100 Halls Around Manchester Part 91 : Hunt’s Bank Hall, Manchester

Halls Menu

Hunt’s Bank today runs alongside Victoria Station, past the new Stoller Hall and the Arena down to Victoria Street.

In medieval times the Irk was a pure sparkling stream, noted for its eels. Long Millgate was a winding street alongside the river, the small houses having gardens down to the waters edge. The warden and fellows of Chethams college had fishing rights from Ashley Lane to Hunt’s Bank, where, at the Irk, there was a small bridge over the river. Even up to the 1820s it was possible to fish in the clear waters. Proctor Richard Wright in Memories of Manchester recounts how he would swim with his friends in the Irwell and fish for eels with his hands.

Hunt’s Bank was a key place in Manchester. The 1720 Act of Parliament creating the Mersey & Irwell Navigation noted that it started at Liverpool and ended at a place named Hunt’s Bank in Manchester.

The area changed rapidly with the coming of Victoria and Exchange Stations and a visitor from those times would not recognise the place, even the Irk hides under Victoria Station.

Hunt’s Bank Hall which stood near the bridge was the home of the Hunt family. The Hunts of Hunt Hall were one of the oldest families of Manchester and owned considerable properties in the area. A deed of 8 November 1422 by Thomas De La Warre mentions a Hunts Hull (hill).

Margaret Byrom¹ who was alive in 1541 was the third daughter of Ralph Byrom (1441-1524). She married Richard Hunt (d ca 1530) of Hunt Hall. Although the Hunts were in Manchester until the 17th Century no trace of their Hall remains, it is only remembered in the name Hunt’s Bank. The family was closely intermarried with the Byroms and both families were involved in cotton dyeing.

In the early 1700s the Hall was inhabited by the Clowes family. Interestingly the Chethams Society in 1866 Remains Historical and Literary discuss a Mr Clowes House, stating that it is now the Manchester and Leeds Railway Station. The Palatine Buildings which stood once between the river and Chethams College also contained a Clowes Building, which was in the middle of the structure and served as the offices of the Manchester and Leeds Railway company and was inhabited around 1840 by the possible architect of the first Manchester Victoria Station building, Leigh Hall (1812-1869). It is possible that the site of Hunts Bank Hall is one of these two locations. On balance I suspect it occupied the site of the original station building.

Hunts Bank Hall was a tall mansion alongside the Irk. It formed a semi enclosed courtyard, with large formal gardens to the top of the house. We will return to these gardens later². At the rear of the gardens was a gravel walk and pallisade at each end of which was a summerhouse. The whole terrace was reached by a stone staircase. At the front of the house was an enclosed court which in one corner held four necessaries³. As well as that there were stables, a coach house, a granary a clock tower and a little distance away was a small house built by William Clowes shortly before the death of his father in law Miles Neild.

William Clowes was the fourth son of was a wealthy Manchester landowner, Samuel Clowes of Broughton Hall. William married Anne Neild around 1738. His daughter, Anne (b 1743) married John Peploe Birch at the Collegiate Church in Manchester.

(possibly) William Clowes

John Peploe Birch was the son of Bishop Peploe who we met at Bradshaw Hall, there was an existing connection between the Birch and Clowes family as Samuel’s daughter and William’s sister, Anne Clowes was married to Samuel Birch of Ardwick. John Peploe Birch had taken on the Birch name as a condition of Samuel Birch’s will, of which he was the chief beneficiary.

That William Clowes was a wealthy man is set demonstrated in the fact that the dowry he supplied on his daughter Ann’s wedding in 1764 was some £50,000 (£10m in 2022).

I’ll let you be the judge of her beauty:

Anne Peploe Birch – George Romney 1777 © Phoenix Museum

On top of the dowry, William settled over 500 acres of land in Manchester and the surrounding area, including 20 houses, and a pub, The Dog Tavern. Daddy was rich, mummy good looking and he got a pub, what more could a boy want.

William Clowes became mayor of Manchester in 1764 and the following year his son in law became an alderman, alongside Joshua Marriot. William died in 1772 and was buried at the Collegiate Church, at this time John and Ann moved into one half of Hunts Bank Hall whilst her cousin Richard Clowes (1735-1804) and his wife Dorothy Livesay (d 1823) lived in the other half.

The last days of Hunts Bank Hall and its decline were outlined in a letter to the Hereford Journal on Wednesday 17 January 1849. I think it tells the tale clearly enough

These Peploes, mindful of early associations, intermarried with the family of Clowes, of Hunts Bank, Manchester. The last representative of this ancient family were co-heiresses, maiden ladies, and they died probably about twenty years ago. The paternal mansion was a noble structure of the era of Charles the Second, It remained in all its pristine grandeur until a comparatively recent period, when it was converted into offices in connection with the Manchester and Leeds Railway, and finally it was razed to give place to the present Manchester railway station which occupies its site. When I had the pleasure a year ago of inspecting the relics in Weobley Church, I felt great interest in these monuments to the families of Birch Peploe and Clowes. I was truly astonished to find names with which I had been so long familiar as peculiar to Manchester, so honourably recognised in a distant province

We can see Messrs Clowes house on the 1755 plan by Casson and Berry. It clearly shows the staircase leading up to the double front door – one for each Clowes family. It is a very handsome and symmetrical 17th century house with elaborate railings enclosing the shared front court, and a copy of this map hung for many years in the hall way at Garnstone in Herefordshire, the Peploe Birch’s residence in later years.

Garnstone. Built 1806, demolished 1959 © Lost Heritage

Hunts Bank was not an easy house to manage. When the estate had been split up after Miles Nield’s death in 1737 the rights of way had been only vaguely endorsed. Around 1796 Richard Clowes threatened to build a new road from the coal shed and garden to his half of the property, thus completely blocking access to John Peploe Birch’s half of the house (this seems a mite unchristian for a man who was a fellow of the Collegiate Church and whose brother was the Reverend John Clowes of Eccles).

Numerous irate letters were written and when Richard Clowes’ widow Dorothy wrote her will in expressing a hope that the two halves of the mansion might one day be re-united. In fact the dispute was sorted the following year to the Peploe’s favour at which point it was sold to Dorothy Clowes’s heir. Dorothy herself died on 23 September 1823. Two Miss Clowes were the last inhabitants of Hunts Bank Hall and it was advertised and sold by auction in lots during the summer of 1843. Finally it was taken down for the erection of Manchester’s Victoria Station – initially called Hunts Bank Station – and very soon the River Irk was bricked over altogether.

In 1791 the first stone of the Manchester Workhouse was laid on the slopes behind Hunt’s Bank House, and no longer could the area be called exclusive. Indeed the whole of Manchester was rapidly becoming industrialised. Richard Clowes decided to lease out his half of the Hunts Bank property and build himself another elsewhere, John Peploe Birch followed suit moving to Garnstone in Herefordshire, wintering at their London residence in Mayfair. Hunts Bank and its surrounding land was auctioned off in 1841.

Let’s see a picture:

Hunt’s Bank Hall, aka Mr Clowe’s residence © Chetham’s Library

¹ One of her brothers George had a daughter Margaret who was one of the victims of Witchcraft and Doctor Dee at Cleworth Hall

² Next time. Up up and away!!

³ Toilets


Memories of Manchester Streets, Richard Wright : Sutcliffe, 1874.

Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester Vol 59 : Chetham Society, 1862.

The Peploe Family

Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester Vol 68 : Chetham Society, 1866.

© Allan Russell 2022.


4 thoughts on “100 Halls Around Manchester Part 91 : Hunt’s Bank Hall, Manchester

  1. I was born at home at number 2 Chirk street in collyhurst manchester in 1953 I have been looking for a map showing this street do you know if one is available?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s