Passing through Poynton today, you would think that the London Road is the main thoroughfare. Before 1762 however, there was no direct route to Macclesfield. Sir George Warren of Poynton Hall wanted to improve his estate, and employed John Metcalf the blind civil engineer to lay out new roads¹. In addition James Pickford was developing his road haulage business in Poynton and he also needed good roads. In 1762 the road went along the Crescent (now a very desirable road, but then a coal yard), past Poynton Green, via Clumber Road down Dickens Lane² crossing Poynton Brook. A little later a main turnpike was built from Bullock Smithy, past the Rising Sun over Norbury brook, by Norbury Hall, skirting Poynton Hall and on to Macclesfield. The old road became just a byway. Burdett’s 1777 map shows the route of the new turnpike. Old milestones can still be seen along the road dating from its days as a turnpike.
Clumber House was built in 1879 for John Henry Buxton (1841-1915) and his wife Isabella Tarn (b 1840). John was the son of John Buxton (1815-1878) and Hannah Taylor (b 1814). His father was an engraver, and married Hannah, the daughter of a Hazel Grove farmer on the 5 October 1835. John was initially an engraver but he followed his wife’s family to Clumber Cottage on Clumber Road, to become a farmer and estate agent.
The house stands on the corner of Dickens Lane and Clumber Road in Poynton, next to the old farmhouse called Clumber Cottage.
John Henry married Isabella Tarn of Kendal on 10 May 1865 and followed in his father’s footsteps in the printing business, but concentrating on newspaper management. He started out as a journalist but between 1880 he was Deputy Manager and Accountant to the Manchester Guardian, by 1881 he is the manager, and until 1900 he was acting manager of the Guardian, as a member of the firm, Taylor³ Garnet & Company. The couple lived at Clumber house from its completion until around 1900. He describes himself on the census as a Newspaper Proprietor and Manager during his time in Poynton.
John Henry had obtained his role in the Manchester Guardian from the relentless lobbying of his father, John. He was given a share in the partnership, in a letter from John Edward Taylor to C P Scott on 7 January 1884 it was suggested that he have a 2/30th stake in the company which would give him a £1,000 profit share. However, JE Taylor was not as keen on the lobbying that John had made to get his son a post. He did not like the idea of the father instilling his antiquated ideas in the young son.
Buxton senior was a problem at the paper. He was given to fits of rage, and he took delight in his power over subordinates, and described gleefully how they writhe under his reprimands. His moods worsened over the decade, JE Taylor noted another letter from Buxton, I am feeling jaded and if he should ever indulge in such an outburst again, I must make an end of the matter on 5 June 1890. A few months later he wrote to Scott from Folkestone that the old illness is in full bloom.
Meanwhile John Henry was causing Scott and Taylor grief in negotiations for the sale of the Guardian’s printing plant in London which produced Titbits. J E Taylor did not feel he was keeping him sufficiently in the loop and complained to his father, as well as noting to Scott that John Henry had come up with yet another scheme. He even went as far as suspecting that he was trying to make a private profit on the deal.
By 1891 relations had sunk even further with J E Taylor suspecting that he was using his father’s illness to maximise any benefit. John Henry even went as far as saying he would produce his own newspapers, but this was not seen as a major threat, more a trouble they wanted rid of.
In 1895 John Buxton senior’s health had worsened considerably, prompting Taylor to say poor Mrs Buxton, she deserved a better fate in her old age, it is a pity Henry is not there to protect his mother. Taylor had run into Buxton senior in Piccadilly in London, and noted that he looked stuffed and bloated, probably as a result of turning to drink.
The following month Taylor confirmed that drink was the problem, and that no doubt a return of his violent nature would reoccur. To make things worse, John Henry Buxton’s health had deteriorated and he was reported as being seriously ill.
The problem the Guardian now had was to remove both men from the office, and as far away from Manchester as possible, and they gave serious consideration to buying both Poynton properties as a means to achieve this
Ill health forced John Henry Buxton to retire in 1900, and the couple initially wished to move near Southport, advertising both Clumber House and Clumber Cottage for sale, but willing to exchange for a property in Birkdale. However, they ended up in Felixstowe, where they lived in a house they named to reflect their Poynton roots, Clumber Cottage on Montague Road. John died on 9 November 1915. They did not manage to sell the houses in 1901, trying again in 1905 when the property was withdrawn after only receiving a bid of £925
The couple had five children. John Henry Buxton Jr (b1866) became a fruit grower. Isabella Tarn Buxton (1869-1955) married Edward Long Shanks (1863-1927), the son of Peter Martin Shanks, typefounder, who provided fonts to Fleet Street from his offices in Red Lion Square.
Edward Alan Tarn Buxton (1873-1943) lived with his father on his own means moving with him to Felixstowe, and still was living there in 1911. He died in Surrey. Finally Mabel Tarn Buxton (1877-1884) and Mildred Tarn Buxton (1879-1884) died young, and are buried in Poynton.
After the Buxton family William C Burt, an East India Merchant and widower moved in with his three sons, William, Owen and Norman.
Charles Richard Buckley (1866-1934) bought the house in 1905. His father Joseph was a Calico Printer. Charles was born in Bury and brought up in Broughton. He married Edith Annie Makinson on 30 March 1892 and they had three children, Marjorie, Dorothy and Geoffrey.
Charles stayed at Clumber House until at his death. He was buried at Woodford Parish Church.
The house was unoccupied in 1939, and after the war was a doctors surgery, and more recently a care home.
Let’s see some pictures:
¹ Metcalf was responsible for building the road through Wakefield, Huddersfield and Saddleworth via Standedge. Incredibly he operated a stagecoach line at one point, despite being blind, he drove the coach himself.
² Nothing to do with Charles Dickens predating the author by many years, although the surrounding Dickens Estate clearly is.
³ John’s mother, Hannah Taylor may have been related to John Edward Taylor who married into the Scott family and formed the more well known founding Guardian cabal. However I have not been able to prove any links.
Poynton, A Coalmining Village, Shercliff, Kitching Ryan : W H Shercliff, 1990
Manchester Guardian Archive at the John Rylands Library
© Allan Russell 2021.