An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St. Helens, Lancashire

Part 6 (of 92 parts) - Sutton's Halls & Houses

Also See: Sherdley Estate  Researched & Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVII
An Illustrated History of Old Sutton in St.Helens
Part 6 (of 92 parts) - Sutton's Halls & Houses
An Illustrated History of
Old Sutton in St.Helens
Sutton’s Halls & Houses
Researched and Written by Stephen Wainwright ©MMXVII
This page is devoted to notable halls and houses within Sutton & Bold, most of which no longer exist. Also see the Sherdley estate page for details of Sherdley & Sutton Halls, Costeth House, Sutton Grange etc.

a) Bold Hall

On May 6th 1893, Henry Young the agent for Mrs. Harriet Wyatt, owner of the historic but dilapidated Bold Hall, sent out employment termination notices to dozens of estate employees. By that time, the Bold Hall estate was a shadow of its former self. Its connection with the Bold family had long been severed and in earlier years of the nineteenth century it had been owned by Polish royalty, by a cockfighting fanatic and by an eccentric Wigan cotton spinner who equated books with manure!

Bold Old Hall with bridge, twin gate piers and moat - see Sutton Bridges page for modern-day photos

Bold Old Hall with bridge, twin gate piers and moat

Bold Old Hall with bridge & moat

In 1848 the estate had consisted of almost 7000 acres with many tenant farmers. But in the year of its demise, it was down to 13 farms on 1500 acres of land that the Liverpool Mercury said was 'famous for its fertility and richness' (Liv. Merc. 8/5/1893). It had also become known for the minerals beneath its surface which had attracted the interest of a syndicate led by industrialist David Gamble and colliery proprietors. The sale of the land and subsequent demolition of the hall as part of the Bold Colliery development, was the end of a historic era that stretched back a remarkable 500 years.

Bold Hall was the home of the ancient family of Bold or Bolde, who settled there around the time of the Norman Conquest and ran the estate for hundreds of years. However when Peter Bold MP died in 1761 leaving three daughters but no son, it was the beginning of the end for the powerful family. In 1813 Peter Patten of the Warrington industrialists, who had previously married into the Bolds, took control of the estate. Upon his death in October 1819, it was inherited by his eldest daughter, Mary.

Another view of Bold Old Hall with its moat, which was drained soon after the hall was demolished in 1936

Another view of Bold Old Hall - the moat was drained in the late 1930s

Another view of Bold Old Hall

Bold Hall
An indication of the opulence of Bold Hall at that time was the cost of the damage done by the terrible thunderstorm of April 25th 1821. So much glass was smashed by hail which drove like nails into its windows, that it cost £800 to replace. In today's money that equates to around £30,000. On December 21st 1822, Mary married Polish nobleman Prince Sapicha in Florence and the royal couple took up residence at Bold Hall at the beginning of August 1823. However Mary only enjoyed life as a princess for two years, dying in Rome in December 1824.

The estate passed to Mary’s sister Dorothea, who on May 23rd 1820 had married
Henry Hoghton of Walton Hall near Preston. He added the name of Bold to his surname and in December 1835, upon the death of his father, became Sir Henry Bold Hoghton, baronet. Cockfighting was his hobby and he kept as many as 500 cocks within Bold Hall. A 'setter' was paid the remarkable salary of £600 per year to look after the birds. A dedicated cock-fighting room was created using an iron cradle that moved on a rail. Gambling stakes were thrown into wooden bowls and many thousands of pounds were said to have been won and lost.

Henry and Dorothea's son Henry made numerous unsuccessful attempts to sell off the estate during the 1850s, eventually selling it piecemeal. In 1861 Bold Hall and some estate farms totalling 1300 acres were sold to eccentric Wigan cotton merchant
William Whitacre Tipping for £120,000 (nb. in an 1870 court hearing it was said to have been upwards of £80,000). After being invited to buy what remained of the extensive library, after some books had been separately sold, Tipping reportedly said:
 I know nothing about books but I know something about muck and I will give muck {manure} price for them.
So over a thousand books, including a number of rare originals and handsomely bound volumes, were piled on a cart and then weighed and sold to Tipping for 8 to 10 shillings a ton, the then price of manure. Like his predecessor, Tipping loved cockfighting and spent much of his day playing cards, as well as visiting the Tipping Arms in Warrington Road. Rough in manners, Tipping was said to keep gold sovereigns within milldewed sacks within Bold Hall. He only lived in four rooms and allowed the mansion to get into a dilapidated state, with the exception of one room. This housed two full length Van Dyck portraits of Charles I and his Queen, which was a Royal gift to one of the Bolds, plus two Claudes and a 'Holy Family' painting by Rubens.

'Squire' Tipping, as he was locally known, died on March 10th 1889 and left what the Manchester Times said was a 'fortune of nearly half a million'. Many newspaper obituaries carried reports of Tipping's alleged eccentricities. His solicitors, however, responded that many were somewhat exaggerated. Tipping's only will had been made in 1843 and the bachelor had bequeathed all his estates to his mother, now deceased. His cousin Mrs. Harriet Wyatt of Hawley Parsonage and wife of a Hampshire clergyman, was Tipping's next of kin and so she inherited the Bold estate. Mrs. Wyatt never lived at the hall during her four years of ownership, probably because of its poor condition. Upon its sale, it was reported that the fine dining room with granite columns and four gilt cornices was in ruins with unglazed windows and rotting floor. The front door had been nailed up and the offices and stables had been dismantled and lacked windows and doors.

Two paintings of the opulent Bold Hall - the sign on the right of the second image is advertising a tenants' dinner

Two paintings of the opulent Bold Hall - the sign is advertising a tenants dinner

Two paintings of the opulent Bold Hall

There were actually two Bold Halls. When Peter Bold developed his estate in the early 18th century, he commissioned Venetian architect Giacomo (aka James) Leoni (1686 –1746) to design a magnificent new mansion. This was built in 1732 as a stone-columned, three-storey structure and the old hall - which the Liverpool Mercury of 1893 described as a ‘curious edifice of very ancient dates' - was then used as a farmhouse to the mansion. The track that connected the two halls was known as ‘ladies walk’, because of its popularity with the females who lived in the halls. Bold ‘Old’ Hall had been rebuilt in 1616 by Richard Bold and was only demolished in 1936, surviving the new hall by almost 40 years. Its moat was then drained and a house was built on the site. Incidentally there were two Peter Bolds and both served as Members of Parliament.

The farms on the estate included Bold Hall Demesne Farm which measured 318 acres and in 1849 a sale advertisement in the Liverpool Mercury said it was '…fine Land, thoroughly drained, newly fenced, and replete with recently erected Farm Buildings, of the most approved construction, with 6-horse power Steam Engine, Thrashing and Dressing Machines, Steaming Apparatus, &c.
' There was also a Moat House Farm of 186 acres, Lunts Heath Farm, Mill Green Farm, Bold Heath Farm, South Lane Farm, Tickles Farm, Cranshaw Hall Farm, Sydney Farm, Wheatacre Farm and Lane Ends Farm.

The exterior of the old stable wing at Bold Old Hall which was photographed by Frank Sheen in 1960

Exterior of the stable wing at Bold Old Hall pictured by Frank Sheen in 1960

Old stable wing at Bold Old Hall

There used to be an ancient wall that surrounded the estate. However this was taken down as much of the estate was divided into five lots and sold off. These became owned by alkali manufacturer John Marsh and Mary Stapleton and in April 1862 the pair sued one another over a right of way but came to a compromise.

The woods on the Bold estate in Bold and Burtonwood generated huge quantities of timber which were regularly sold by auction. An advert in the Liverpool Mercury of January 21st 1825 described 980 oak and 110 ash trees that were going to be auctioned at the Griffin Inn. In the following year, 1519 trees were auctioned from the Griffin. Adverts described a close proximity to good roads and the Sankey Canal and promised that 'great facilities are afforded to purchasers for a removal by land or water carriage'.
Here are a couple of 19th century descriptions of Bold Hall, the first was made in 1860:
 The hall stands on a gentle elevation commanding extensive scenery to the south, extending over a fine expanse of park to the distant hills of Cheshire; to the north and east it overlooks the pleasure grounds and the finely timbered north park with its groves of unrivalled oaks. It is a handsome, uniform, and very substantial edifice, adorned with fine stone columns and corresponding decorative dressings, designed and erected about 1732 under the superintendence of the eminent Italian architect Leoni.
This is the Liverpool Mercury's description from 1893:
 The hall stands in the midst of a cluster of massive oak trees said to be the growth of centuries and the finest in the county, and is reached by a winding road across a broad expanse of open land. It stands about two miles from St.Helens Junction Station, on the Liverpool and Manchester main line of the London and North-western Railway Company, and is a three-storeyed building, of fine proportions, adorned with massive columns.
Bold Hall’s stable range and its associated dwelling house, now farmhouse, still exist at Home Farm off Hall Lane. There’s also a walled (former kitchen) garden that was completed c.1844. The twin pillars (known as gate piers) and simple bridge that were situated by the old Bold Hall, also still survive. All are grade two listed buildings.

Some remains of Bold Hall with Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in the background photographed by Miss C.M. Fazackerley in the 1950s

Remains of Bold Hall in the 1950s in front of Fiddlers Ferry Power Station

Remains of Bold Hall in the 1950s

Farnworth Church was built by the Bolds and it has a chapel dedicated to the family, which contains a number of items that had originally been in Bold Hall. These include armorial funeral signs, featuring the Bold coat of arms, that were placed outside the gates of the hall on the death of the master or his wife. There is also a secret door in the chapel that used to be in the hall library and in the churchyard is an 18th century sun dial, which formerly stood in front of the hall.

Left: Bold Old Hall in 1936 prior to demolition; Right: Map of sites of former halls published in the St.Helens Newspaper in 1979

Bold Old Hall in 1936 prior to demolition and map of former halls

Map of sites of former halls

As an addendum to this article it’s interesting to note that a report appeared in the St.Helens Newspaper on October 3rd 1896 suggesting that the Bold Hall Estate could prove to be the site of a cotton industry. There had long been talk of cotton manufacture in St.Helens but interested parties had been deterred by the noxious vapours in the atmosphere emitted by the chemical industries. These were now on the wane and the new mining activities on the Bold Hall Estate would create a local supply of coal and water. The newspaper article went on to state that the new machinery used in the glass industry had greatly reduced opportunities for female workers, who could now be employed in a cotton works. It concluded with this statement: ‘Perhaps the day is not far distant when Bold will become the centre of a very important manufacturing community.’ This never happened and what remained of the Bold estate, comprising 1500 acres and nine farms, was put up for sale in October 1957.

b) St. Michael's House and Cromwell's Oak

Until Sutton Manor Colliery arrived early in the twentieth century, the locale was agricultural with hardly any buildings apart from farmhouses. An exception was the imposing St. Michael's House, located at the junction of Walkers Lane, Chapel Lane and Lea Green Road in Micklehead, which was built in Elizabethan times and had its own moat. It was also believed to have secret passageways that provided an escape route for priests given refuge from religious persecution.

St. Michaels House with Cromwell's Oak in the foreground surrounded by a white picket fence - Contributed by Frank Jones

St. Michaels House with white picket fence and Cromwell's Oak

St.Michaels House with Cromwell's Oak

St.Michaels House, St.Helens
In front of St. Michael's House enclosed in a white picket fence was the so-called Cromwell's Oak with a number of theories suggested as to its legendary significance. The tree is said to have been a tombstone above Oliver Cromwell's grave, that Cromwell's horse was buried there or that his horse was simply tethered to the tree when the New Model Army commander was in the district.

A somewhat less romantic suggestion was that the tree was simply planted to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837. Another folklore theory was that the oak was planted in commemoration of one of the house's previous squires, whose favourite hunting dog was fatally run over by a stage-coach there. A bottle of whisky was also said to have been placed amongst its roots when the oak was originally planted along with a manuscript detailing its history.

However the St.Helens Reporter gave what is likely to be a more authoritative account in its edition of March 17th 1939, when it stated that the tree had been planted by Olivia Rawlins, the wife of blue works owner Charles Rawlins. The newspaper said it was planted to commemorate either her wedding or her coming to the village, both of which occurred that year. It also stated that it was a bottle of wine and letters that had been placed under the tree and that a descendant of Mrs. Rawlins still paid for the tree to be kept in good condition.

Parts of St. Michael's House that are pictured above and right date back to the 13th century, with much of it built in 1530. It's said that John de Sutton lived in a house on this site in the reign of Edward I. Bold Hall Estates were the owners of St. Michael’s House during the 18th century, but the house was sold in 1848 to the Whitfield family. St. Michael’s House also had a farm, which in 1889 was advertising for auction 30 tons of clover hay. In that same year John H. Kearne moved into the house; however the partner in the Bold Manure Works was found dead at the White Hart Hotel in St.Helens in May 1890.

A gentleman farmer and prominent figure in St.Helens society called Francis Watmough also resided at St. Michael’s as did the Atherton family. Sutton Pottery accountant William Shearim - with wife Maria and designer/ draughtsman son Arnold - were resident during the early years of the 19th century. Private Arnold Shearim joined the Royal Fusiliers in November 1915 and went to fight in France, dying on July 1st 1919. Captain Roy Davidson lived in St. Michael’s House in the late 1930s and was for seven months during early 1939 the Chief ARP Warden for St.Helens. He is credited with having built up the organisation in the town in preparation for war.

Like much of the Sutton district, St. Michael’s House - which was also sometimes called Micklehead House - became afflicted by subsidence. It was sold to the National Coal Board in 1960 who as a condition of purchase undertook to repair and maintain the building. However, the historic building was demolished in early 1961. (Also see: Memories of Sutton Part 1 St. Michael's House & Cromwell's Oak by David Richardson)
c) Brook House
Brook House Sutton St.Helens
Also located within what these days we would refer to as Sutton Manor, was Brook House. Situated in Walkers Lane, its age is uncertain, although it was mentioned in the Manchester Mercury of February 23rd 1819 when the daughter of William Arstall of Brook House got married. The aforementioned Charles Rawlins and family lived for some years at the property and he appears to have named his blue works after it. Brook House was regularly featured in newspaper 'Dwellings To Let' advertisements during the 19th century and was described in the Liverpool Mercury of June 7th 1862 as a 'desirable residence' with:
 ...extensive Outbuildings, comprising coach-house, shippon, stable, greenhouse, piggeries, gardener's cottage and other conveniences, together with large garden tastefully laid out in lawn and shrubbery, and orchard well stocked with fruit trees in full bearing; also six statute acres of land...
Another classified advert in 1862 referred to the 'genteel' family residence at being at 'Sutton Top' and in some ads a brewery - sometimes called Brook Brewery - was offered to let. In 1864 William Roberts was residing in Brook House. On September 3rd 1912, St.Helens auctioneers J. B. & B. Leach sold at auction the deceased former inhabitant’s antique furniture by order of the estate's executor. This included a Jacobean oak sideboard and paintings by old masters. Captain F. J. West V.D. then took over the residency of Brook House. He was said to have been one of the original members of the celebrated shooting team of the St.Helens Volunteers. In 1915 West's eldest daughter Lydia (Dolly) married Lieutenant W. Garton Dixon of the Lancashire Hussars Imperial Yeomanry. In 1916 his youngest son Lieutenant H. West married Ada Royle, daughter of Samuel Royle, the Sutton grocer and councillor who then lived at Mill Lodge. Brook House then became the home of Sutton Manor colliery managers and was finally demolished in 1992-3.
d) Green End House
Green End House was located on Marshalls Cross Road just north of Robins Lane and near to modern-day St.Helens Hospital. For many years it was a Sutton landmark, represented on all old ordnance survey maps and on William Yates' 1786 map of Lancashire.

Green End House with Sherdley Colliery in the background - Contributed by Frank Jones

Green End House with Sherdley Colliery in the background

The House on Marshalls Cross Road

James Bromilow and family
James Bromilow and family
During later 19th century years when owned by the Hughes family, it was surrounded by industry with Sherdley Colliery on one side and Sutton Glass Works on the other. However, in 1832 when Mary Loftus moved her private boarding school from Mill Brook House, Eccleston to Green End House in Sutton, it was a country location with good transport links, just a mile from the station at St.Helens Junction.

In 1849, a Mrs. Musgrove advertised her school at Green End in the Liverpool Mercury, describing it as being in a 'pleasant and salubrious situation'. Before long the noise and smoke of the new glassworks and colliery would make it a less attractive location for her gentile young boarders.

Ironically, a previous occupier of Green End House was a St.Helens glassmaking pioneer, also connected with mining. James Bromilow was the second son of William, a founder of Bromilow, Foster & Co. Ltd., which owned several colleries in the St. Helens district. James established the St. Helens Crown Glass Company in 1826, along with Peter Greenall of the brewery family and the latter's brother-in-law, William Pilkington. At that time Pilkington was simply an investor in the window-making firm, pre-occupied with managing the family wine and spirit business in Church Street.

After manager John Bell left the glass company in 1828, Pilkington was forced to take over the reins and soon made it clear to Bromilow that he wasn't impressed with his bookkeeping. This led to his exit in January 1829 and within 12 months the Pilkingtons owned all the shares in the company and were on their way to riches. Not so for James Bromilow, however, as he then ran another glass factory with William West that went bankrupt.
e) Middlehurst House Farm
The historic buildings of the Sutton district have been erased from the landscape through the insidious effects of subsidence and a lack of attention to preservation by many twentieth century local authority administrations. Frank Bamber in 'Clog Clatters in Old Sutton' referred to it as "the borough council’s vandalism - there is no other name for it". However, some properties were demolished in the name of progress for the community's overall benefit and one such was Middlehurst House Farm.

James Bromilow and family
Middlehurst House Farm in Marshalls Cross Road
Build around 1650, the black and white cottage in Marshalls Cross Road was located in between the hospital and the Conservative Club in Peasley Cross. It became a St.Helens landmark for some 300 years and was used as a point of reference by both pigeon fanciers and airmen. Over the years, the house bore three different types of roof. Originally it was thatched but in the course of time it was replaced by a flag roof. However, a fire broke out because of a beam that was penetrating the chimney and when the fire brigade arrived they were forced to break the flags, which were afterwards replaced by slates.

The house had ten rooms, however, each were only seven feet high with thick old beams in their roofs. There was a large cellar and under it ran natural springs, which were used to keep the dairy cool when it was a working farm.

Farming ceased early in the twentieth century because of chemicals in the soil and the farm was taken over by the Sutton Oak Brick Company for brick making. The Hayes family were the last to farm the land and
Thomas Hayes returned as tenant in 1912 to live in the house. During WWII he was forbidden from repainting the cottage, as its distinctive black and white panelling showed up too clearly from the air.

Hughes family were the owners of the house and land and in the early 1950s, Michael Hughes-Young sold it to St. Helens Hospital nearby. They demolished the cottage in 1954 to pave the way for a hospital expansion that included two new wards, an operating theatre, physiotherapy department and an out-patients clinic. Half a century later the old hospital has gone to make way for a new £100 million state-of-the-art complex, which was given the royal seal of approval in June 2010 when the Duke of York made a visit and unveiled a plaque. Progress, like time, marches on.
Mainly sourced from an article published in the St.Helens Reporter on July 16th 1954
f) Ellam's House (a.k.a. ’Tripe Shaws’)

Ellam's House in Ellamsbridge Road near Edgeworth Street in Sutton was nicknamed Tripe Shaws

Ellam's House in Ellamsbridge Road in Sutton was nicknamed Tripe Shaws

Ellam's House a.k.a.Tripe Shaws

Ellam’s House was one of the oldest houses in Sutton, built in the early 1700s in what became Ellamsbridge Road. It was probably the home of 18th century landowner Henry Ellam and from the late 1890s to the late 1920s, it was known to Suttoners as 'Tripe Shaws'. There was a simple explanation for this as Ellam’s House was occupied by George and Mary Shaw who sold tripe and pigs' trotters! It was situated opposite Edgeworth Street and the Victoria Vaults pub, which was also known as the ‘Little Pig’.

Ellam’s was a farmhouse-type building with greyish-green outside walls that had been rendered in cement. It was quite a substantial-sized property, with a seven-foot fence at its front. The house had a large porch over its front door with a stone flagged floor and an apex roof. Along each inside wall were wooden form seats that were built in, with each capable of seating a dozen people. Perhaps their original purpose had been to seat farm workers at meal times?

Part of Ellam's House in Ellamsbridge Road in 1931- note the Victoria Vaults / Little Pig pub on the left

Part of Ellam's House in Ellamsbridge Road in 1931 with Little Pig pub on left

Part of Ellam's House shown in 1931

On Saturday nights, powerfully-built George Shaw would climb into his tripe trap that was pulled by his horse Charlie. He then travelled round Sutton visiting all the pubs and selling his tripe to the customers. Probably bartering one or two pints for himself with the landlords too! Shaw didn't have to travel far to get to the Victoria pub, however. This bore the nickname of 'The Little Pig' and was only across the road from Ellams House. Fletcher's abattoir had given rise to the pub's nickname and Shaw would have sourced his pigs' trotters from his neighbour.

At one time the Shaws had a young dog who drove the neighbours mad with its barking. So one Sutton wag wrote a poem called 'Tripe Shaws Pup':
At Ellams 'Ouse in Ellamsbridge Road Owd Tripe Shaw has a dog,
It’s only small and black and white, but jumps up and down like a frog.
You can see it there from first daylight, until it’s nearly dark,
If you can’t see it, you can certainly hear it, 'cause this bugger can’t half bark.
It’s tied up on some kind of rope, just behind 'owd Tripe Shaw’s shed,
And the only time the bugger shuts up is when the bugger’s being fed.
It has a pretty little face with a long and fluffy tail,
And it jumps for joy when 'owd George comes home after being on the ale.
Many years ago we had a man called "The Knocker Up",
We don’t need one now, this present day, we can rely on this bloody pup.
It might be better, after rabbits or rounding up some sheep,
I wish he’d take the bugger there, so then we’d get some sleep.
At Ellams 'Ouse in Ellamsbridge Road Owd Tripe Shaw has a dog,
It’s only small and black and white, but jumps up and down like a frog.
You can see it there from first daylight, until it’s nearly dark,
If you can’t see it, you can certainly hear it, 'cause this bugger can’t half bark.
It’s tied up on some kind of rope, just behind 'owd Tripe Shaw’s shed,
And the only time the bugger shuts up is when the bugger’s being fed.
It has a pretty little face with a long and fluffy tail,
And it jumps for joy when 'owd George comes home after being on the ale.
Many years ago we had a man called "The Knocker Up",
We don’t need one now, this present day, we can rely on this bloody pup.
It might be better, after rabbits or rounding up some sheep,
I wish he’d take the bugger there, so then we’d get some sleep.
Despite Ellam's House being one of the most historic buildings in Sutton, it was demolished around the middle of the twentieth century at a time when there was little attention to heritage and preservation.
g) Ravenhead House
The grade 2 listed Ravenhead House or Hall is the oldest property in the former Sutton township, dating back to around 1773. That was the year the British Cast Plate Glass Company began operating in Ravenhead. The mansion was built by industrialist John Mackay, who was a proprietor of the glassworks and influenced by the new Gothic style. However after his death in 1793, the new owner of Ravenhead House, Col. James Fraser who was Mackay's son-in-law, altered the building into the classical style.

Ravenhead House in Factory Row, Ravenhead which became offices for Pilkington's

Ravenhead House in Factory Row which became offices for Pilkington's

Ravenhead House in Factory Row

Robert Ridgeway of Ravenhead House
Robert Ridgeway, Ravenhead House
Fellow industrialist William Keates lived in the mansion for a few years during the 1830s. An advert in the Liverpool Mercury of January 23rd 1835 offered Ravenhead House to let, describing it as the 'capital and commodious MANSION, called RAVENHEAD HOUSE, with the Stables, Coach-houses, and other Outbuildings, and the Hot-houses, Green-house, Gardens, Lawns, Pleasure-grounds, and other Appurtenances thereunto adjoining and belonging, situate and being at Ravenhead, within Sutton. In the county of Lancaster, and now in the occupation of Mr. Keats, as Tenant thereof. The Dining-room is 27 feet long, and 18 feet wide; the Drawing-room is of the same dimensions, and the other apartments are equally good. The House is in complete repair, and the Gardens are in a high state of cultivation. These Premises are pleasantly situated, within one mile of St. Helen's, and three of Prescot, and form a most desirable Residence for a family of respectability'.

The Ravenhead House estate and lands within Sutton were considerable. In the Liverpool Mercury of March 15th 1839, an estate auction was advertised with the timber from 300 oak, ash, elm, alder, sycamore, willow, poplar, fir and chestnut trees available. Not as much timber as the Bold estate regularly auctioned, but still considerable.
James Lawrenson was then the tenant and later Sir Edward Sullivan, principal director of Ravenhead Glassworks, was resident. By the 1890s the house was rented by a man called Stanley who sublet the building as four separate apartments, with two additional houses at the rear that had formerly been used by coachmen.

In November 1895 St.Helens Corporation’s Medical Officer declared Ravenhead House to be in a dilapidated, filthy condition and unfit for human habitation. He told the Corporation’s Health Committee that water was entering most of the rooms and plaster was off the walls and so they ordered it to be closed. However the house had clearly been reopened by the turn of the 20th century, as tenant
Robert G. Ridgeway appeared in many newspapers nationwide. He provided testimony to a form of cod-liver oil called Scott's Emulsion, which he claimed had cured his catarrh. Glassmaker's Pilkington later took over Ravenhead House, using it as a works office for many years.
h) Mill House, Mill Brow
As one of Sutton’s historic houses, Mill House is unusual in that the Mill Brow property still exists, although radically changed. When its modernisation began in 1937/38, builder Wilf Twist of Thomas & Twist told his daughter Lily "Don't be fooled by its present appearance. It's a very old house that goes well back into the 1800s".

Mill House and the Cope Workshop pictured around 1910 with the remnants of the water mill in the foreground

Mill House and the Cope Workshop c.1910 with remnants of the water mill

Mill House and Cope Workshop c.1910

Although Mill House has been (and still is) a highly attractive property, its main claim for inclusion in this page concerns its historic associations. It was almost certainly the miller's house and originally inhabited by the Lamb family, who ran the nearby Sutton water and steam mills. It was said that Mill House was connected to the mill by a tunnel, but that is unproven. Romantic rumours of hidden chambers in Sherdley Park are also part of Sutton folklore but similarly unsubstantiated.

The Cope family at Mill House during 1929 diamond wedding celebrations - Contributed by Geoff Chisnall

The Cope family at Mill House during 1929 diamond wedding celebrations

The Cope family at Mill House in 1929

The Rose family briefly succeeded the Lambs as millers but by the 1890s their enterprise had closed. Mill House’s connection with corn milling was also severed, but not with industry. For many years the house was owned by craftsman William J. Cope, who was a renowned tent and marquee maker with his own workshop adjacent to his home. The remarkable photograph above was taken in the gardens of Mill House in September 1929 during the Cope's diamond wedding celebrations and features four generations of the family.

Charlotte Cope in front of Mill House at Mill Brow during the mid-1930s - Contributed by Geoff Chisnall

Charlotte Cope in front of Mill House at Mill Brow during the mid-1930s

Charlotte Cope in front of Mill House

William Cope was born in 1844 in Newnham in Gloucestershire, the product of an old West of England family who for generations had obtained a tough livelihood from the sea. Cope's eldest brother, Robert Cope, spent fifty years afloat and captained one of the first steamers ever built. Young William inherited the family's adventurous streak and ran away from home at the age of eight. Three years later he sailed as ship's boy on a brig that was taking out wooden huts to English soldiers fighting in the Crimea.

When back on shore, William began work at Worcester in the sheeting and tarpaulin department of the Gloucester, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway Co. In 1860 at the age of 16 he moved to London and became articled to tent makers Unsts of Edgeware Road. While working with the company, he helped to set up the International Flower Show at Kensington. William found himself delegated to hold an umbrella over the head of the future King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) to shelter him from the rain.

After relocating to Birmingham where he married his wife Charlotte in 1869, William moved to Sutton in 1872 charged with managing the sheeting sheds at St.Helens Junction. He was then living in Bold Road and he left the sheds in 1882, to begin his own business of tent and marquee makers. Cope was a keen sportsman and both promoted and played for the London and North Western Cricket Club of Sutton. In his youth he had been involved in bare-knuckle fighting and had even sparred with the legendary Tom Sayers, whose funeral in 1865 was said to have attracted 100,000 people.

a) Fighter Tom Sayers; b) Daily Mirror September 18th 1929; c) How Mill House in Mill Brow looks today

a) Tom Sayers; b) Daily Mirror 18/9/1929; c) How Mill House looks today

a) Fighter Tom Sayers; b) Daily Mirror 18/9/1929; c) Mill House today

Just when William and Charlotte Cope moved into Mill House is unclear. It was probably in the mid-1890s, although his family were resident elsewhere in 1901. For reasons unknown, Cope became the licensee of the Mill House Inn for a period from May 1889. William’s tent-making business was a family affair, which included his sons and brother Jesse. The latter lived at Mill House until his death in 1912 aged 62. Three years earlier when King Edward VII visited Knowsley Hall to inspect detachments of the Territorial Army, Lord Derby had ordered a tent from the Copes to accommodate a shooting party. Another celebrated customer was Lord Gerard who hired their marquees at Garswood Hall.

William Cope died at Mill House in 1933 aged 88, and his wife Charlotte died six years later aged 89. The family enterprise was continued by their sons until its closure in 1967. By the time of Charlotte’s death in 1939, work had at least begun on remodelling Mill House. Its orientation was reversed and bay windows and parquetry floors were added and a large sandstone cellar filled in.

William and Charlotte’s daughter
Clara Cope took over Mill House. She married Frank J. Houghton, the headmaster at Parr Mount School, and the couple lived in the property until the 1950s. During this period further refinement of the frontage of the old house took place. Now looking smaller and minus a defining chimney stack, it takes some studying of old photographs to discern it as the historic Mill House - the miller’s house of Sutton Leach.
Thanks to Geoff Chisnall, Harry Hickson & Lily Coffey for their assistance with this article
i) Leach Hall
The earliest known reference to Leach Hall - situated at the corner of Leach Lane and Gerards Lane - occurred in 1690 when John Yates sold the house to Hamlett Yate for the sum of £600 and an annual rent of £16. Nine years later Yate bought some of the nearby land from the Hollands of Sutton Hall. When Egerton Leigh of High Leigh and Manchester married Yate’s sister Ann in 1724, he was given Leach Hall as part of the marriage settlement. A surviving document states that the groom would receive ‘the Hamlett Yate situated in Sutton in the parish of Prescot commonly called Leach Hall’, and also the ‘waterwoods, underwoods and mines of cole’.

Sometimes Leach Hall was referred to as ‘Toad Leach Hall’, as in 1775, when the property was advertised in the Chester Chronicle. Offered for sale was the ‘capital messuage and tenement, called Toad-Leach-Hall’ as well as 37 acres of land then farmed by
Joseph Tickle. The estate was then sold to Edward Falkener, who sold it onto Michael Hughes of Sherdley Hall in 1800 for £2700. The tenant listed in the 1841 census is railway agent Sir Frederick James (Bart.), whose wife Elizabeth was the daughter of a very prominent Warrington cotton manufacturer. In the 1851 census Sutton Glassworks manager William Blinkhorn is resident at Leach Hall, but he soon vacated once his newly-built home at Waterdale House had been completed. Another notable tenant listed in the 1861 census is James Cross, the young Scottish engineer, who began working on the St.Helens Railway in 1854 at the age of just 25. From 1864 he ran the St.Helens Locomotive Works at St.Helens Junction, where as James Cross & Co., a number of steam locomotives were made.

In the 1871 census
William Roberts, the manager of Sutton Copper Works, was resident at Leach Hall with his 6 children and 3 servants. In November 1887 the Hall was advertised to let in the Liverpool Daily Post. It was claimed to have a ‘dining-room 33 by 15, drawing-room 19 x 15, smoking-room, and good kitchens on ground floor, six good bedrooms, large bathroom with fire-place, storeroom, &c. The outbuildings include coachhouse, stabling for three horses, harness-room, and washhouse.’ In August 1889 plans were made for Leach Hall to become the Dinorben Hotel, run by James Wood, licensee of the nearby Engine and Tender. However for reasons which are presently unclear, the proposals were withdrawn.

Another distinguished resident of Leach Hall was
George Broom, who was the St Helens borough surveyor for about 25 years. In 1901 he was living at the hall with wife Marian and their three children.
Leach Hall map
1905 map - note lane off Leach Lane from which Leach
Hall photo was taken and proximity to sheeting sheds
The above photograph of the ivy-covered Leach Hall was taken from the lane that runs off Leach Lane (which is on the left behind the front hedge) and which separated the Hall from Leach Cottage (see below). The photo shows the house entrance on its south side and it looks towards the Liverpool (left) to Manchester (right) railway embankment. The picture also looks down towards the start of Gerrards Lane and in the foreground at the side of the tree, there is a glimpse of the original railway bridge arch. The photo was on the front of a postcard sent in 1907 by 21-year-old Edward Rowlands to his sister Elizabeth. Ted lived in Powell Street and was employed at the LMSR General Store and Sheeting Works in Penlake, some 250 yards away from Leach Hall.

In June 1915 the London Gazette reported that stockbroker
Ernest Pilkington Ainsworth of Leach Hall had a bankruptcy receiving order made against him. After WW1 the Sherdley Estate began to be broken up and following the death of his wife Edith Jane Thompson (née Jackson) in 1932, John Greaves Thompson purchased Leach Hall, moving in with his daughter Alice. J. G. Thompson (as he liked to be known) was the son of a very prominent Blackburn family, and had qualified first as a mining surveyor, then as a certified mine manager. He managed collieries in the Bolton area before taking up the position of manager of the Collins Green Colliery in the very late 1890s.

During his period in mining, Thompson took over the role of agent for Collins Green as well as Bold Colliery, while living at Bank House Farm in Bold Road, situated about 300 yards on the opposite side from Burtonwood Brewery and the Bold mine. Thompson became renowned for his role in the lengthy Choral Eucharist dispute with Rev. Colegrove at All Saints church in Sutton during the 1930s, which was followed in detail by the national press. His wife Edith came from a very prominent Preston family, her father being a manufacturer of paper and it has been said that she provided land in Sutton for the construction of a chapel. The couple’s son
Thomas Arkwright Thompson was born in 1900, and became a mining engineer working at Sutton Manor Colliery and upon nationalisation, was the Group Mechanical Engineer for Sutton Manor and Bold collieries.
The Hall at 73 Leach Lane still exists and is pictured above, photographed in 2015. However Leach Hall is now somewhat different to how Harry Hickson remembers it:
 The actual Hall looked lovely from the outside in the '40s, longer on the front (in Leach Lane), than now. It was covered in ivy, with 'generous windows', and had a left sweeping drive in front, which went up to the south side entrance and then to the stables/ coach house at the rear, with lovely rhododendrons along its edge. I am pretty sure the house suffered from some subsidence damage in the early 1950s and so was reduced in size.
The above photograph shows Leach Cottage, which gate to gate was about 40 yards south from Leach Hall. It was built about 1750 and may have originally been part of the hall, perhaps housing a coachman in its early days or it could have simply been a farmhouse. During the 1940s and early 1950s, two separate families occupied Leach Cottage. The Marsh family resided at the rear, and the related Owen's occupied the front. Leach Cottage is believed to have been demolished in the late 1950s.
The above article has been co-written and researched with Harry Hickson
Next:  Part 7)  Dr. Henry Baker Bates
Stephen Wainwright
This website has been written and researched and many images photographed by myself, Stephen Wainwright, the Sutton Beauty & Heritage site owner. Individuals from all over the world have also kindly contributed their own photographs. If you wish to reuse any image, please contact me first as permission may be needed from the copyright owner. High resolution versions of many pictures can also be supplied at no charge. Please also contact me if you can provide any further information or photographs concerning Sutton, St.Helens. You might also consider contributing your recollections of Sutton for the series of Memories pages. Sutton Beauty & Heritage strives for factual accuracy at all times. Do also get in touch if you believe that there are any errors. I respond quickly to emails and if you haven't had a response within twelve hours, check your junk mail folder or resend your message. Thank you! SRW
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