Monday, 31 July 2017

On visiting Barlow Hall in 1887


“In rambling through Barlow Hall only a short time ago, we found a succession of tiny silent bedrooms, each opening into its neighbour, and each into a long narrow, rickety corridor.  

From the corridor we could see, through square bits of coloured glass, traces of a quaint timbered court yard and learnt that this was the oldest part of the house, and these bedrooms were probably used by the daughters of Alexander Barlow.”

For me this remains a pretty exciting if short tour of our oldest building.  Mrs Williamson had wandered through the hall sometime in 1887 by which time it had been the residences of William Cunliffe Brooks for over thirty years.

The hall had been the home of the Barlow family since the Middle Ages and there may have been a building on the site dating from that period, but the present half-timbered structure dates probably from the reign of Henry VIII. Little of the original structure was visible by 1848 when the Brooks family moved in.

Most of the timber work had been covered in plaster or hidden under ivy. The old great hall, which occupied most of the building and was open to the roof, had been divided to create two storeys, with the lower floor given over to three entertaining rooms.

But according to various observers William Cunliffe Brooks was keen not only to preserve the building but also to share his love of the hall.

This interest never appeared to have left him, and led Mrs C. Williamson to write in her Recollections of Fallowfield that his ‘love for old things is so great that every relic is sacred to him, and even mindful alterations are made in such close imitation of old, they look the real thing’.

It was a passion that  lead him to display a piece of the original timber which had been exposed after a fire in 1879, and our own Chorlton historian may well have been speaking from first-hand experience when he advised that ‘Mrs Brooks’s morning room is worthy of a visit, with its quaint old china, and the vestibule containing some fine old Furniture and an engraving of Wellington with his autograph’

Pictures; the coutyard in 1910 and the sitting room window which looks out onto the courtyard 1890-95 by S.H.Jones, from the Lloyd collection

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