100 Halls Around Manchester Part 73: Manley Hall, Whalley Range

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Sam Mendel’s star once shone very brightly, then he lost his fortune and was forced to spend the rest of his days in reduced circumstances. Sadly, some of his children also met unfortunate ends. He had the magnificent Manley Hall built for himself around 1858. In my opinion this is the Victorian Stately Home and Park that Manchester should have kept, there were great plans for it, but wrangling and money issues meant that it was demolished and the land used for housing.

Samuel Mendel (1814-1884) was the son of Emmanuel (1791-1856) and Isabella. His father was a German born Jew who it is said came to England with the first of the English branch of the Rothschild family¹.

Emmanuel probably came with other members of the diaspora in the early 1810s. He was trading as a linen draper in Liverpool at the time of Sam’s birth, but is in Manchesters by 1825. He opened a hotel on Bridge Street, the Manchester and Liverpool Hotel, hoping to attract passengers arriving in Manchester from Liverpool, and with the coming of the Railways renamed his establishment Mendel’s Railway Hotel². However, he got into difficulties and had to abandon the property – despite the presence of Salford Station nearby. By 1850 Thomas Towers of the Polytechnic Tavern in Salford had the license and later the building housed the Children’s hospital. Emmanuel went on to operate a rope warehouse on Mulberry Street until his death.

Samuel was born on 16 February 1814 in Liverpool and came to Manchester with his father. He married first, a Liverpool girl, Margaret Sixsmith (1815-1839) in 1838, but she died, possibly in childbirth, the following year. He then married Mary Ann Burrows (1819-1864) in 1841 at the Collegiate Church, by which time he is living in Greenheys and working as a commission agent in partnership with Bernhardt Liebert. After Mary Ann Burrows died, he married Mary Cookson (1816-1892) in 1865.

He travelled widely visiting South America and Germany during his time with Liebert and dissolved the partnership in 1842 to set up on his own account. Although born a Jew, he converted to Christianity as many did in those days.

He started working in Blackfriars Street and worked with Robert Gardner, a Levant Merchant eventually succeeding him in his business, moving to Booth Street then Mosley Street with a warehouse in Portland Street. His trade was probably growing too quickly for he then had a purpose built warehouse constructed, which we all know today as Chepstow House.

Sam traded principally with China and India and became known as the Merchant Prince of Manchester. He was successful because he brought goods more quickly around the Cape of Good Hope in greater quantities than his competitors could.

By the mid 1850s he was a very rich man and therefore sought out a property that suited his status. He commissioned the build of Manley Hall just over the border from Chorlton Upon Medlock in the township of Withington (now Whalley Range). He spent vast amounts of money laying it out to his design, with a lake, fountains, planting many trees. Inside, he built a large collection of Old Master paintings.

Sam was no connoisseur, he employed William Agnew of Thomas Agnew and Sons, formed from the partnership of Agnew and Zanetti where we met Arthur Fitzwilliam Tate. William bought the pictures for his master, and Sam had the best, including, Venice from the Porch of Madonna Della Salute, and View on the River Meuse by JMW Turner and Chill October by J E Millais as well as works by Constable³.

Venice From The Porch Of Madonna Della Salute, Now in MOMA New York. Once in Whalley Range

He was a true Victorian businessman, disliking government intervention in industry, highlighting the speed of the telegraph service once the powers of Westminster got their hands on it.

Leeds Mercury 1 November 1870

However, Sam’s fall was a rapid as his rise. The opening of the Suez canal in 1869 meant that his competitors were now on a much firmer footing and by 1875 he was forced to sell the Hall and the treasures therein contained. The auction for the artworks and possessions lasted for nearly a month in March 1875 and the hall was bought by Ellis Lever (1833-1911) for £175,000 (£20.7m in 2021).

The wine cellar Morning Post 22 March 1875

Ellis was the son of James Lever, Rope and Twine Manufacturers of Bolton. The plan was to create a Winter Gardens at Manley, but disagreements over payments between members of the Winter Gardens Society meant that this fell through.

Over the next few years a great debate raged over what should be done with the Hall, there was even a suggestion of a necropolis, to be the Pere La Chaise of Manchester and during these years the people of Manchester visited the grounds en masse, enjoying the tranquility of the place – 15,000 attended one week in June, despite rain falling every day. That week the rhodadenra were in full bloom, and the Grenadier Guards played on the bandstand.

Sir Edward Lee, of the Alexandra Palace London was consulted and he saw no reason why the layout and treasures on offer should not be a success with the public, and the main difficulty would not be in attracting numbers, but keeping them away. The middle and upper classes would be supplied with the high class entertainment they required whilst instructive recreation could be supplied for the lower orders^.

It was then proposed that the City Art Gallery be sited at Manley, but objections came from the North side of Manchester that this would favour the affluent South of the City, who had easier access to the Park. In 1878 Ice skating was on offer, as the popularity of the park increased.

The biggest problem facing Manley, was that the Council, having embarked on spending vast amounts of money on a palace for themselves in the new Town Hall, were extremely reluctant to extend such luxuries to their unfortunate ratepayers, and though schemes for Art Galleries and Winter Gardens continued to be raised, a quiet note in the Manchester Courier of 15 August 1877 showed the Council’s thinking, it should be sold for building.

Samuel Mendel did briefly get back ownership of the Hall, paying £85,000 in 1879 (£10.8m in 2021) but this was not for long, as he was much less well off, and the appearance of a small classified advertisement in May 1884 showed that the Hall’s fate was sealed. Mills and Murgatroyd, responsible for many fine buildings in Manchester were complicit in the eventual demolition. The Hall and Park were offered jointly or together for sale.

After Manley Hall, Sam first moved to The Manor House at Chislehurst in Kent, but his funds were low and he died in poverty at Craven Lodge on Nightingale Road in Balham on 17 September 1884, with just £100 to his name. He does not appear to have died a bitter man, he spoke in the Parliamentary hearings in favour of the Manchester Ship Canal shortly before his death, saying it would bring great prosperity to Manchester.

Samuel had five children with Mary Ann Burrows. Elizabeth Mendel (1842-1907) married banker, Gilbert Ainslie and the couple lived in Cambridge, having three children.

Henry Leopold Mendel (1871-1910) married first, Mary Elizabeth MacLaren (1852-1874) and they had two children. Samuel (1872-1930) and Alice Mary (1874-1941). Sadly Mary Elizabeth died whilst having Alice Mary, and the two children went to live with their grandparents. Henry married once more to Fanny Nainby Flamell Hearsey in 1876 and then may have gone to America. He reappears in England in 1906 when he is remanded for attempting suicide, and fined £20. He died four years late on 11 August 1910 in Barnstaple, with £56 to his name.

Mary Ann Taylor Mendel (1845-1884) married Charles Egerton Ashworth of Egerton Hall. Mary kept some young birds in a cage they hung in their Droylsden residence and talked her husband into buying a gun in order to shoot any cats that may prowl on the creatures. On Monday 23 June 1884 she was tending her feathered charges when a cat appeared in the garden.

Immediately she shouted to her husband in the bedroom to fetch his pistol and he went to the bathroom to take aim, telling his wife to duck.

Unfortunately just as he fired, she raised her head and was felled instantly by a bullet. Several friends and the family doctor were able to testify that the couple were on the most affectionate terms. Summing up, the coroner stated that the circumstances were too lamentable to speak about and he was sure that everyone present heartily sympathised with Mr Ashworth in his sad affliction, whilst passing a verdict of Accidental Death.

So that’s alright then.

Clara Mendel (1847-1910) also married an Ashworth, this time Samuel Ashworth. She outlived her husband who died at his father in law’s residence at Chislehurst. She died aged 63 at the Hermitage in Atcham, Shropshire.

Finally Samuel Taylor Mendel (1848-1897) first took up in his father’ business and married Mary Brooks of Kendal (1847-1881) in 1870. Mary was the granddaughter of Ralph Orrell and niece of Alfred Orrell.

After her death he married Adelaide Higgins Clarke (1859-1938) and the couple settled in Buckinghamshire. Sadly in 1885 a few years after their marriage he became infatuated with 14 year old butcher’s daughter, Helen Sarah Line, lavishing her with gifts – gold rings, a silver match box, a gold pencil case and so on. He wrote her a letter telling her to follow him on a certain train, which was found by her mother, who forbad the girl to see Mendel.

Initially she refused his advances, saying she must wait until 16 or 18. However, one evening she met him whilst out walking with her sister and the three travelled to London, staying overnight in a coffee house, before travelling on to stay at East Cliff Cottage in Southwold for a week, returning to London where they were apprehended by the police. Helen and Samuel Mendel had stayed in one room in Southwold, whilst her sister occupied another. Mendel was sentenced to two concurrent sentences of hard labour for abduction and improper intimacy with a minor.

On release Samuel Mendel took up with a Mrs Lever and lived in Croydon, he died on 1 April 1895 at 5 St John’s Road, leaving only £1,595.

Fortunately the sins of the father were not visited upon the child, Adelaide Mendel lived on in comfort until 28 February 1938. Their father’s past was conveniently airbrushed and Olive Muriel Mary Mendel, their daughter, (1882-1965) married respectably, John Picton Bagge, Bt, The Fifth Baronet Bagge of Stradsett Hall.

Meanwhile, Manley Hall saw newbuild all around it, and as in the fate of many of the houses we look at it fell into great disrepair before being demolished sometime before 1915.

Let’s see some pictures:

¹ Claimed in the Nottingham Evening Post of 17 September 1884, the dates don’t add up though.

² Now the site of the Civil Justice Centre.

³ Agnew bought most of these back at the auction of Mendel’s collection, bidding £7,000 (£800,000 in 2021) for the Venice Turner in 1875, at the time, the highest price ever paid for one of his works.

^ Manchester Evening News, 10 June 1876.


Mendels Hotel Bridge Street

© Allan Russell 2021.


3 thoughts on “100 Halls Around Manchester Part 73: Manley Hall, Whalley Range

  1. Great resume re Sam Mendel’s life. I have all the info but I have never put it together. My great great grandparents are Samuel Ashworth and Clara Mendel. I see you have also done Egerton Hall the home of Edmund and Charlotte Ashworth, Samuel Ashworth’s parents. I have that to read.


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