One of my favourite places to visit and explore is the Goyt Valley and the ruins of Errwood Hall estate, located just a few miles north-west of Buxton. The museum collection contains many photographs of the Goyt Valley, a painting of Goyt’s Lane Shrine and even an object from the interior of Errwood Hall. Therefore for this blog, I thought that it would be interesting to use our collection and local history resources to take a closer look at Errwood Hall and explore how it has changed overtime.
Errwood Hall was the home of Samuel Grimshawe (1768-1851), a member of a merchanting family from Manchester. In 1832, Samuel purchased the 2,000 acre Errwood Estate and chose this location to construct his family home, Errwood Hall, around 1840. The estate was also home to a close-knit community of thirteen farming families, who were tenants to the Grimshawes. Following the decease of the last member of the Grimshawe family in 1930, the estate was purchased by Stockport Corporation to make way for Fernilee Reservoir. Sadly in 1934, the Hall along with around thirteen farms and cottages on the estate were demolished, with the company citing pollution as the reason why the estate’s buildings needed to be dismantled. Now all that remains of the Hall are ruins surrounded by rhododendrons, which can be visited today.
The designer of Errwood Hall was an Italian architect, Alexander Roos (1810-1881). He designed the Hall to be in an Italian villa style, with a central tower and chapel which formed the upper storey of an extension to the north. The lithograph from the museum collection (see above) was drawn by Roos in 1840, and reveals his original design for the Hall. From photographs of the Hall, the sketch is not that dissimilar to the building’s final form, with the main difference being the size of the fountain in the formal garden.
The exceptional part of the ruins is a large section of the southern wall, which faced the formal garden. The southern wall ruin stands to nearly the base of the first floor level and includes a door and three windows. In the centre of the ornamental garden was a fountain, a section of which can still be found near the Hall’s southern wall.
What did the interior of Errwood Hall look like? It can be hard to imagine the opulence of the house from walking across the foundations of the Hall’s rooms. However, an object from the museum collection can provide us with a snapshot of the Hall’s former splendour.
This bronze rose-shaped finial from a bannister rail of the Hall was donated to the museum in 2002, as part of the Bellhouse collection. The finial is certainly an interesting acquisition, as it is not one of the many items listed in Errwood Hall’s 1930 auction catalogue. Perhaps as the bannister rail was not an easily movable object, Mrs Bellhouse acquired a section of it following the auction sale or demolition of the Hall.
Along with the finial, photographs and auction catalogue, an article by a reporter on their visit to the Hall attests to how lavishly furnished the house originally was:
Internally this mansion is most magnificently furnished, not only with most of the modern luxuries which wealth can command, but also with many rare and costly works of art, the production of foreign continental lands, more especially Italy, whose holy city, magnificent Rome, has been brought under good contribution to provide some of the marvellous paintings, or splendid marble, which adorn the walls of this palatial home.A Visit to Errwood Hall, near Buxton, May 23rd 1883 (Courtesy of G. Hancock, ‘Goyt Valley Romance’, p.24)
Fifty years after this article, the Hall was demolished. With the building now being in the hands of nature it is well worth a visit to, before or after visiting the museum.
This week at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, we will be having a series of free Meet the Experts lunchtime talks: 12th – 15th of July at 1pm, as part of Buxton Fringe Festival. If you are interested in learning more about Errwood Hall, join Dr Catherine Parker Heath on Wednesday the 13th of July for her talk titled “Errwood Hall – An Augmented Reality”. The talk will focus on a new app that lets you explore the ruins in a new light! No need to book, just drop in.