Friday, 24 August 2018

The mystery of the old gate posts in Burford Road, .... and the house they called Denby Grange

Now, the two gateposts on Burford Road announce that the property beyond is Denby Grange, and anyone who lives in Whalley Range or Chorlton will know that this usually means one of those grand old houses dating back into the 19th century.

Denby Grange, 2018
Back then if you wanted to be seen as important you gave your house a name, which I suppose aped the great aristocratic palaces and set you apart from the mean terraced properties which were cheap and cheerful.

But as Rachel’s picture shows, the path up from the gatepost reveals a house built sometime in the mid 20th century and there rests the mystery.

I have yet to pinpoint when our modern property was built but I do now know that its predecessor was a large 12 roomed house, with a stable and dates from at least 1893.

It stood pretty much in splendid isolation beside an orchard and nursery owned by a Mrs Harriet Gregory which along with the trees included a large greenhouse.

Denby Grange, 1893
For those who marvel at the ease with which it was possible to call up the old Denby Grange, I have to say it was less magic and more just a matter of knowing where to look.

In this case that began with the street directories which offered up the name of James Howard, who was a Provisions Merchant and who also appeared in the Rate Books.

Tracking back through the rate books, showed that he bought the house in 1894 from an Edward Livingstone who was there in 1893.  Beyond that date it gets a little difficult to identify the house or an owner, which may mean it, had not yet been built.

A gate post ...... all that remains of Denby Grange
But given that we have the names of others who were on Burford Road in 1891 it should be possible to find them on the census for that year and make a guess about Denby Grange.

In the meantime we have the 1911 census which provides a wealth of information about Mr Howard.

So it is a start.

Coming up with a date for the end of Denby Grange has as yet proved elusive, but looking through the directories again for the years after 1911 will deliver the moment when the one house becomes two.

But that is for the future, which leaves me just to reflect that the story of Denby Grange will not start much before the 1890s and that back in 1854 the plot was just fields.

Location; Whalley Range

Picture; Denby Grange gate post, 2018 courtesy of Rachael Stevenson, and Burford Road in 1983 from the OS map of South Lancashire, courtesy of Digital Archives Association,

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