
Fell Lucre’s slaves the fragrant meads deflow’r
May no rude hand the fair domain invade
Nor spoil the poet’s haunt or lover’s bow’r
The beauteous structure to its owner dear
Long may he here enjoy the calm retreat
Ere heaven shall call him from this cloudy sphere
To share in blissful clime a fairer seatCollyhurst Hall: Charles Kenworthy 1847
Manchester was first built with local red sandstone, as was the second Collyhurst Hall. Most notably, Chetham’s College is built from this stone.
Like Ancoats, Collyhurst was a rural destination in pre industrial days. The area was in medieval times part of the waste of Manchester, and townsmen had rights of pasturage there.
There may have been an earlier, moated, structure on the site, there have been archeological investigations, but no evidence of the hall was found.
In 1580 William West was Lord of Manchester, and he borrowed £3,000 from John Lacy of London. The security on the loan was the manor of Lancaster, and when he was unable to pay it back, he became Lord of the Manor. However, it is thought that he may have been acting on behalf of Nicholas Moseley (1527-1612) who became the ultimate owner in this chain.
The Moseley family have long connections with Manchester. They first came to prominence under Edward IV, with one branch living at Hough End.
Of these, Nicholas and his brother Anthony, of Ancoats Hall traded as clothworkers. Anthony took care of business in Manchester, whilst Nicholas lived in London selling the wares. Nicholas became a member of the Worshipful Company of Clothworkers and married Margaret Whitbroke in 1553. In the late 1560s for around a decade he returned to Manchester, but returned to London,
When he arrived back in London, he became Lord Mayor in 1599. This was during the threat of Spanish invasion. He had the task of raising troops and funds for the defence of London, which he did well, for he was knighted by Elizabeth I the following year.
Meanwhile in 1596, he had come into possession of the Manor of Manchester and after his term as Lord Mayor, he returned home, to build and live at Hough End Hall, where he remained in favour with Royalty, being appointed to pursue those responsible for the Gunpowder Plot, and was appointed High Sherrif of Manchester, the first merchant to hold such a post.
He died in 1612 at Hough End, and was buried at St James’ in Didsbury. By his death he had accumulated vast estates across Manchester. He also dropped the first e from the family name, henceforth being known as Mosley.
He had at least seven sons, and it was his son, Rowland (1560-1616), who built the second Collyhurst Hall, although it appears that another son Edward (1573-1660) may have been the owner. Rowland lived but a short while after the death of his father, and Rowland’s Francis (1586-1662) succeeded him at the Hall.
The location was certainly an ideal one, a contemporary description says that it stood on a knoll above the Irk, a wooded dingle infront and spacious laws behind, it had views down the oak banked Irk almost to Chethams college in Manchester.
During Rowland’s tenure the building of the Hall caused a dispute with the Manchester men who had rights of pasturage over the common, which was only settled when making a payment of £10 p.a. to the poor of Manchester. His brother Francis, along with his son Nicholas (b 1611) like all the Mosley family were Royalists, and suffered during the Civil Wars, having lands sequestered and only restored by the payment of substantial fines.
The estate was bequeathed by Edward Mosley to Nicholas’s daughter, Ann (1631-1710) who married Robert Lever (1623-1710) of Alkrington Hall in Middleton, and from there the Hall came into the possession of the Lever family. Nicholas himself died at Alkrington Hall.
The Lever¹ family had started out as clothmakers in Manchester, and gradually becoming richer they bought up land ousting the local gentry. They eventually settled at Alkrington Hall Robert and his brother John (b 1633) buying it from Thomas Legh of Lyme.
The Hall now passed down through the Lever family, and in 1731 John Byrom visited Robert’s grandson, John there:
September 6th, 1731. Out at Collyhurst . . . Mr. John Lever,
Miss Fanny and Madam supped there. Writ, after, shorthand, and
I with Mr. John about being better acquainted with his brother Power²
and with, &c Walked home between eleven and twelve. Thought
of A. B. , &c.
To gain some idea of how well situated the Hall was, if we return to the Johnson map above, you will notice to the left, Vauxhall Gardens, or Tinker’s Gardens as they were better known, which became the place for the citizens of Manchester to escape the urban sprawl at the beginning of the 19th Century. They could see firework displays, balloon ascents, giant cucumbers and power pedestrians, such as George Wilson.
The gardens, as we shall see, perhaps permit us a glimpse of Collyhurst Hall. However, at the same time as the gardens were built, the Industrial Revolution was encroaching on the area.
After the Levers, the next occupant was John Oldham (c 1728-1802) and his wife, Elizabeth. John was born in Reddish, and lived there towards the end of the 18th century, his family came from Catsknoll in Gorton, which formed part of the Lever Estate. The Oldham family were descended from the Oldhams of Crumpsall but had settled in Reddish and Gorton. They were prominent nonconformists. John’s great uncle, Thomas, had been steward to the Warren family at Poynton Hall, and was fined £20 for allowing a nonconformist minister to preach at his house. In lieu of the money, seven cows were driven away from his farm. Thomas was one of the chief contributers towards the erection of the Episcopal Chapel in Gorton, prior to that services had been held in the upper room of a house, with the ladder being withdrawn during service, to prevent intruders and informers.
The Oldham family were relatively prosperous, and moved to Cats Knoll farm. John’s father, John (d 1785) was the first resident. His sons became calico printers and dyers, at Cats Knoll, Gorton and Cheadle. John however, was appointed steward to the Lever family and moved to Collyhurst Hall.
Around the end of the 18th century the hall was occupied by Charles Rider³ (c1759-c1830). He owned a mine near the Hall, as well as a Silk Mill on Rider’s Lane (it was called that at the time as well as to this day). He married Hannah Norman in 1784 and sat on the Poor Law Committee for Manchester, as well as being involved with the widening of Market Street in Manchester in 1821.
He was also a supporter of the Sunday School Movement, and wrote Selection of Hymn Tunes for the use of the Sunday School in Elm Street, Manchester, where he was treasurer.
Although urbanisation was creeping in, the inaugural train journey on the line from Manchester to Littlebourough on the Leeds and Manchester Railway in 1839, passed the Hall, and gave hope that there were still beautiful views to be seen near the Hall:
After Charles Ryder, the hall may have become a brickyard. Some sources claim it was demolished in 1831, but there is mention of a James Myles at the Hall in 1839 followed the next year by John Stephenson. Mr Stephenson has one million house bricks for sale on his property, suggesting wholesale quarrying of the sandstone deposits.
This is further reinforced in 1851 when we see William Marks (b1810) and family at the Hall. William is a master brickmaker and indeed, that is the fate which befell Vauxhall Gardens, as the sandstone was hewn away to provide even more building materials. By 1848, the Manchester Courier was lamenting the decline of the Gardens, only being considered charming only for the factory operativesº.
By 1873, the Hall was gone. It was demolished and replaced by St James’s Church which has in turn disappeared.
Returning to the dig performed by the University Of Salford Archeological Group in 2016 to try and find remains of the Hall, but this yielded nothing. However the excavation was carried out at the Collyhurst Nursery School on Teignmouth Street, whilst the new Church can be seen on the 1891 OS map on Eggington Street, which still remains today as the Church of the Saviour and St Saviour’s CofE School on the same site, the 1819 map also suggests the site as here.
By this time, the site was engulfed by terraced housing. Whilst there is no confirmed picture of Collyhurst Hall, given the site of Vauxhall Gardens, this engraving from the early 19th century may give us a glimpse in the building behind the revellers:
¹ We will revisit the Lever family and Alkrington later. For now just know that this is the why Lever Street is so called. It has nothing to do with the Lever brothers.
² Possibly D’Arcy, Byrom was great friends with D’Arcy Lever, and as he wrote in his patent shorthand, many names are mistranscribed.
³ Or Ryder, both spellings exist.
º Vauxhall Street in Collyhurst marks the site of the Gardens.
Original Poems On Miscellaneous Subjects, Charles Kenworthy: Sold by the Author, 1841
The Poems of John Byrom, Ward:Chetham Society, 1895
The English Pleasure Garden 1660-1860, Sarah Jane Downing: Shire, 2009
© Allan Russell, 2020.