100 Halls Around Manchester Part 96:  Mr Dickenson’s House, Market Street Lane.

We will continue our wander through Casson and Berry in 1741 and visit Mr Dickenson.

Palace Street the possible site of Mr Dickenson’s House

On the north side of Market Street Lane stood the last survivor of the Manchester Street Improvements Act of 1821 – The Palace Inn. The Act empowered the council to widen the thoroughfares. The legislation provided for fair compensation to be awarded to any individual whose business was affected, but some buildings had up to fifteen feet removed from their frontage, and were as a result totally demolished. Naturally a number of court cases arose from this as people demanded fair compensation.

Market Street Lane in 1821.

The Palace Inn had previously been known as Mr Dickenson’s House. This was the house in which in 1745 Bonny Prince Charlie was quartered. The house was the best in town, and befitting the Pretender. It was built of red brick and was large and comfortable inside. Infront there was a paved court with steps leading to the door.

John Dickenson (ca 1726-1810) who had the house when Prince Charles stayed, served as Boroughreeve of Manchester in 1749. In 1738 he was Lord of the Manor of Taxal and purchased four lime kilns there, maintaining a town house in Manchester. He sold the lime into Manchester. At the time the Peak Forest Canal had not been built so the lime had to be carried by horse to the customer. This involved over 85,000 horse loads being transported, carrying around 5,600 tons of lime per annum. He married Sarah Cheetham (1726-1780) of Mellor and they had one son and two daughters. Sarah Dickenson (d 1836) remained unmarried, Elizabeth Dickenson married a knight of the Order of Malta, Chevalier Giovanni Domenico Palombi in Taxal in 1791, and settled in Naples.

His son, also John (1757-1842) we met briefly before when he purchased Birch Hall¹. He was born in Taxal and married Mary Hamilton (1756-1816). Mary was the daughter of Charles Hamilton (1721-1771) and Mary Catherine Dufresne (d 1778)². She was highly educated and very well connected in Society. Queen Charlotte appointed her as Royal Governess, and in this role she had to maintain a defence against the amorous intentions of the future King George IV (1762-1830) who wrote to her on 25 May 1779, revealing the name of the lady whom he loved.

I now declare that my fair incognita is your dear dear dear Self…Your manners, your sentiments, the tender feelings of your heart, so totally coincide with my ideas, not to mention the many advantages you have in form & person over many other Ladies, that I not only highly esteem you, but even love you more than Words or ideas can express.

Miss Mary Hamilton from Mary Hamilton, Afterwards Mrs. John Dickenson: At Court and at home by Elizabeth & Florence Anson (1925), London: John Murray

The Prince wrote over 138 letters to her between April and December 1779. However, despite this she maintained a chaste relationship with her Royal admirer, chastising him for swearing and his many adventures with women. The correspondence continued until George met his first mistress, the actress, Mary Robinson. She was finally permitted to retire from Court in 1782 and became a member of the bluestocking circle, becoming friends with Frances Burney, and Samuel Johnson amongst others. She even saw Monsieur Lunardi, one of James Sadler’s rivals ascend in a balloon on 13 August 1784, although she reports that she had.

been made very sick by the horrid Smell of it. I was rejoiced to breathe even yẹ Air of yẹ Strand. in coming home I went into two Shops buying a Morng. Gown & Threads etc

Fortunately she was able to go shopping.

Mary’s diary, © University of Manchester Library

She married John Dickenson in 1785 – he had already asked once and been rejected in 1780 – and it was he who entered her social circle. The couple lived at Taxal and the Prebendal House near Leighton Buzzard which they purchased on June 30 1797. John was deeply in love with Mary and considered the greatest punishment he could suffer would be to be separated from the woman he adored. Mary’s friends clearly saw that she was of a higher social standing, calling her his better half.

The house suited both parties and they spent many years there, John spent his time in the noble sports of hunting shooting and coursing hares until they moved permanently to 32 Devonshire Place in London in November 1809, which was eminently more suitable for Mary’s social circle.

The Dickenson line appears to have died out at this point, Mary and John had one daughter, Louisa Mary Frances Dickenson (1787-1837) who married William Anson, the First Baronet Anson (1772-1847), a general in noted for his services in the Peninsular war. He became Baron Anson of Birch Hall in 1831. One of their children, George Henry Grenville Anson (1820-1898) became Rector of St James Birch Hall and then Archdeacon of Manchester from 1870-1890.

The Dickenson family had consolidated their fortune by marrying into the nobility. However by the end of the 18th Century they had left Manchester, forsaking it for the noble life they were able to purchase by marrying their wealth into families seeking funds from dowries. The Ansons maintained property at Birch, but leased it out to tenants. Their connections with Birch and Manchester can be read here.

John had sold off the part of the Birch Estate and lands in Rusholme, and today we remember him in Dickenson Road and Anson Road. His family continued the disposal selling off the more lands in 1873 so the Victoria Park Estate could be built.

After John left his house on Market Street, it was converted to an Inn. The building had been facetiously referred to as The Palace since 1745 and that became the name of the hostelry with mine host John Blease. It was the starting point for the London Coach, the Lord Nelson at 5am every morning. Mrs Linneaus Banks wrote how it survived those fifteen years since the Manchester Street Improvements Act in isolated dignity before being demolished in May 1838 with common stone warehouses for everyday merchandise. Having fallen into disrepair the previous year and lain empty ever since.

The Palace name survived until the coming of the Arndale Centre in Palace Square and Palace Street, but even that had faded into distant memory when in 1914 the Market Street Picture House was opened, by 1938 the folk of Manchester believed Palace Street was named for the Picture Palace³. The mansion once owned by John Dickenson and where Prince Charles Edward Stuart, was occupied by a cinema whose last presentation before demolition was Where are you going all naked in 1974.

© CinemaTreasures.org

Let’s see some pictures:

¹ He was so honoured with his visitor that he took the bed in which Charles had slept with him when he moved to Rusholme. It was sold around a century later.

² Mary was the niece of Sir William Hamilton who married Emma, the mistress of Lord Nelson. John Dickenson met her and wrote to Mary that her beauty was such that her portraits did not do her justice.

³ Manchester Guardian 9th May 1938.


A Booke of Olde Manchester & Salford, Alfred Darbyshire : Heywood 1887

Old Manchester: A Series of Views: J E Cornish, 1875

Views in Lithography of Old Halls in Manchester, Henry Gould James, 1821

The Manchester Man, Mrs G Linnaeus Banks, 1876

Derbyshire Miscellany Volume 20, Derbyshire Archeological Society.

Mary Hamilton and the Prince Of Wales

Manchester Library , John Dickenson Correspondence

© Allan Russell 2022.

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