Nor will I be able to accurately date the moment the picture was taken.
But one of the girls will be the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Ellen Lomax who took on the tenancy of Hough End Hall sometime in 1895.
The Lomax family had lived in the Hall from 1849 when they had taken over both hall and the farm on the death of Henry Jackson and Samuel had moved in on the death of his uncle in 1895.
None of our three look to be much older than twelve and possibly younger which would place them in the garden sometime at the beginning of the last century.
Of course it is impossible to know which of the three was Ethel Mary, or if one of them was actually her sister Constance Amy.
But it is a start and has reawakened my interest in the hall which dates back to 1596.*
It had been the family home of the Mosley’s till the mid 18th century when it was sold to the Egerton’s who in turn rented it out to tenant farmers.
In the 1840s it was occupied by Henry Jackson who farmed 220 acres beyond the eastern boundary of the township.
It was still an impressive sight, leading one observer in 1853 to write that its
“ ivy-covered walls, its clustered chimneys and its gabled roof, present a picturesque and pleasing appearance.”**
Nor did the ivy or its more functional purpose as a farm obscure its classic Elizabethan design.
It was built of brick with three stories. The centre piece was flanked by a bay or arm at each end and a little advance bay in the centre which gave it the characteristic E shape.***
The large communal areas were later partitioned off into smaller rooms and the census of 1911 describes Hough End Hall as having eleven rooms.****
It was best reached along the tree lined lane from the Barlow Moor Lane. The traveller would have a clear view of the hall from some distance away but just as they reached the last few yards the full majesty would be revealed.
A low stone wall either side of the gate gave way to a large open area beyond which partly hidden by hedges and trees stood the main building. Someone, perhaps even Henry Jackson himself had grown the hedge into an arch above the gate.
Nor could we escape its presence back in 1847.
Walking from Park Brow down Nell Lane and standing on the low bridge over the Brook, the Hall would be clearly visible.
Not that this would have been the most impressive of views. This northern side was partly hidden by farm buildings at the back and side.
And I guess to see it at its best was to stand directly infront of the place.
So there is lots more here to explore, including more on Henry Jackson and the Lomas family and as they say wait and watch this space.
Pictures; Hough End Hall in the 19th century from the Lloyd collection, and the collections of Rita Bishop and Philip Lloyd
*Hough End Hall, http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Hough%20End%20Hall
***The most detailed description of the Hall can be found in the Victoria County History, A History of the County of Lancaster, Volume 4, Townships; Withington 1911 pages 288-293 and available on online at www.british-history.ac.uk
****A ground floor plan exists from 1938