The derivation of the name Crumpsall is that in Saxon times it was the residence of one Curme, Curmes Hall evolved into Crumpsall¹. In 1282 the Manor of Crumpsall was held by the Lord of Manchester. Around 1400 the Radcliffe family gained possession of the land at a rent of ten shillings (50p) pa. They held the manor until 1548, when the Earl of Sussex sold it to John Reddish and in 1789 it was sold to Lord Grey of Wilton, who added it to his Heaton Estate, and part was sold to William Marsden, a merchant from Liverpool. Marsden’s share was sold off after his death and split up.
The original Hall was possibly built around 1560, and at that time belonged to Edmund Prestwich of Hulme, it was probably built to accommodate a well to do middle class farmer, and the occupant at this time was one Henry Chetham (b 1543). Henry married Ellen Wroe (d 1593) of Heaton in Prestwich. Henry and Ellen had nine children, of whom the fifth was christened Humphrey (1580-1653) and born at Crumpsall Hall.
Humphrey was eductated at Manchester Grammar School and at the age of 17 he was apprenticed to Samuel Tipping, a local linen dealer. In 1605 he and his brothers George and Ralph were trading in fustians in London. The cloth was spun by weavers around Bolton for onward sale at a profit in Manchester and abroad.
This was a successful venture and he started to rise from his middle class roots, buying first, around 1620, Clayton Hall at in 1628 Turton Tower near Bolton from William Orrell.
The ladies of the Orrell family were unhappy at parting with their ancestral residence, and Humphrey allowed them to stay there for the remainder of their lives, he resided at Clayton, and made improvements to it in a manner befitting a man of wealth.
Humphrey’s increasing wealth became known to the Crown, and in 1631 he was offered a Knighthood by Charles I to be bestowed on his coronation, which he refused, being fined for the affront.
Nevertheless he continued to rise in status and by 1635 he was High Sheriff of Lancashire, and saw fit to assume a coat of arms. Unluckily he chose the arms of the Chadderton family, which brought a threat of prosecution and an investigation into his heritage by the Heralds college who concluded:
That Humfrey Chetham when Sherrif, was anxious to prove his right to arms, but that of his elder brother(‘s) ….. memory could not give the connection…….the Heralds were… ignorant of the origin of Chetham of Crumpsall.
During his lifetime he embarked on a number of charitable causes, and in his will donated a further £7,500 for the purchase of the Manor House of the Gresley family in Manchester, to fund in perpetuity a bluecoat school, plus a further £1,100 for the establishment and construction of a free library which subsequently became the building we know today as Chetham’s School Of Music and Library. The endowment was not wholly selfless, being a parliamentarian, he was keen that as he was unmarried his wealth did not fall into the hands of the Crown.
Humphrey died 1653 and was buried at the Collegiate Church near to the college he endowed, a monument to him stands inside.
After Humphrey’s death, the Hall remained in the Chetham family hands before passing to the Waklyn family (who remained in the area, living at the similarly named Crumpsall House², for which the Hall is interchanged in many old newspapers).
The old hall was made of wood and demolished sometime later and a new building was built half a mile away on the site shown above.
In 1763 the Hall was occupied by one Joseph Tippings who was a linen dealer, and possibly descended from Samuel, to whom Humphrey was apprenticed.
After that we see Thomas Blackwall in residence in 1809 with his wife Mary (1754-1829). The hall then passed to their son, John Blackwall (1790-1881) who was a noted Natural Historian and member of the Linnean Society, and was living there in 1832. The Blackwalls were linen traders, importing materials from Ireland. John entered this enterprise at first but developed an interest in natural history, publishing observations in 1821 on mean temperatures, and in 1822 on migratory birds. He specialised in the study of spiders and the construction of webs. His arachnoid study was carried out on his own with just a magnifying glass for equipment. He wrote A History of the Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland, which was belatedly published by the Ray Society after they had delayed publication for ten years.
He married a Welsh girl, Jane Scott, at Capel Garmon in Denbighshire in 1836, and died on 11 May 1881 at Hendre House in Llanwrst.
In 1842 we find Captain John Milligen Laws RN (1799-1859) in residence at the Hall. John was born at Watlington in Norfolk and was the nephew of Sir Robert Seppings, the surveyor to the Navy. His family was originally involved in the Linen trade, but no doubt as a result of his distinguished family connections he entered the Senior Service at the age of ten, sailing on the HMS Ramilies which sailed to North America under Sir Thomas Hardy (of Kiss Me fame). On this expedition Hardy captured great swathes of Eastern Coastal Maine. John was promoted to Lieutenant in 1818 and served first on the Spartan, under Captain Wise sailing to the West Indies and South America, then the Aurora under Captain Prescott. He also served under Captain Graham Eden Hamond on HMS Wellesley on a mission to Portugal and Brazil to negotiate a trade treaty with Pedro I, on this voyage they were accompanied by the artist Charles Landseer.
He was commissioned a commander in 1825 and the following year sailed on HMS Satellite, an 18 gun sloop designed by his uncle for experimental duties in the Channel, then East Indies, Australia, New Zealand and the Bay of Bengal. During this time he captured a band of convicts who had turned to piracy in these waters.
After making extensive surveys of the Bay of Bengal, he sailed to Pondicherry to acknowledge the government of Louis Philippe of France. John was confirmed as Captain in 1833 and remained on land after that. He married Mary Matthias in 1836 and had two sons. He eventually rose to Rear Admiral in 1856.
During his time at Crumpsall Hall between 1842 and 1845 he busied himself with Railway Directorships, acting as General Manager and Director of the Manchester and Leeds Railway, as well as taking interest in other Railway building projects such as the Welsh Midland Railway and York, Hull and Eastern Railway. He died on 3 March 1859 in Binfield in Berkshire.
The Hall was subsequently occupied by an Altrincham born solicitor. Robert Worthington (1805-1868) and his wife Elizabeth Brewin (1811-1880) were in residence between 1847 and 1858, having moved from Sale Old Hall to live in Crumpsall. During the Chartist riots of 1848 Robert was a commander in the mounted patrols for the militia, rescuing John Henry, the son of Alexander Henry MP and cotton merchant who had been pelted with stones by the mob, severely wounding him in the skull. Robert conveyed John by brougham to the town hall, battling through the mob, and securing medical attention for his charge.
Robert sat on the board of the Altrincham, Bowdon and Dunham District Waterworks Company, and in 1861 had been appointed Registrar to the County Court. The family moved to Hyde Road in Ardwick in 1857 and died in Altrincham in 1868.
Robert was a keen amateur astronomer and had an observatory constructed at Crumpsall. Unfortunately he was also blind in one eye, which severely hampered his ability to make studies of the night sky. He therefore allowed his friend Joseph Baxendell to use the facility, an opportunity he made full use of. Joseph (1815-1887), the son of a farmer, Thomas, was a delicate child who made frequent visits to Southport with his mother. During this time, he gained both an interest in astronomy from his mother, but also the sea. In 1833 he sailed to Valparaiso and witnessed a meteor shower, which was subsequently determined to be the Leonids. Whilst off the coast of Chile in 1835 he also experienced the disastrous earthquake of that year.
He made many observations from the Crumpsall telescope, including a failed attempt to witness an eclipse of the Sun in 1852, which was hampered by the eternal Mancunian enemy, rain. This eclipse was the first ever to be photographed, alas not from Manchester, but from the Royal Observatory in Konigsberg.
Thomas and Joseph also witnessed the occultation of the star Regulus on May 19 1858. He moved the observatory to his Ardwick residence after this, but Manchester Corporation installed the Corporation Observatory at Crumpsall in its place, where Joseph continued to make astronomical findings, including noting the connection between solar activity and magnetic and meterological activity on earth. He also successfully predicted the drought of 1868, helping the council regulate the supply of water and mitigate its worst effects.
Joseph moved to Birkdale near Southport where he continued his studies, predicting the outbreak of an epidemic, and marrying Mary Anne Pogson, the sister of Norman Robert Pogson, the government astronomer for Madras. He died on 7 October 1887 in Southport.
The Hall was something of a temporary residence for many people, the next in line being Joseph Seddon Scholes, a merchant cotton spinner and his wife Matilda Southey, who followed on from Robert Worthington. As well as interests in cotton the Scholes family owned Scholes and Tetlow Bankers who traded from 35 King Street (which is one of the few Georgian Properties that remain in the centre). Joseph took a keen interest in the welfare of his workers, which led to his demise. He died of a fever contracted whilst inspecting part of Crumpsall with a view to improving the sanitary conditions there on 2 September 1865. Matilda stayed on at the Hall until her death on 24 February 1867.
The following year we meet Edmund Hamer Broadbent (b 1836) and his wife Martha at Crumpsall. Edmund was a paper manufacturer at the Creams Paper Mill in Little Lever. Creams was founded as far back as 1677, and passed through a number of owners until the Broadbents and was closed in in 2004 at which time it was producing 63,000 tons of corrugated paper products per annum.
Edmund’s son, also Edmund Hamer (1861-1945) became a Christian Missionary who travelled widely and through his work is said to have inspired the building of hundreds of churches in the countries he visited in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and South America.
The Hall was purchased in 1875 by the Manchester District Land and Building Association with a view to building houses, and the last sole occupant of the Hall in 1881 was Ventry De Moleyns Mellin (1825-1889) an export merchant born in Wakefield with his wife Frances Jane Watson. The family had moved out by 1889 and was living at Shakespeare House on Shakespeare Street in Manchester.
After that before demolition the house may have been subdivided into flats, as William Entwistle, a game and commission agent is recorded there on the 1891 census, and it is also being offered for sale by one George Horrocks, an estate agent, who also lived there between 1885 and 1901.
Many accounts say that the old hall was demolished in 1825, and replaced with a new one. The site of the Hall is now Crumpsall Park. Whilst the final Hall was demolished in the late nineteenth century, the lodge still remains, as well as the layout of the grounds, an avenue of trees and an obelisk monument. Let’s see some images:
¹ An alternate derviation is an old English word meaning crooked place by a river.
² As far as possible I have double checked ambigious references to house and hall, and will cover the House at a later date.
³ The nephew of Francis Philips (1771-1850) of Bank Hall.
Views Of The Old Halls of Lancashire and Cheshire, N G Philips: Henry Gray, 1893
© Allan Russell 2020