I suppose at least Hough End Hall has survived all the indignities Manchester Council have heaped on it.
Perhaps in their shame the council have hidden it amongst prefab hell. They really do hate buildings.
Hough End stands on the border between Chorlton and Withington, the name derives from the Saxon, hof ende, a dwelling on a boundary. Robert Moseley possessed land in Manchester during the reign of Edward IV and in 1465 a house was built on the site by Jenkyn Moseley.
Jenkyn’s grandson Edward (c 1507- c 1571) married Margaret Elcock (c 1510- c 1589) the daughter of Alexander Elcock of Hillgate, Stockport, one time mayor and wealthy merchant.
Margaret and Edward had around 12 children. Oswald¹ (1534-1621) we met at Ancoats Hall. Nicholas (1527-1612) and Anthony (1537-1607) took up trade as clothworkers in Manchester. The business was successful and in order to maximise their market and build an export trade, Nicholas went to London, where he rose to become Lord Mayor and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. At his investiture, Elizabeth presented him with an oak bedstead and other furniture for his new house in Manchester, which he had recently built on the site of the first property. This was the first brick building built in Manchester since the departure of the Romans. Yes it is that significant.
Assuming airs and graces, he changed the spelling of his name to Mosley, to better ring with his recently adopted motto, Mos Legem Regit, (customer or precedent rules the law).
In 1579 John Lacy, a clothworker friend in London, lent £3,000 to Sir William West, Lord De La Warre and his son Thomas, with a security of the deeds of the manor of Manchester. The loan was not repaid, and Nicholas was appointed attorney to pursue the debt. There was probably some deal struck prior to this for in 1596 upon a further payment of £500 to John Lacy the manor was made over to the Mosley family and in 1604 he was appointed High Sheriff of Lancaster.
He married first, Margaret Whitbroke (1530-1612) who bore him a son and heir, Rowland (1560-1616) after her death he married Elizabeth Rookes. He spent his final days at Hough End, and was buried at St James, Didsbury.
Rowland married Anne Sutton (1590-1661) of Macclesfield, the couple funded a major rebuild of St James to make it into the church we know today, they are commemorated in a monument on the wall of the church, which shows Sir Nicholas kneeling in prayer²
Sir Nicholas’ other son, Anthony (1562-1616) was the black sheep of the family. He went to London to live an idle and dissolute life, leaving an illegitimate son who sued for a share of the family estates. Another son, Edward (1568-1638) became a member the Bar at Gray’s Inn and purchased the estate at Rolleston in Staffordshire, which in time became the main residence of the family.
Rowland’s heir Sir Edward Mosley (1616-1657) inherited the estate whilst still a minor, and as Sir Oswald states in the family memoirs, his mother’s fond indulgence during his youth, developed into the dissapation of his manhood.
To rein him in, an early marriage was arranged and he wed Mary Cutler acquiring further properties – Breadsall Park in Derby and much land in Leicestershire. This calmed him down and he lived much of his life at Hough End, but also increasingly lived at Rolleston.
He was a supporter of Charles I, and during the siege of Manchester, his residence on Deansgate, Alport Lodge, was used to fire cannon at the approaching parliamentary troops. However the house was burned down in the battle, never to be rebuilt.
He maintained his support for Charles, lending him £20,000 and mustered more troops to fight the cause, being defeated at Middlewich by Sir William Brereton. Edward was captured hiding in the church, and was only released upon promise that he would not again bear arms against the Roundheads, and in addition his estates were sequestrated.
After this he returned to London, where he once more enjoyed the life of a wild bachelor, living in Chambers at Gray’s Inn, although not a member. His philandering was brought to an end when a married woman with whom he had a relationship exorted money from him, and with her husband brought him to court. He was found not guilty, and on 21 September 1647 his estates were returned to him.
However, by now he was a broken man, and quite exhausted and impoverished by his wild existence, he returned to Hough End and died there in December 1657. His son Edward (1639-1665) became MP for St Michael in Cornwall and married Catherine, the daughter of Lord Grey. However the sins of the father are visited upon the young, and he died a few years later, without an heir, settling his estates on his wife.
On her death the estate reverted to Oswald Mosley of Ancoats Hall. By now the family had several estates in Manchester and nearby: Breadsall Park in Derby, Hulme Hall Hough End, large parts of Didsbury, Heaton Norris, Chorlton and Cheadle as well as Rolleston. It was Edward Mosley, Oswald’s son who inherited the estates. He married Jane Saltonstall and they had a sole daughter and heiress, Ann (1662-1734).
During Edward’s life all the Mosley troubles came to a head and there was great litigation over the estates, leading to them being broken up.
Ann kept the Hough End Estate, although she lived at Hulme Hall. She married Sir John Bland MP of Kippax (1663-1715) in 1685. Whilst she did not display the wild Mosley roots she stood firmly on the Hannoverian side in the succession rows. Her great rival, Mrs Drake supported the Stuarts. Ann was however, a fashionista, Mrs Drake lived on Millgate, on the corner of Miller’s Lane and Corporation Street. The two were fierce fashion rivals. Mrs Drake sported silk stockings and plaid, whilst Ann wore bright colours. A somewhat imposing woman, Drake is said to have preferred beef and beer to tea and toast. She also owned the first carriage in Manchester. Her residence became a public house after her death and remained so until demolition
Lady Bland fell out with her rival at a town ball leading her troupe into the street where they danced by moonlight.
This battle of two style icons gave us St Ann’s Church. Ann was a member of Cross Street Chapel, disliking the Collegiate Church favoured by the Drakes. As a result in 1708 her husband steered a bill through parliament to build new low church and square in Manchester surrounded by fine houses courtyards and gardens – that became what is, in my opinion, Manchester’s finest.
Her husband was also in the Mosley mould, and most kindly left Ann his estate in trust to pay off his debts, their son, also Sir John (1691-1773) was equally profligate on the gambling table and was forced to sell Hough End to the Egerton family of Tatton in 1751 to settle his gambling liabilities.
The Egertons had little interest in occupying the property so they let it out to a series of tenant farmers. In 1841 Henry Jackson (1778-1847) and his wife Sarah are living at the Hall. On his death, the Hall was briefly considered for the seat of the Bishop of Manchester, but no agreement could be reached with the Egertons and so in 1848 Samuel Lomax (1816-1895) and his wife Mary Alderley (1824-1895) moved in as tenants.
The Lomax family were not simple farmers, they appear to have tended several properties in the area, including Denby Lane and Tithe Barn Farms in Heaton Norris. They had relatives in the clergy and Samuel left a fortune of £21,467 (£3m in 2021) on his death. He retired in 1893 and the farm was taken over by a relative, another Samuel Lomax (1862-1930) who looked after the farm until his death. Samuel married Sarah Ellen “Nellie” Lomax (1864-1940) who continued to live there until her death.
Samuel and Sarah had four children, John (1889-1940) who died in Prestwich mental hospital, Mary Ethel Lomax (1884-1977) who died in Canada, Constance A Lomax (b 1899) and Eveline (b 1910), that they were a wealthy family can be seen by these pictures from Andrew Simpson’s collection:
After the Lomax family the house was occupied by a Mr F W Wood and family, a Cotton Factory Manager. However, well before this the Hall was in danger. The council planned a new road passing just 40 feet away from the hall, after objections they diverted the road to 150 feet away.
However it stood not far from Alexandra Park aerodrome built in 1917, which offered the UK’s first scheduled domestic air service, from Manchester to Blackpool via Birkdale, leaving town at 14:00 and arriving in Blackpool at 14:45 for nine guineas return (£325 in 2021). The airport was extended, offering flights to Croydon and Schipol. In order to reassure passengers a telegram would be sent from Croydon to Manchester on the safe landing of the plane, which would then be despatched by messenger boys to the passenger’s family homes.
The terms of the Egerton lease were that flights were to cease five years after the war, and in 1924 the buildings were converted for use by police constables and Princess Road was built the following year. The fields are now used as football pitches.
Still the future of the Hall hung in the balance, and it was threatened with demolition several times. As early as 1923 people were campaigning to save it, convert it into a library or civic centre. There were several attempts by the council to buy the Hall off the Egerton family and in 1937 agreement was near on acquiring the hall, subject to maintenance issues, even then in 1946 the Royal Manchester Institution had to intervene with the council to prevent demolition.
The Hall served as a pub and restaurant, then offices, then a pub again. It is now being converted into an Academy school, however it has lost most if not all of its original features. The staircase can be seen at Tatton Hall, and Nicholas Mosley’s bedstead? I do not know. Quite frankly it’s a mess.
Let’s see it in better times:
¹ Who also had a penchant for Stockport girls.
² The monument was originally placed in a vestry, but that was blocked with a gallery and pews so it was moved to the opposite wall, resulting in the family all facing the wrong way, away from the altar.
Family Memoirs, Sir Oswald Mosley, Privately Printed:1849
Memorials Of Bygone Manchester, Richard Wright Procter: Palmer & Howe 1880.
© Allan Russell 2021.