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The Lost Houses of Derbyshire – Glossop Hall

The Lost Houses of Derbyshire – Glossop Hall

The Glossop Hall that was demolished in 1958-59 was an unlovely house of titanic proportions, once set in a spectacular wooded park. Unlovely it may have been, but it had an interesting history and was itself at least the third house on the site, although it probably included portions of the fabric of at least one of its predecessors.

The manorial estate of Glossop passed at the Dissolution from the Abbey of Basingwerk to the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury & Waterford, of whom George, the 6th Earl had the dubious fortune to have married Bess of Hardwick, who spent much of his fortune building prodigy houses like Worksop Manor and Hardwick. At this stage we have no knowledge if there was a manor house at Glossop, especially as all the families mentioned so far were firmly seated elsewhere.

This situation appears to have continued until the death of the 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, who left a crop of daughters but no sons, amongst whom his estates were parcelled out. Much of the Derbyshire land went to Lady Alathea Talbot who in 1606 married Thomas Howard, a grandson of the Attainted 4th Duke of Norfolk, who went by one of his subsidiary titles, the Earl of Arundel, although Charles II made his son Earl of Norfolk, and his grand-son had the Dukedom restored to him by reversal of the Act of Attainder.

The couple’s son Henry Frederick Howard, a Catholic, like all his family, was fairly prolific, producing at least five sons, of whom the youngest was Bernard, (1641-1717) who actually lived at Glossop and in all probability built there a new house on rolling parkland west of Old Glossop. From his time there long survived a chimney-piece dated 1672 and a priest’s hole, which survived later rebuilding. His son also Bernard (1674-1713) married a lady with a house situated in a less climatically inclement part of England, and moved out in 1712, settling a lease for life on his cousin Lady Philippa Howard, a daughter of the 6th Duke of Norfolk. This was because her husband, Ralph Standish of Standish, near Wigan, was a younger son and they thus needed a house.

Thus the couple with their three sons and three daughters settled at Glossop, but clearly wanted a more modern house, so began to replace or rebuild Bernard Howard’s Jacobean house in 1729-31. Work stopped in the latter year, probably with the house mostly complete, when Lady Philippa died, leaving Ralph with a single surviving child, a daughter, Cecilia, born in 1699 and by this time married to William Towneley of Towneley Hall, near Burnley and living away from home. He continued to live part of the time at the house but on his death in 1755 aged 84, the house and its vast moorland estates reverted to the main Howard line in the person of Henry Howard, (1713-1787) who resumed using the house, but only as a shooting box in the season.

At this stage, the house itself  bore the name Royle Hall after the ancient name of the pastures west and south of the old village on which it had been built. A sketch of it taken in the later 18th century shows a three bay house with a hipped roof, a single bay extension to the south and another to the north, but much lower and probably the small domestic (Catholic) chapel suggests that the house started off as a simple William-and-Mary (that is, rather old fashioned for its date) house of two storeys and attics.

In 1827 the diarist James Butterworth visited the area and wrote:

‘At a small distance from the village stands an ancient building called Royle Hall, but now named Glossop Hall. It serves as a retreat during the shooting season, there being plenty of game here; Round it are planted large firs, and in front a very extensive hill is covered with firs  of many years growth, through which are pleasant roads.’

And by the 1780s the house was only permanently inhabited by the rather aristocratic agent Charles Calvert with the estate bailiff Thomas Shaw inhabiting the service wing. Calvert had moved on by 1797, however, when the role was taken over by Matthew Ellison, who first re-named the house Glossop Hall.

The Ellisons were a Staffordshire family and Matthew had three sons, one, Francis, adopted, and four daughters. Whilst the eldest, Thomas sired a long line of Glossop solicitors, and Frank founded a mill in the town, later living at Park Hall, Michael succeeded as agent at the Hall and he by his son, Michael Joseph Ellison. Meanwhile, one of the daughters, Mary, had married Joseph Hadfield of Lees Hall nearby and their son was Matthew Ellison Hadfield, of whom more anon.

Bernard Edward FitzAlan-Howard was in occasional residence in 1815 when he succeeded a distant cousin as 12th Duke of Norfolk. At first, having inherited the house, he extended and remodelled it to the designs of London based family architect Robert Abraham (1774-1850). This consisted of extending northwards a further five bays, the extension to include a new, grander, staircase, but it was done in matching style, complete with attic dormers and banding between the storeys and of small limestone ashlars with millstone grit dressings. Abraham also provided a fine new pedimented stable block set around a courtyard, to the west of the house, embellished with a Wren-like tower and walling replete with rusticated piers topped with ball finials.

On the Duke’s death in 1842, the estate went to his second son, Lord Edward FitzAlan-Howard, later (1869) created 1st Lord Howard of Glossop. Not satisfied with the house his father had created, he decided to embellish the whole starting in 1850, and this time employing his agent’s cousin, Matthew Ellison Hadfield (1812-1885) as architect.

Hadfield had been articled to Woodhead and Hurst of Sheffield before working for P F Robinson in London. He returned to Sheffield to set up in practice in 1832, taken John Grey Weightman as partner. One of their early works is the parish church at Matlock Bath and another is the Catholic church of All Saints at Glossop for, like their masters, the Ellisons and Hadfields were devout Catholics. Two years later he built the Town Hall, followed by the Market Hall and the handsome railway station with its Howard lion, a number of other commercial buildings and a small number of domestic properties were also designed by him over the years, including his own residence in the town. Hadfield designed a large number of Catholic churches, too, for Lord Howard was keen to spearhead a great Catholic revival in the vast area of his estate and beyond. To his credit stand St. Charles Borromeo, at Hadfield (1858) – burial place of quite a large number of Lord Howard’s family in the 19th century – two in Manchester (St. Chad, Cheetham Hill of 1847 and St. Mary, Mulberry Street of the following year), and the particularly satisfying St. Mary, Hallam built in 1850. He also designed Salford’s Catholic cathedral and much of the early Victorian commercial heart of Sheffield.

To Glossop Hall he added a rather overlarge three storey and three by three bay residential block of the SE angle, and rebuilt the chapel at the NE end in heroic style complete with a space-rocket campanile which looked for all the world as if it had slipped across the Irish sea from somewhere like Tara. His client essentially wanted a lot more than the size, cost or the site of the existing building could allow, and the result was the rambling inchoate house of later years. It was however, set in splendidly designed grounds, almost certainly the work of Edward Milner (1819-1884) mainly re-modelled before the rebuilding of the house. Milner was later to design the park at Buxton. To the east, a series of massive terraces led up to the entrance, whilst the private garden and lawns were to the south, where an impressive conservatory by Messengers of Loughborough was added.

Francis, 2nd Lord Howard succeeded in 1883 and about two decades later called in the Arts-and-Crafts architect John Douglas of Chester to make alterations on the recommendation of the 1st Duke of Westminster, but the family made increasingly little use of the house, even during the shooting season, after the Great War and when Lord Francis died in 1924, his son and successor (another Bernard) found himself saddled with death duties and decided to sell the house and the 9,110 acre estate.

The immediate Parkland, however, was purchased ‘with rare public spirit’ by the Glossop Borough Council and remains an attractive park (called Manor Park) to this day, having been added to the National Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II in 2001. The house, not wholly surprisingly in that un-optimistic age, failed to sell and was instead let as a school becoming the Kingsmoor Residential School, moving in at the beginning of May, 1927, and after a period of uncertainty, flourished until the post-war period, when numbers fell and in 1953 the school left the hall and moved to new premises in Marple, Cheshire.

Thereafter, no tenant could be found, and the site was eventually sold to a developer, being finally demolished in 1958-59. One of Hadfield’s lodges survives as a house at the top end of Norfolk Street where it meets Talbot Road, and the house site is covered with the 1950s bungalows of Kingsmoor, Park and Hall Closes.


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