Hough Hall may not even be standing by the time you read this. It is in a very sorry state after years of neglect and abuse and was recently sold at auction for £165,000. It was listed at Grade II in 1974, and will probably be eventually demolished for new build. The Council have washed their hands of it, and I would guess that the outlay required to restore it to its pristine condition would far outweigh the return that could be obtained from constructing apartments within the listing rules.
It has already been partly demolished, and I would recommend you take a last look if you have the opportunity. The issue is not who owns it now, but why it has been allowed to deteriorate to such a condition.
It was quite different in 1854. The Reverend Booker says it was the only mansion commemorative of Moston’s ancient glory to have survived the ravages of time and the march of modern improvement, it certainly stood in a more rural setting back then:
George Halgh of Halgh (Hough) was a Manchester Gentleman living during Henry VIII’s reign (1509-1547). His widow, Ann subsquently married Sir John Byron of Clayton – whilst her late husband was alive she had been living openly with John Byron (which if you are patient to wait until the end, neatly bookends the residents). Ann and John’s illegitimate son inherited the estate, they also had a daughter, Ann, who not only inherited her mother’s name, but also her wanton ways. She married Cuthbert Schofield of Rochdale, but was accused of adultery with Michael Goodricke, upstairs in the marital bedroom whilst Cuthbert and his mother were at Rochdale market. She had unwisely left a tailor downstairs making a gown, whilst dallying with her inamorata. This tailor informed the returning cuckold, who fetched his sword and chased Goodricke and his unfaithful lover. They escaped certain death by jumping through a window and fleeing.
Around 1591, Robert Halghe of Halghe died at Hough Hall. He left goods and chattels valued at £129.17.6 to his widow, Cecily. Unfortunately his debts totalled, £159.0.4. The Halgh family owned a great deal of land in the area. In 1646, Robert Halghe of Moston took Charles I’s side and paid a fine of £25 to avoid further seizures by the parliamentarians.
The last Halgh to live at Moston was Robert Halgh. In his will of March 30 1678, he wisely bequeaths his soul to God. In matters more secular he bequeathed Hough Hall to his putative (it appears to be a family trait) son, John Dawson, alias Halgh.
On Robert’s death the Hall was immediately purchased by James Lightbowne of Manchester. It then passed into the hands of the Minshull family of Chorlton Hall, until Spanking Roger Aytoun sold it off to fund his extravagances and further deplete the estate of his elderly wife.
Roger sold the estate to Samuel Taylor (d 1801) in 1775. The Taylor family had been landowners in Moston since the 14th century.
Samuel was a Colonel in the Manchester and Salford Volunteers and owned already great tracts of land in the Moston area, including Moston House. He lived at Hough with his wife until his death. The house was then inherited by his son, also Samuel (1772-1820) who had interests in cotton in both Moston and Stockport, and became Grand Master of the First Orange Lodge in Manchester in 1808. Samuel sold his wares from a premises on Princess Street in Manchester. Samuel also lived at Hough Hall.
In 1812 he bought Eccleston Hall from Thomas Eccleston Scarisbrick and his son, again Samuel (1802-1881), settled there as his main residence, marrying Mary Anne Sill, the daughter of The Reverend John Sill, the Rector of Fonthill Gifford and Prebendary of Sarum. Samuel also purchased a residence, Ibbotsholme in Troutbeck near Kendal where he also spent his time.
As he was now uninterested in living at Hough Hall, the property was leased out to a number of farmers, in 1841 Thomas Thorpe (b c1776) and his wife Phoebe Ogden (1781-1848) are tending the property. John Brundrett (b 1816) is working at the farm as a labourer. John married Sarah Thorpe, Thomas and Phoebe’s daughter. In 1851 they are looking after the farm, with their children, Mary (b 1840), Phoebe (b 1842), Samuel (b 1846) and Ann (b 1853).
By 1871 they have moved to Street Fold Farm in Moston. John and Sarah died some time in the 1870s and the children carried on farming at the property. Phoebe married James Johnson, the local overseer of the poor in 1879 and went to live on Kenyon Lane¹.
Mary, Samuel and Ann continued at Street Fold Farm until Mary married relatively late in life, aged 43 to John Sidebottom (aged 62) a local farmer.
In 1871, the Mills sisters, Ann (b 1832), Elizabeth (b 1834) and Mary (b 1836) are farming at the Hall. They were the daughters of Charles and Mary Mills who looked after Boar Green Farm in Moston. After their father’s death around 1861, they moved to farm on Oldham Road, Newton Heath, before coming to Hough Hall.
After Samuel Taylor died in 1881, his son sold the Hall to Robert Ward (1830-1904) who was born on Kenyon Lane, but living on Hough Hall Street at the time of purchase. Robert was the son of Robert Ward, a weaver and dyer. With his brother James (b 1826) who lived across the road at Hough House, he traded as a merchant of fustians and cords in Moston.
Robert married Sarah Whitehead (1834-1919) in 1854 and the couple had six girls and one boy. Robert sold part of the land to Manchester Council in 1899 to allow them to build Moston Lane County Primary School, which still stands on the corner of Hough Hall Road and Moston Lane.
Robert died at Hough Hall on 6 February 1904, Sarah lived on until early 1919 and passed away at the house.
Their eldest daughter, Elizabeth married George Henry Fisher (1859-1931), a Blackpool builder and the couple lived at 43 Crystal Road on the South Shore until her death in 1936. George, a Blackpool FC fan collapsed and died in the centre stand aged 72 at Broomfield Road, whilst watching his team play Preston North End. They had three children, Sarah Thorpe Fisher (1889-1962), Robert Howard Fisher (1887-1914) and Henry Ward Fisher (1885-1967).
Whilst two of the children lived long lives, Robert Howard Fisher met a more grisly end. On the 2 December 1914, just after the rest of the family, bar his father, had left for a break in Matlock he was killed in his father’s workshop.
Robert’s brother with whom he shared a room, had recently suffered a nervous breakdown. The brothers being close this had unsettled Robert, and had been withdrawn in recent weeks. He had made some mistakes whilst drawing up the books, for which his father had told him not to worry.
At 11am that morning Robert came up to the foreman, and said that his father wanted to see him in the main office. Two minutes later, the foreman returned, it having been a ruse to get the him out of the way to discover Robert lying in a pool of blood next to the circular saw, his face had been cut in two, and his head was nearly decapitated.
The coroner determined that the saw was safe, and required deliberate effort to start, and no wood was discovered nearby which he could have been cutting. It was also not possible to start the saw by brushing or fainting against it. A verdict of suicide whilst of unsound mind was returned.
Alice Fisher (1857-1921) married Alfred Herbert Lisett of Chorlton (1857-1921) in 1886 and the couple moved to Hornsey in Middlesex where he worked as a merchant in a Cape Goods manufacturer. Mary Ward (1860-1938) married Henry Anderson MD (1856-1928), a GP. The couple emigrated to Queensland where they lived out their days.
John Ward (1864-1939) married Louisa Mary Rawlinson in 1888 and the couple lived intially on Hough Hall Street before moving to Brantwood in Prestwich. John followed inherited his fathers fustian manufacturing business.
The next daughter, Hannah Ward was born in 1866. Joannah Ward (1870-1946) married an Insurance Clerk, Samuel Foulds Crook (1869-1939), who again lived Hough Hall Street before his marriage.
Finally Amy Ward (1870-1950) stayed at Hough Hall until her mother’s death, and died in Worsley on 10 November 1950.
After the Wards the Hall was occupied by Dr William Struthers Moore MD, ChB, MBE. William was born in Glasgow in 1883 to Andrew Moore and Catherine Struthers who ran a dairy business in Glasgow. He studied medicine at Glasgow University, becoming MD in 1910. The following year he was a GP in Blackley at Blackley House at William Sankey’s practise. He was awarded the MBE in 1920 and in 1921 moved into Hough Hall where he stayed until 1933.
The Hall was probably used as a practice house, as the next resident was Gerald Green (born 1904) and his wife, Freda Wroe (b 1912) whom he married in 1929. They lived at Hough Hall until 1939.
During World War II, Gerald was stationed as medical officer at the 47th British Hospital in Calcutta. It was here he wooed and married Mary Virginia Maloney, a nursing sister.
The only problem here was that he was still married to Freda². Consequently in 1945 it all unravelled and he was struck off. To her credit Freda stood by him.
Thus the decline began. In 1939 the Hall was used to store cosmetic goods. The owners took care of it, as the product had to be stored in a dry place, and they installed central heating to achieve this. However, local vandals started on the property and broke windows leading to calls for the Hall to be protected.
Since then the decline has been slow but inevitable. There are calls to transform it to a museum or community centre, but that given its present state is highly unlikely. I suggest you visit before another part of medieval Manchester disappears forever. Let’s see it in better times.
¹ Named for George Kenyon (1776-1855), the second Baron Kenyon, Deputy Grandmaster of the Orange Order of England and Wales and fierce anti catholic.
² I told you there was tidy bookending.
A History Of The Ancient Chapel Of Blackley, Reverend John Booker : George Simms, 1854
© Allan Russell 2021.