Samuel Grimshawe (1771-1851) came from a Manchester merchant family. He married Ann Hulme, the daughter of Otho, who had used the inheritance of his innkeeper father to build a mill at Lands End Fulling Mill, Middleton to found Otho Hulme & Sons,
Samuel was a mill owner and a founding director the Manchester Assurance company in March 1824 on King Street. The company was sizeable, founded with a share capital of £2m (£250m in 2021) of which 10% was called up. It had an extensive network of agents at the start with representation as far south as Gloucester and North to Dundee. He lived on Moseley Street from about 1800 to 1824, after which he moved to Mill Bank at Partington, on the Mersey. Around 1835 he started to negotiate the purchase of 2,000 acres of land¹ near Taxal from the Earl of Derby but wanted a family home, away from the pollution of Manchester between Macclesfield and Buxton.
The family were Catholic, and it was originally intended to build a chapel overlooking the house, as can be seen in the architects drawings. The residence was near the hamlet of Goyt’s Bridge, but Buxton was a difficult five mile trek away². The architect was Alexander Roos (1810-1881) who practised from Scotland. He also designed the Bute Estate in Wales, and several areas in Cardiff.
His original design was quite imposing. The house was placed on a high platform with views over the valley and over the years the surrounding countryside was planted with 40,000 rhodendra.
Samuel Grimshaw senior had two sisters, Margaret Elizabeth (1814-1887) who married John Upton Gaskell (1804-1883) a colleague mill owner who settled at Ingersley Hall in nearby Rainow. The other sister, Hannah died at Errwood in 1848.
A few years after the completion of the house, Samuel died on 27 January 1851 at Errwood and was succeeded by his son, Samuel Mary Dominic Grimshawe (1808-1883). Samuel Junior converted to Catholicism in 1851 and decided to use the house as his main residence.
He abandoned plans for the imposing chapel, burying his father on the mound in a domestic chapel. Samuel Jr had been educated at Brasenose College in Oxford and was particularly keen on the old masters, he therefore decorated the house with paintings by Velasquez and commissioned expensive furniture for the house.
He married Jessie Hunter Allen of Edinburgh on 18 June 1849 and the couple spent their time between the Hall and 74 Rue de Chaillot in Paris³. Samuel and Jessie lived quietly together, they helped found many Catholic churches in the area, including Salford and Whaley Bridge. Samuel was a keen yachtsman, a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club of Ireland. He served as a magistrate, but most mentions of him appear in the Tablet, reflecting his committment to the Catholic Church. They lived all their lives at Errwood. He died on 20 April 1883, and Jessie died 5 December 1893 at the Norfolk Hotel in London.
They had two girls and one boy. Samuel Arthur Hope Grimshawe (1850-1851) died in childbirth, depriving him of a male heir, but the two daughters Marie Ambrose Jemima Louisa Grimshawe (1851-1930) and Anna Genevieve Marie Grimshawe (1852-1929) lived most of their lives at the house.
All being strict Catholics the chapel was served by a priest who lived with the family, and many servants were Spanish born, one of whom, Dona Maria Dolores de Ybarguen served as Lady’s companion to Jessie Grimshawe after the death of Samuel. A shrine was built above the house to her memory.
Marie was born on 7 December 1851 at Errwood, after an unsuccessful engagement to Count Louis Lubienski of Bullington Manor Hertfordshire, she married Hellier Robert Hadley Gosselin (1849-1924) of Bengeo Hall Hertfordshire, an Architect and two times mayor of Hereford. Robert changed his name by deed poll to Gosselin-Grimshawe.
Although spending time at Bengeo, Marie did not end her association with Errwood, paying regular visits and defending the hall against daytrippers. It became a popular pastime to visit the Hall, and view the rhodendra displays. Quite often organised parties were entertained at the house. In 1901 after some vandalism at the Chapel, she closed the grounds, and in 1907 closed the drive to all but private charabancs, after the disgraceful behaviour of one party. She died on 17 May 1930 at Errwood.
Anna was born at the Paris residence on 29 December 1852 and spent all her life at Errwood. She married the Honourable Captain Edward Preston (d 1901) on 21 January 1891. She died on 28 January 1929 at Bandol Sur Mer in France.
Stockport Council had already decided to purchase the valley in order to flood it to build a reservoir, and after Marie’s death work progressed quickly, with some decrying the flooding as an assault on the tranquil beauty of the valley (whilst today the reservoirs are a noted tourist attraction). The Hall was emptied of its treasures, some to Catholic churches.
For a short while until 1934 the Hall was a Youth Hostel, but in the familiar anti hall attitude of local councillors saw the building demolished for fear of pollution, predating the similar demise of Derwent Hall.
Whilst it was an imposing building in its day, it provides a intriguing ruin today for those who follow the signs to Errwood Hall. There’s a lot to see and I well recommend a visit.
¹ Including the Cat and Fiddle Inn – once the highest public house in England, but now closed, several farmhouses and the hamlet of Goyt Bridge. The negotiations were fraught, as the Earl of Derby the landowner, claimed the Cat and Fiddle was on his land.
² Treacherous at times, the post from the hall was carried to Buxton on a daily basis each evening, and in January 1886, Herbert Waldron a servant was lost and killed in deep snow whilst on this journey.
³ Now, 12 Rue de Quentin-Bauchart, Chopin was the previous resident.
Lands End Works Middleton, Middleton Archeological Society
Errwood Hall Alistair Hall, Country Houses Magazine January 2017
A Goyt Valley Romance, Gerald Hancock : 2001
© Allan Russell 2021.