Sir George Warren, the Bulkeley and Vernon families and their contribution to Poynton history Acknowledgements
I should like to acknowledge the help given by the present Lord Vernon, Mrs. Caroline Stacey, Peter De Figueiredo, Ken Williams, Timothy Lingard and Sotheby's, particularly in tracing the pictures of the Park and Halls and locally for information, George Henderson, Roy Dudley, Les Cawley, and Margaret Darlington and the staffs of Manchester Central Library and Cheshire County Libraries. I am grateful to Poynton Parish Council for a grant which helped to improve the quality and the number of pictures and for information on Poynton Park. I should like to thank the following for permission to reproduce illustrations:
Mr Roy Bleek
Cheshire Libraries & Museums
Cheshire Record Office
Illustrated London News
Manchester Central Library - Copies of The Connoisseur and Illustrated London News for A and G
Manchester Polytechnic Library
Mrs. Caroline Stacey
Chapter 1. The Warrens, Downes and Warren Bulkeleys and their Residences
The First Poynton Hall
Pedigree of Warrens, Bulkeleys and Vernons, 1737 to present day
The Second Poynton Hall
Sir George Warren's contribution to Poynton History
The Warren Bulkeleys
Chapter 2. The Vernon Family and the Towers
The 4th & 5th Lord Vernons & the end of Poynton Hall
The 6th Lord Vernon
The 7th,8th & 9th Lord Vernons
1. The Warrens, Downes and Warren Bulkeleys and their Residences
Although neither Poynton nor Worth are mentioned in the Domesday Survey in 1086, there are references as early as 1289 to a manor at Poynton which was then in the possession of Sir Richard De Eton of Stockport. Worth is referred to in early mediaeval records as part of the township of Poynton. It seems best to describe the story of these two manors from the time when Sir George Warren succeeded in 1737 after a long line of members of the Warren family from the mid 14th century as Lords of the manor of Poynton. Sir George was perhaps the Warren who made the greatest impact on Poynton life and extended his park to the largest area, as well as making a start in the thorough commercial exploitation of his coal mines which turned Poynton into a predominantly mining village. The manor of Worth in the 15th century passed into the hands of the Downes family of Pott Shrigley, Worth always being the lesser of their two possessions. John Downes held the manor from 1748 until 1764 and was then succeeded by his brother Peter until April 1791. In Earwaker's History of East Cheshire may be found an account of these two families together with very full family trees. There are some records of the Downes Family in Cheshire Record Office (DDS) and a major archive relating to the Vernon family which includes some records they inherited from the Warrens (DVE). The family tree here reproduced is based on Earwaker's History of East Cheshire and a Vernon pedigree from Sudbury Hall. This account attempts not to duplicate much material which is in articles in Poynton Local History Society's Newsletters already printed. All these can be obtained still from Poynton Library.
The First Poynton Hall
Sir George's father, Edward, and his predecessors lived in Poynton Hall and it appears there had been a manor house on this site since mediaeval times. Sir George was born in 1734 at Millgate Hall, Stockport, so perhaps Poynton Hall was occupied only intermittently by his father at this time. The hall which Sir George inherited in 1737 was built between 1548 and 1552 in the Tudor black and white style using local oak and subsequently added to. An oil painting on canvas was produced by Thomas Stringer of the Hall, probably in the 1760s, which is reproduced in John Harris's The Artist and the Country House. This is in the possession of Mrs Caroline Stacey of London who is the first cousin of the present Lord Vernon. The original is about 2'6" x 2' and was found in an attic by her when she stayed in her childhood at Sudbury Hall in a neglected state. It was restored by her father and had obviously been removed from Poynton at some time before the Hall was leased to other owners and is not included in the notice of a sale of pictures which took place in 1822 (see later). She has kindly given permission to reproduce this unique picture. The artist also painted Oulton Park in 1774 and High Legh Hall in 1781.
The house is clearly shown set between two towers with a bridge over a protective ditch which kept out the deer shown in the foreground from the grounds of the hall. These towers are identical with those which appear in later pictures and eventually in late 19th century photographs before being demolished finally in 1950. On the right of the group of buildings is the original 16th century house. The central portion with the tall Jacobean entrance tower dates probably from the early 17th century and is contemporary with the towers, while the three storied large addition on the left is probably early Georgian. I am much indebted to Peter De Figueiredo, Conservation Officer to Macclesfield Borough Council, for the judgement about dates from architectural style and for allowing me to see parts of the book written by him and Julian Treuherz entitled Cheshire Country Houses.
Evidently the approach road between the towers started from the old Hazel Grove to Macclesfield road before it was straightened and placed alongside the dam which Sir George created as part of his grandiose landscaping described later. The spacious avenue which had been planted with common lime trees on either side of the approach road, probably, from their appearance now dating from about 300 years ago, can be traced on the first large scale estate map in Cheshire Record Office, dated 1770, and the 1793 map here reproduced. I am grateful to Ken Williams of MBC Planning Department for his full technical report on these trees. Lime avenues of similar age have survived in the "Wilderness" at Adlington Hall and on the south side of Lyme Hall. Interestingly these trees can be traced on many subsequent maps, gradually disappearing through old age and in order to allow a good vista from the drive of the later hall at a different site. Out of the original 27 on the 1770 map, in the 1930s there were eight left and now I think there still remain five. These have huge trunks, some partially hollow and damaged by vandals with a great growth of twigs and accumulated fallen wood near their boles which is thought to have been caused by pollarding in their early life. This was fashionable at the time they were planted. They are probably the oldest trees in Poynton, and were frequently commented on by visiting naturalists in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 1770 map was commissioned from William Tunnicliff to show the extent of Sir George's domain after his improvements to the park. The map also shows the original chapel which was built close to the hall on the south side, the ornamental gardens of more than an acre and pool with an island which is still there. It was called King Pool on later maps, and is now in private possession of a house reached from South Park Road. Full details of this map and its accompanying survey are given in Newsletter 8 along with the later surveys of 1793 and 1849. At some time, probably in the first half of the 18th century, an ice house was built near the Hall to provide ice for household use in the summer and refrigeration near also to two lakes originally as shown on the map from which ice was taken in the winter. This has recently been excavated revealing two passages and a fine brick ice chamber in the shape of a bee hive. It is hoped to preserve it for the enjoyment of the people of Poynton.
The Second Poynton Hall
In May 1758 Sir George, defeating his rival in courtship, the Duke of Bridgewater, married Jane Revel, the very rich heiress of Thomas Revel of Fetcham, Surrey, who brought him £300,000. Whitworth's Manchester Magazine reports his marriage to Miss Revel, a Lady of fine accomplishments, with a fortune of £300,000: and on Wednesday last they arrived at his seat in Stockport where he was congratulated by the whole town, by Bonfires, Illuminations, Ringing of Bells for a week etc. After giving him a daughter, Elizabeth Harrier, in 1759 she unfortunately died in 1761 and Sir George in 1764 married Frances, daughter of Sir Cecil Bisshopp, who was a Maid of Honour to the Queen. In 1769 George Romney was commissioned to paint a picture described later as one of his early masterpieces) which shows Sir George, in his indigo cloak and Knight of the Bath insignia, his second wife and his daughter, then 10 years old with the Colosseum at Rome in the background. The picture for many years was in the hands of the Bulkeley and Vernon families but was sold by Lord Vernon in 1919 for 6600 guineas and again in 1932. Fortunately it was traced by an enquiry put into Country Life as having passed after 1932 into the hands of the Mountbatten family and now to Lady Pamela the wife of David Hicks. Its delicate colours can be seen in the setting of their drawing room. This addition to Sir George's wealth enabled him to put large resources into improving his estate. He evidently decided (with perhaps his wife having strong views on the subject) that the assortment of large buildings forming the existing hall were best abandoned, though the Towers should be kept and made into a sort of mock castle linked by a wall with a gateway at the centre as shown on the 1793 map. On the different site to the North East, as shown in the map, he had built, probably in the early 1760s, an entirely new L-shaped house of classical design to suit the current fashion, with two wings connected by a tall octagonal staircase tower with a lantern containing a bell on top described by G.Y. Osborne in his Sketch of the Parish of Prestbury in 1840 as a handsome mansion of the Ionic order. Watson in his book on the Earls of Warren, 1782, says Edward Warren built a new home in Poynton Park, which being decayed was pulled down by Sir George. The site of the new hall took it further from the routes to the coal mines from the main road; Sir George planned to exploit his mineral resources more vigorously. He laid out the existing park more in keeping with a rich man's estate of that time in the manner of 'Capability' Brown, creating a large lake of 22 acres alongside the new turnpike road. This had been improved by taking a less winding route than the one from Hazel Grove via Dog Hill Green over the new dam which was built to contain the lake. This too improved the cartage of the coal to Stockport. A new Lodge, South Lodge, (still there in altered form) was built to take the park road to the new Hall over a new bridge which crossed the stream which supplied the lake on the south side (demolished in the 1960s). The roads were freshly laid out by the famous road engineer John Metcalf (Blind Jack of Knaresborough) to link this main entrance also with the Towers and the lodges built on the eastern side of the enlarged park, named Cawley and German, which are shown on the 1793 map. This extended the park more or less to where the Middlewood road runs now, and to the collieries at Hockley. New gardens were planted near the hall with shrubberies and trees, some of which still survive and the parks called Lower, Upper and Clumber were enormously increased in area to over 1500 acres, more than half the total estate. When, as described in the Torrington Diaries, in 1790 the area was visited by John Byng who was a strong critic of the Capability Brown type of estate, he noted Sir George Warren with no taste has opened all the country around. Whereas to skew a park to advantage, that should be of a different complexion. What is called the Towers near the house are a sad attempt at something Gothic; and contains a dairy etc. Ail the trees in the park are of paltry growth (despite the avenue and other trees shown on the I 770 map which must still have been there. Sir George's new plantings would not yet have grown mature . On his way to Lyme Hall he disliked the fact that the park gate was locked and he had to detour by a coal pit engine at Hockley. The original hall at the Towers is only shown on the maps of 1770 and 1793 as two towers joined by a narrow building and a gateway like a fort. Behind only the relics of the hall remained, one part evidently being used as a dairy for the hall.
There exist several pictures in this period which show the new hall and lake, some also showing the new bridge and remaining remodelled towers. The earliest, also reproduced in Harris's book and attributed to Herbert Pugh dated 1778 is an oil painting on canvas, now in the possession of Lord Vernon, which shows the view of the park and hall in the distance from the south end of the lake near the little bridge with a party boarding a large rowing boat and a sailing boat in the distance. This painting was turned into an engraving dated 1778 by J. Basire which was included in Watson's book on the Warrens. Some artistic licence may have been used to remove some of the lime trees still surviving on the 1793 map so as to improve the clarity of the view. More informative about the hall is the very large engraving also by Basire, c.1782, from a water colour painting over pencil by Jones which came up for sale in 1989 and has now returned to Poynton. This shows a closer view of the hall and the 'Gothic' towers with the new gateway linking them. There are now clocks in each of the towers. The new trees are shown as of fair size. In 1795 J. Aikin describes the hall as an elegant piece of architecture of the Ionic order decorated with beautiful pleasure grounds and a fine piece of water. He publishes a picture from a similar angle to the Jones picture showing the hall with no bell tower (was it removed for repair?) and one of the towers with no clock. The drawing was by E. Dayes, engraved by Pollard. Another view exists, being reproduced in the Centenary Souvenir Programme for the Poynton Show, 1985, which shows the hall again from this viewpoint and with no tower. It shows much activity with horses, cattle, prancing deer, people, two boats, dogs by the lake and a carriage and four speeding up the drive to the hall. Was it perhaps contemporary with the 1795 picture? A further similar view appears in J.P. Neale's book Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen Vol.2, 1829, drawn by Neale, engraved by J.C. Verrall. He says the hall occupies a distinguished rank for beauty of design and elegance of completion.
Sir George Warren's Contribution to Poynton History
In 1791 after much domineering behaviour over his neighbour Edward Downes, Sir George used part of his new wealth to purchase the Manor of Worth for £24,000, thus adding over 500 acres to his estate. This enabled him to control the collieries of both estates under unified management. Worth Hall, the former manor house of the Downes Family became merely a farm house. It is now being restored as three residences after being the club house for the Davenport Golf Club for many years. Though totally altered inside the exterior in stone is still worthy of preservation as a listed building. In 1551 it was referred to as the capital messuage of Worth with orchards and gardens belonging thereto and the mylne of Worth. Although Sir George made Poynton Hall and his new park his principal residence he was also like his predecessors Lord of the Manor and Barony of Stockport and was thus responsible for holding the court leet (an obsolescent form of local government of which records survive from 1791) and also owned the market rights. As holder of the advowson of the rectory of Stockport Parish he had some responsibility for church affairs. At a time of rapid expansion of population due to industrialisation he exchanged some of his lands with some glebelands of the Rector (then John Watson who held office from 1769-1783) so as to make it possible for the former church lands to be leased for building. With the aid of Sir George's patronage Watson produced a large number of learned works on theological and antiquarian matters including his book Memoirs of the ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey and their descendants to the present time. It is said by Heginbotham in his history of Stockport that the award of the advowson was to give Watson time and opportunity to write this book which was intended to prove the honourable descent of the Warrens of Poynton. Sir George also played an important part in public life, being MP for Lancaster 1758-80 and 1786-96. He was knighted in 1761 for his public services.
At Poynton Sir George's impact on local life can be assessed in a number of ways - his management of his estate as a profitable enterprise with revenues from tenants, coalmining, agricultural and forestry activities; his responsibilities for his tenants large and small; his support for the community, for example its institutions such as the church. His colliery activities through his agent Nathaniel Wright are fully described in Chapter 4. He certainly went further than his predecessors in exploiting his considerable mineral wealth helped by the advent of steam pumping engines and new forms of transport. He allowed coal to be brought through his main park to a new coal yard established in 1789 on London Road near the present exit of South Park Road, now a crescent shaped County Council road materials depot. Because of physical difficulties coal output however was relatively small, c.27,000 tons in 1795 bringing in £2750 as rental to Sir George.
Some leases have survived concerning tenants on the estate which show how the old conditions of manorial tenure, which required services in kind at times of harvest, changed gradually into money payments. In 1732, Edward Warren leased Mellor's Farm (which included land near the present junction of Clumber Road and Dickens Lane - see my article on Pickfords and Paynton in Newsletter 2) to James Pickford at a rent of 13s 4d per annum to be employed in the husbandry and improvement thereof subject to Edward's right to remove the timber and minerals and to carry on his sport of hawking, hunting, coursing, shooting, fishing and fowling. Ancient duties were included for the tenant every year of doing one day's harrowing with a double harrow, 4 days' reaping of corn at harvest (much more wheat, oats and barley was then grown with marl being used extensively as fertiliser as well as lime), 3 hens at Christmas, 1 day mucking, watching in Poynton Park, working at the mill weirs and ditches with all other customary suits, services, boons and heriots (payments such as the best beast when a tenant died .
All corn had to be ground at Poynton Mill on Chester Road where it crosses Norbury Brook but deriving its water from Poynton Brook by a long lade which can still be traced (see article in Newsletter 4). The tenant was responsible for proper maintenance of his property, gates ditches, stiles and fences. All these matters were regulated by the Court Baron held by the lord to which each tenant owed service and misbehaviour was punished by fines. Similar conditions existed in leases often for three lives which have survived for Edward Downes' estate in Worth at the same period when duties of ploughing, harrowing, reaping, and sometimes shearing of sheep are included. In 1 743 a later lease of the larger Dale House Farm was at £60 per annum with 6d payable instead of services and 6d as a heriot, ie money payments were now coming in. Both the Warrens and Downes engaged in the sale of timber from their various woodlands for example in the Downes Papers at Cheshire Record Office John Downes sold in 1748 667 oaks and 2 ash trees (half of these in Worth) to John Leigh of Wilmslow, timber merchant and in 1750 136 oaks, 72 ash and poplar were sold in Worth to Thomas Lomas of Bollington, a tanner.
Sir George and other prominent landowners were interested in various canal ventures as well as road improvements, aiming to provide a direct link for their coal and other products to their best markets at Macclesfield and Stockport. Sir George's scheme in 1765 planned with the aid of Charles Roe, Macclesfield's great silk and later copper manufacturer to link Stockport via Poynton, Macclesfield and Knutsford to the Weaver Navigation was defeated by the machinations of the Duke of Bridgewater in the House of Lords, who wanted no rivals to his Bridgewater Canal system. However, Sir George had managed to steal the object of the Duke's courtship when he married Jane Revel in 1758. In the 1790s he enlisted the aid of Matthew Pickford of the famous firm of carriers along the London road through Poynton, who lived at Birches Farm, the largest in Poynton, and was classed as second only to Sir George among local gentry. They tried to secure a canal link, this time only to Stockport with two canals. One was to link the collieries of Poynton and Worth, the other, linked to the first by an inclined plane tramway, was planned to cross Norbury Moor and make a direct line to the mills in Stockport. This failed like many other attempts for a Macclesfield Canal which did not succeed until late in the canal building era in 1831.
Sir George several times enlarged his park causing the removal of some farmers and cottagers as well as closing access to Poynton Moor and other open commons and greens where rights of pasture and getting turf had long existed. This policy of self-aggrandisement caused great dissatisfaction in the village as is shown by the Bishop's Visitation report of 1804. The population has been much lessened by the major part of the principal farms being annexed to the Park in the time of Sir George Warren, but there were still several respectable tradesmen and farmers. Sir George's assistance to the church, where he was responsible for the appointment of the minister, was not very forthcoming see my article in Newsletter 5 on its history and Parish Registers which have been transcribed . He provided new pews for his family and servants in the old church near to the site of Poynton Hall but in mid 18th century only carried out minimum repairs. Nor were the inhabitants keen to pay their share. However, in 1789 Sir George paid for the erection of the first chapel more centrally placed on the present site and outside his enlarged park which came right up to the present Chester road. The population of Poynton and Worth in 1801 at the first census was only 620 so large attendances were unlikely. The minister was responsible for both Poynton and Norbury chapels, the latter jointly with the Leghs of Lyme until 1829. Sir George's second marriage which was childless does not seem to have been comfortable as his wife sued him in 1772 for separation and maintenance unsuccessfully on grounds of cruelty. She died in 1804.
The Warren Bulkeleys
Sir George died in 1801. His body lay in state at Poynton and was then carried in a funeral procession over a mile long to Stockport Parish Church, attended by the tenantry on horseback and many others on foot. His only daughter, Elizabeth Harriet, erected a mural tablet by Westmacott on the North Wall of the chancel. She had married in 1777 the Rt. Hon. Thomas James Bulkeley, Baron Bulkeley of Beaumaris and Viscount Bulkeley of Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland, an eminent man in North Wales, Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire and hereditary Constable of Beaumaris Castle. Lord Bulkeley after succeeding to Poynton and Stockport Manors received the Royal permission to assume the name and arms of the Warren family, which Elizabeth was most anxious to perpetuate. He took a great interest in Stockport, for example promoting the rebuilding of the parish church. He made frequent visits to Poynton staying at Poynton Hall. He was responsible for erecting in 1815 the first block of industrial housing for his colliery and estate workers with a shop incorporated at its centre and 12 cottages at Worth Clough, sufficiently substantial in recent times to be renovated and continue in use. He continued the lease of the colliery rights to Nathaniel Wright and despite difficulties in the early use of steam engines output increased to c.50,000 tons by the 1820s. When Lord Bulkeley died childless in 1822 aged 70 his titles became extinct.
Shortly after this when Lady Warren Bulkeley had succeeded there was a sale in March 1823 of some of his effects in Poynton Hall - books, prints, pictures, plate and "superb" furniture at the Crescent Inn. Lady Warren Bulkeley continued to be very bountiful towards the charities of Poynton and Stockport, for example granting land on which St. Thomas's Church was built and being much interested in education, she supported the National School in Stockport with land. She died in 1826 and in her will, besides provision for the poor in Stockport and a further £1200 to keep up six almshouses there, she gave sums of £1000 for Poynton and £500 for Worth to found a charity for the benefit of the poor. The story of this charity which still continues is told in Newsletter 7 with the aid of its records now preserved in Cheshire Record Office.
The 4th and 5th Lord Vernons and the End of Poynton Hall
In 1826 the estates of Poynton and Stockport passed to Lady Warren Bulkeley's niece Frances Maria Warren, Lady Vernon, the only daughter of Sir John Borlase Warren, MP, Admiral of the Fleet, of Stapleford, Notts, who had died in 1822. Frances Maria had married George Charles Venables Vernon, 4th Baron Vemon of Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire in 1802. It was thus through this marriage into the Vernon Family, combined with the lack of male heirs to both Sir George Warren and Lord Warren Bulkeley that Poynton came into the hands of a long established Derbyshire family with its own large Hall and estate. This had important consequences for Poynton and its Hall. Lady Warren Bulkeley had in her will prescribed that Lady Vernon who acquired her estates should add the name of Warren to her name and for a time the Vernons adopted the name of Warren Vernon instead of Venables Vernon. Lady Warren Vernon also supported many good causes, it being said she spent over £8000 a year on charity, just about the total profits from the lease of the colliery rights in 1831 on a sale of over 86,000 tons. For example she gave a large part of the site on which Stockport Infirmary stands and helped with the building and also helped St. Thomas's School, Stockport Grammar School and Norbury Church. While the Bulkeleys had continued to lease the mining rights to Nathaniel Wright and his son John, the 4th Lord Vernon until his death in 1835 brought an important change by taking direct charge of the collieries as well as his estate through a full time agent W.H. Fisher until 1832 and then from 1834 Thomas Ashworth. With the aid of the Macclesfield Canal, opened in 1831, with which Lady Bulkeley had co-operated, they successfully expanded output to over 180,000 tons by 1836/7.
Thomas Ashworth was an experienced entrepreneur in the fimily textile trade who being a Quaker had a deep concern for the welfare of his work force as well as the good of his master. In 1829 there were great rejoicings in the village because for the first time for a hundred years a son and heir (Augustus Henry, later the 6th Lord Vernon) had been born (in Rome) to the holders of the Poynton estate. The family often spent their winters in Italy using their 150 ton yacht schooner the Harlequin. An ox was roasted to provide a dinner for 150 gentry and tenants at the Crescent Inn, where the former coal yard stood, and processions and feasts for the mining and estate families with tea and buns for the Sunday school children. In a comment on the burial of the 4th Lord Vernon at Sudbury in 1835 the Stockport Advertiser noted his munificent and considerate charities to the poor and public institutions in all parts of the country with which he was connected.
In 1836 George John Warren succeeded to the Poynton estate as the 5th Lord Vernon, though he never lived for long in Poynton. He adopted the name of Warren only and spent most of his time in Italy becoming a great Dante scholar. After the death of Lady Vernon at Poynton Hall in 1837 the hall was never used again as a family residence and the faithful servants there, whose average age of service was 45 years in 1834, must have honourably retired. The decline of Sir George Warren's classical mansion is quickly told. G.Y. Osborne, referred to earlier, says it is now (in 1840) environed by coal wharfs (which he considers as an outrage to nature). The colliers amounting in this and adjacent works to 1900 had an altercation with Mr. Ashworth, the agent, last year which seemed for a time to threaten a serious outbreak. The hall is tenanted by the Misses Garratt and the park is a ley for cattle. There had been advertisements for letting the park for grazing earlier in the 1830s. There was a further sale of furniture, a carriage, farming stock and greyhounds in 1838. In 1841 at the census John Webster, a farmer and Thomas Wilson, a civil engineer with their families and servants resided there. In the 1843 Directory the Hall is inhabited by Samuel Christy, hat manufacturer of Stockport, Thomas Ashworth's brother-in-law, until about 1848 when he had to remove to London to carry out his duties as MP for Newcastle under Lyme. After this some of the buildings were turned into colliery cottages and used by colliery management staff Thomas Batty and James Wood in 1849 until sadly they were pulled down as not worth maintaining and had disappeared entirely by the time of the survey for the first 1:2500 large scale Ordnance Survey map in 1871. Some of the trees near the site still survive. Meanwhile a new mansion on the original site incorporating the towers was being built - see later.
The altercation with the miners in Poynton was part of the first moves locally towards miners' unions in the 1830s and became associated with the period of the Chartist riots in the industrial areas in the early 1840s. Lord Vernon was appealed to to prevent reduction in wages but he relied on Thomas Ashworth's judgment of what to do and allowed the importation of many Staffordshire miners (Poynton wages were higher) to keep the large labour force, now over 1000, working see Chapter 10 . Fortunately increased prosperity and the advent of improved transport for coal brought by the Manchester and Birmingham Railway Co's new line from Stockport to Macclesfield, which included a branch to the Poynton Collieries by negotiation with Lord Vernon, meant that wages could be higher. Under the regime of Ashworth and with the approval of Lord Vernon miners were far better paid and housed than in other colliery areas. They also enjoyed more help in case of poverty, old age or accident, and for education and welfare. Ashworth built up a good relationship with the colliery community. For example the first church school was opened in 1838 (the commemorative plaque can still be seen on the original rectangular building now part of Poynton Folk Centre). To house the influx of miners and their families much new housing was built for modest rents, the largest block being Long Row in 1844 with 25 cottages with LV carved on the centre cottage. Much other building took place in Poynton Green and along Park Lane. At the same time Ashworth made great efforts to improve the agricultural output by providing tiles for drainage and improving methods. Most of the former park land was turned into new farms, for example Towers Farm and Park House Farm distinguished on the map by the straight lines of their fences compared to the wandering mediaeval hedges. In his 1846 annual report Ashworth noted that the Methodists had erected a neat Sunday School in Park Lane by subscription from the public in which many poor children whose parents worked in the collieries would be educated (it started off with a day school to teach children to read) and urged Lord Vernon to furnish them with a library and give a subscription to support this school Say £20 a year as a means of promoting a good feeling of Christian kindness and as an act of charity. Records do not show whether Lord Vernon did this, but when the first Primitive Methodist Church was built in London Road Lord Vernon leased them the land cheaply and later in 1879 leased the land for the chapel in Clumber Road, now the Band Centre, allowing the plans to be drawn in his office. Amounts of c.£150 per annum were given to support the church schools and £200 to the church in the 1850s and £60 to other charities, and £200-£300 to charities in the 1860s. In 1850 in honour of the coming of age of her son, Lady Vernon added buildings for girls which doubled the size of the Vernon School. The family showed great interest in the schools particularly visiting the girls' school.
In 1854 with the help of Lord Vernon who gave the land and agreed to maintain the buildings six almshouses were opened near the church which are still in use, for elderly colliery workers. The cost of the building was born partly by a further gift but also by substantial subscriptions from workmen and officials. He also supported the erection of a newsroom and library on London Road North (now converted into cottages) in the same year, the main subscriptions coming from John Hadwen, then colliery manager. 1d a month at first was deducted from miners' wages to maintain the stock of books and journals.
Poynton was the principal site for the celebrations described with pictures in the Illustrated London News of 9 Feb 1850, probably because the largest number of employees were involved there in the valuable Poynton and Worth Collieries. The paper comments The improved value of the property has happily been accomplished by a corresponding advance in the character of the workmen employed. The Poynton colliers (over 1000 were then employed) are a very superior class of men to their fellow labourers in some other parts of the kingdom. Lord Vernon has provided them with comfortable brick built cottages and the day's labour is only eight hours. The average wage is about 24s a week though some of the more industrious frequently earn 30s. Augustus Henry Vernon whose coming of age was being celebrated and his brother the Hon W. Vernon stayed at Barlow Fold, the large improved house of Thomas Ashworth and on the Friday morning cannon were fired and 2500 tenants and dependants of the family assembled near the colliery offices within sight of the house being rebuilt as a mansion (see the buildings with flags flying on the two towers in the picture), formed up into groups of different trades and marched past Poynton Hall. The groups were as follows: A party of tenant farmers on horseback, preceded by a banner inscribed with 'Speed the Plough'; a band of music from Stockport; blacksmiths walking three abreast; a second banner, bearing the motto 'Huzza for old Ned' (the soubriquet given to all colliery engines); a party of millwrights and engineers (ie men who looked after engines); old colliers two and two; miners and others employed in Lord Vernon's collieries, six abreast; a second band of music composed of 18 colliers from the estate with brass instruments; Macclesfield pitmen in white frocks and green caps, bearing an immense flag inscribed on one side with 'Long live the Honourable Augustus Henry Vernon' and upon the other, the Warren Vernon Arms with the motto Vernon Semper Viret (Vernon always thrives); a third band of music from Macclesfield; salesmen and masons; railwaymen, tipplers and banksmen; agricultural labourers and colliery carters; women and schoolchildren etc. The Victorian hierarchy is interesting! The party assembled in a field near Barlow Fold and then marched past hustings on which Augustus Henry and his entourage were assembled in Ashworth's garden. Hansom Gill, a veteran collier, read an address of congratulation; Thomas Ashworth and Mr. White representing the 5th Lord Vernon, who because of ill health had to spend the winter in Italy, made speeches of thanks. The party then adjourned to the schools where with the aid of an additional temporary building they feasted in two batches on ¾lb of fine beef each from two oxen called Samson and Goliath specially reared by Ashworth for the purpose, one pound of bread and a quart of strong ale. The plates they had used as well as the cups and saucers specially made by Minton were given to the guests at the end. An inscribed plate with a coat of arms and green floral design is preserved in Poynton Library together with a large oval dish which lists in four panels the names of all the various estates in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Nomhumberland which were owned by the family. In the evening a rustic ball took place in the schoolroom. A great banquet was also held in Stockport.
In 1850 also the ancient manorial and market rights in Stockport held by the Vernons were sold to the new municipal Borough for £22,500 and a magnificent gift made of 14 acres of land to be constructed later into Vernon Park. The Park was opened in 1858 following another banquet. Much of the estates, chief rents and church preferments were sold for £120,000. The Vernons now had very much less influence in Stockport.
In 1856 Lord Vernon shrewdly commissioned an eminent colliery engineer and manager, George Clementson Greenwell, to report on the state and future reserves of coal and management. As Chapter 5 shows, this led to his appointment as Colliery Manager and Agent at Poynton when difficulties arose following the retirement of Ashworth in 1857. A salary of £750 a year attracted him to the post in 1862 and he, with his son and grandson who succeeded him in the same office, made full and careful reports to the Vernons who retained direct control. By their most professional and mainly successful operations they earned large sums in profit for their masters, for example over £42,000 in 1873, £20,000 in 1874 and £20,000 in 1875 (see my article in Newsletter 10).
The 6th Lord Vernon
In 1866 George John Warren died and his son Augustus Henry who resumed the name of Vernon succeeded as the 6th Lord Vernon. He had married Harriet Anson, daughter of the first earl of Lichfield in 1851 and was much occupied with the restoration of Sudbury Hall and the building of the east wing in the 1870s. The collieries and estate flourished despite big fluctuations in trade and loss of markets in hard times. Much of the former parkland round Poynton Hall and on the western side was being converted back to profitable agricultural use, bringing in rent to Lord Vernon, for example by the time of the 1851 Census Park House Farm, 109 acres, Towers Farm, 500 acres, and later New House Farm expanded. Other land was taken by the colliery and estate administration and repair yards at Towers yard and by new housing which robbed Brookhouse Farm off Park Lane and Dalehousefold Farm of all their land. The Collieries annual report for 1869 gives a list of 31 charitable donations given by Lord Vernon such as pensions for old workmen, support for school and church activities in Poynton, Stockport and Norbury, hospitals such as Manchester Eye, Dispensaries at Ardwick and Macclesfield for the poorer people, the Stockport Town Mission and the almshouses in Poynton.
When in 1875 George William Henry came of age, the 6th Lord Vernon arranged great celebrations at both Sudbury and Poynton. A dinner was held at Poynton for the tenantry, their wives and children over 13, a tea party for the female and juvenile portion of the community, a dinner for the whole colliery workforce and a treat for the scholars of the Vernon schools followed by varied entertainments. Triumphal arches in evergreens and flowers were erected at the entrance to the Park and at the bridge over the stream which fills the lake. A blue and white pavilion in wood and glass was erected 120' x 80' with ten tables running the entire length. All this work and the catering was undertaken by the famous proprietors of Belle Vue, Messrs Jennison. The list of food in several courses was prodigious including mock turtle soup, turbot and salmon, beef, veal, duckling, pigeon pie, pates de foie gras, lobster, sweets, peaches, pears, nuts and claret, sherry and port. An address was presented by the farmers to the young heir praising the care for the tenantry shown by his father and wishing him well. Then the tea party followed, to which 750 were invited but over 1000 came, to eat the salad, currant bread, cakes and biscuits, waited on by many of the Vernon family and their tenants. Two boats had been brought from Belle Vue to give trips on the lake and rides were offered on the back of a zoo elephant. About 800 sat down to the colliery work people's substantial dinner next day, presided over by the 6th Lord Vernon. A further illuminated address was offered to the 21 year old who offered his earnest wish for the prosperity of all those working in the collieries and said he hoped to visit them underground. The address is preserved at Sudbury Hall.
The 6th Lord Vernon as Chairman made a most interesting speech which reveals his concern and understanding of the problems of a mining community. He did not claim his son whom he rejoiced to see now come of age was perfect but he has a warm heart and will earnestly carry out the tasks which lie ahead. He praised the work of Thomas Mattocks who had recently died as an example of industry, honesty and perseverance over more than 30 years, recalling the day when he cut the first sod with him at the opening of the Park Pit in 1845. Mattocks was very prominent also in the Methodist Church as Superintendent of the Sunday school in Park Lane. He was the first manager under the Mines Regulation Act of 1872 which improved safety, reduced the working week underground and eventually led to two shifts being needed. Lord Vernon claimed I don't recollect any single measure ever proposed to me (for the safety or comfort of the workforce) which I have hesitated to adopt. He praised the first G.C. Greenwell and his underlookers who managed affairs underground and expected that his son G.C. Junior who succeeded in 1877 would be equally successful. But he warned that there were still some people who took risks with naked lights or neglected the safety of the roof (crushing by roof falls was one of the most frequent types of accident) thus endangering their work mates. He believed it important to continue building substantial colliery houses. The stone built blocks in Coppice Road had just been finished in 1874 and by 1881 there were the maximum such rented houses, 202 in all. He said they were improving the water supply and the provision of gas, but again he called upon tenants to keep their houses in order and not too fully occupied. He made an interesting comment I see strong evidence in this place of a desire to foster habits of self help by the co-operative society (first at Hockley in 1862 in the stone building opposite Hockley Post Office), the clubs which exist in this place, the Accident Society and so on. The co-operative store is now rising (in mid Park Lane where is now Homelyme for the elderly). I still think it is doubtful whether the Committee have selected the right site.
(He was proved right eventually when after a period of extension and success this store closed in 1981 in favour of the one near the main cross roads. He believed however with good management and reasonable prices the Co-op would be of great benefit and this was certainly proved; it is still one of the few remaining independent retail societies. He felt one club would be better than the many which exist. There was certainly a club for which deductions were made in wages which eventually turned into the Working Men's Club in its own building by 1920 after support from later Vernons (see Chapter 11 . There had been a voluntary Accident Society since the I850s promoted by Ashworth and the Vernons to which miners subscribed. In 1873 Lord Vernon and G.C. Greenwell succeeded in appointing a qualified doctor and had a high regard to safety matters. They had to fall in with the provisions of the 1881 Employers' Liability Act which made employers responsible for compensation for workmen injured or killed through the negligence of the management, as well as supporting the Accident Society in payments to the sick or injured in other circumstances.
In the 1870s Lord Vernon had to visit Poynton several times from Switzerland where he resided because of ill health to settle problems arising from the activities of the District Association of Mines at Ashton who took up the case, for example, of poor pay for day wage men and horse drivers. Later as the unions became nationally and locally stronger the Vernons had to agree to nationally and regionally negotiated wages supported from the 1890s through the Poynton Lodge of the local District Association of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation. In 1875 Lord Vernon asked G.C. Greenwell to produce another report on the present position and future prospects for the collieries. Details are given in Chapter 5 of his proposals for greater concentration of coal getting in a few main pits, more rational drainage and ventilation arrangements and improvements in rail transport with locomotive haulage for the first time. These plans took many years to carry out as the economic circumstances of the market did not favour the maximum possible production. Besides the sales of coal there continued to be sales of considerable amounts of oak, beech, ash and elm trees from the Coppice and elsewhere, for example 1040 oaks in 1875 and frequent sales of fallen timber, pea sticks etc. Both the brick works and the gas works, operated by the collieries to use the by-products of coal mining, were expanded in the 1870s and although they never reached full capacity or made a big profit they helped many building projects locally, provided tiles for better drainage in the fields and relatively cheap gas for industry and in the homes.
When visiting Poynton after Poynton Hall was abandoned the Vernons stayed at the Towers, their new mansion. It is convenient here to describe its history. When the Hall began to be used for more lowly inhabitants buildings were erected or adapted incorporating the two towers but eventually replacing the fort- like facade between them. The buildings were shown on the 2" to one mile survey in 1840 preparatory to the first 1" to the mile map, published in 1843. In the 1841 census they were occupied by a dressmaker, an independent lady, her sister, two coalminers and their families, a shoemaker and his family and two female servants; probably some remains still existed of the original hall. The site is shown clearly on the map which accompanies the 1 849 survey being described in the schedule as house, outbuilding, yard, gardens etc., amounting to six acres with the former park areas stretching down to the lake including the hall meadow now listed as pasture. It was included in the Towers Farm leased to Isaac Hadwen who also rented the stables and yard at Poynton Hall, amounting to 281 acres. The first mention of a substantial building called the Towers in directories is in 1848 when Hadwen was there and in the fuller directory of 1850 it is described as a castellated mansion, the seat of John Hadwen, Colliery Manager who was still there in the 1860 directory. The picture of 1850 in the Illustrated London News already referred to shows the two towers with flags flying and the backs of the low buildings which formed part of a courtyard with the tip of a larger building between the towers. The description of the scene notes It is now some years since Poynton Hall was occupied by the Vernons and the mansion is in a very dilapidated condition . . . The original abode of the family was castellated, as is evidenced by the two remaining towers. This confirms the site as that of the original hall. In the foreground is a house from which Towers Farm was later run. The first large scale Ordnance Survey map of 1873, photographs which have survived and a plan in the 1911 sale catalogue for parts of the Vernon Estate in Poynton show the main mansion very much expanded into a gentleman's house. A waterhead inscribed GJW(arren), 1860, was used to show the date of the improvement of drainage from one of the towers. There were major drawing rooms and a glass roofed winter garden on the SW side with a morning room and utility rooms facing NE on the ground floor and dining room, kitchen and servants' quarters in the NW wing on the ground floor, with bedrooms above, the centre drawing room being surmounted by a clock and bell tower. The towers themselves were used as rooms on three floors. The main entrance was from the NE side by a drive from Towers Road. Many more outbuildings had been added, and there were big alterations to the house in 1869 and 1904. The maps show the gardens were extended and took in the King Pool, now having a boathouse, with a fountain in the intervening lawn, orchards and more woodland. By 1911 there were tennis lawns, a cricket pitch and croquet lawn, extensive fruit and kitchen gardens and large heated greenhouses for vines, peaches etc. The latest modern conveniences were added, electricity being produced by a home generator, gas lighting and central heating. The Park, Pool and two lodges were included in the grounds.
From 1874 until 1883 Richard Christy of the hatmaking firm in Stockport rented the Towers and was instrumental with Lord Vernon in 1873 in bringing some employment for girls who trimmed hats in a workshop in London Road South for the main factory. Members of the Vernon family stayed there when visiting Poynton. Next the Dowager Lady Vernon (the 5th Lord Vernon's second wife) lived there for a time as directories for 1888 and 1890 show. In the early 20th century Commander Algernon Horatio Anson and the Honourable Adela lived there until 1911 when as we will find later the young 8th Lord Vernon was obliged to sell much of the western part of his estate including the Towers. At the sale on 20 September the Towers was purchased by Walter Bright Hodgkinson, JP, Chairman of the prominent cotton firm, the Hollins Mill Go, of Marple, including Poynton Pool and its surrounding park with the Park and Anglesea Lodges, amounting to 131 acres.
The Park is described in the sale catalogue as a famous beauty spot, stretching away from the mansion and profusely timbered with limes, oaks and copper beeches and the lake as famous for its fishing, bordered by a walk nicely screened by a plantation of oak and copper beeches and various shrubs with a boathouse (still there).
Hodgkinson continued to reside at the Towers till 1926 when he moved to the south of England. The whole property was then acquired by Waiter Henry Torkington, head of Sutton and Torkington's hat works in Stockport. Again a decision was made to abandon the existing mansion, this time the Towers, and build a modern mansion, the Grange, still there, now off South Park Drive. The directories of 1928 and 1934 state that the Towers was left unoccupied. The Grange took in the King Pool and part of the Towers gardens. Proposals by Mr. A.H. Kay of Alderley Edge to turn the Towers into a country club failed in the hard times of the 1930s. In November 1936 the Amalgamated Building Go. (proprietor Mr. Gold) acquired the site from Torkington and pulled down most of the buildings. He was a speculative builder with many other projects, for example in Stockport, and did not build in Poynton for many years, though he managed to sell some of the outbuildings.
The two ancient towers remained standing till after the Second World War and no more building on the Towers site and gardens took place until 1950 when John Shaw, Builders, took over the site, demolished the towers, then some 350 years old, divided the area into plots and built high class housing until eventually the whole area was built up. Margaret Darlington remembers taking her children to play and pick blackberries on the old site in 1950 when besides the two towers the original stone gateposts at the entrance and part of the tiled floor of the former conservatory still remained. The Towers and its gardens were often deemed worthy of visits by Manchester and other local societies in the summer because of the fine gardens and grounds, very suitable for picnics; for example the Marple Horticultural Society and the Manchester Field Naturalists' Society in 1912.
Fortunately, in 1935 Cheshire County Council purchased the main park and pool from Torkington and Arthur Garner, his estate agent and in turn leased it to Poynton Parish Council for 21 years. In 1938 the County sold it to Macclesfield Rural District Council which was absorbed in the local government reorganisation of 1974 into Macclesfield Borough Council. The Parish Council has continued to lease it; the lessors retain the right to intervene in certain special circumstances. This valuable amenity with its pool, ancient trees, wild life and long historical associations should be preserved as a well-maintained and expertly conserved open space for future generations. In 1989 the Poynton Parish Council agreed to the formation of a group entitled the Friends of Poynton Park which brings together representaives of the interests of historic buildings and landscape conservation, fishing, and the preservation and enhancement of plants, trees, birds and all creatures who live in the Park. More information is to be provided to the public on this most valuable inheritance.
Returning now to our main theme, until 1883 the 6th Lord Vernon was involved with the second G.C. Greenwell in discussions over the proposed sinking of a new shaft at Park Pits to gain access to the largest reserves of coal remaining in the Accommodation seams deep under the Park area. He was also much involved in creating a sliding scale specially for Poynton miners which related wages to the current price levels for coal in an endeavour to meet the more active demands of the new Miners' Federation at a time when sales were restricted and profits only about £8000 per annum. By this time the colliery workforce was reduced by more economical methods to 600-700. It was beginning to become more difficult for the Vernons to maintain their benevolent patriarchal management in the face of more difficult economic conditions, greater government control and union insistence on higher standards of safety, ventilation, working conditions, health and sanitation. Their support for education and community care however still continued; a long list of 32 headings for gifts amounting to £473 appears in the 1882 annual report.
The 7th, 8th and 9th Lord Vernons
In 1883 George William Henry Vernon became the 7th Lord Vernon after his father's death. In 1885 he married Frances Margaret Lawrance who came from New York, daughter of a rich banker. She tragically became mentally ill after the birth of her second son in 1889 (later the 9th Lord Vernon) and went to live in the south of France. Not surprisingly, this much admired Lady's name Lawrance was used for the name of the new shaft at Park Pit which was completed in that year. It became the most productive of the shafts and greatly helped to raise the quantities of coal economically won. In 1890, 216,362 tons were raised (nearing the early peak of 1845) and profits averaged over £15,000 from 1886-97. Poynton miners became much more heavily unionised from the 1890s when they formed their own Lodge within the local District Association of the Miners Union and became involved in national strikes for the first time in 1893 and for four weeks in 1912. In 1893 Lord Vernon joined the local Lancashire and Cheshire Coalowners' Defence Association which aimed to provide mutual support, combined action in disputes and strikes, and regulated wages.
The Vernons continued to support the schools in Poynton with extensions in 1890 and 1899. The last Vernon and colliery promoted housing was erected from 1891-2 when 25 new and substantial cottages were built in Park Lane and London Road North (recognisable from the terra cotta date plaques). Some larger houses for office staff were included and a new post office for Poynton. Thus the tradition of better than average housing for their workforce was maintained in the 1890s.
With the creation of more powerful local government bodies in the form of Parish and Rural District and County Councils at this time it became beyond the powers of private individuals to maintain adequate standards of sanitation, sewerage, water supply (there were complaints of the pollution of Poynton Brook) and cheap housing for rent. The Liberal Lord Vernon welcomed the advent of these caring institutions and the more democratic control of local affairs. The Macclesfield Rural District Council provided a new outfall sewerage system for Poynton west of Chester Road where it crosses Norbury Brook. The Vernons helped at times of the serious outbreaks of infectious diseases like scarlet fever by providing a cottage for an isolation hospital and gave lands for many of the sporting activities such as the Cricket Club, also acting as patrons.
In 1885 Lord Vernon being concerned to promote opportunities for unmarried girls and womenfolk in Poynton arranged a lease with Edward Robinson Buck, already a shirt manufacturer in Manchester, to set up a factory in former stable buildings at Woodside, where the two inclines meet, to make sports shirts. This soon expanded using gas for energy from the colliery works nearby. It pioneered in making guide and scout uniforms. Later Bukta became a household name for sportswear, tents and outdoor gear. The Vernons stayed at the Towers from time to time, but spent most time at their London residence, Sudbury Hall being let from the late 1890s until 1922.
In 1898 G.W.H. Vernon died prematurely at the age of only 44 and was succeeded by his son George Francis Augustus, then only ten years old, who never married and was succeeded by his brother Francis Lawrance William in 1915. This was a turning point in the Vernon connection with Poynton. At this time the economically winnable coal was running out and drainage problems were gradually becoming more acute. G.C. Greenwell Junior, who continued to manage the collieries and estate until 1920, was well liked by his workforce and with the support of his master moved with the spirit of the times, playing an important part in the Parish Council and many other societies and activities in Poynton.
Under the terms of his father's will the young heir became a ward of his aunt the Honourable Adela Anson. He was educated at Eton and lived at the Towers with her and her husband, then Captain Anson. He astonished the village by leading a life of lavish entertainment and frequently being fined for speeding with his new motor car. Many stories are found in Poynton folklore of the older generation about his extravagances. However, he became for a time a member of the diplomatic corps. In 1909 there was another coming of age celebration in Poynton with cannons roaring, the village decorated, a feast for 3000 on Poynton Green and a two-day party at which commemorative plates were again issued. There is one at Poynton Library with a handsome maroon edge, coat of arms and motto. This occasion was marred by too much drinking and bad behaviour. Many plates were skimmed over Poynton Pool and sank.
Captain Anson seems to have acted as adviser to the youthful Lord Vernon, acting as agent for the family until 1910. After this his health became poor and he died in 1913. The Stockport Advertiser noted he combined the finest qualities of an officer and gentleman and carried out many improvements in the village. He served on Macclesfield RDC, the Macclesfield Board of Guardians (for poor relief) and Cheshire County Council. He was a keen sportsman and started a rifle club.
At this time in carrying out the provisions of his father's will, the new 8th Lord Vernon had to take on the responsibility for the Vernon Estates. His father's will required that he purchase the contents of Sudbury Hall at valuation and also purchase the colliery shares. The value of the agricultural part of the estates had deteriorated but the colliery shares had risen sharply in value. This forced him to sell some part of his estate in order to buy other parts. His first thought was to sell the Sudbury agricultural estate and live at Poynton but eventually in 1911 he decided to keep Sudbury and sell 863 acres of his Poynton estate including the Towers, the park area and the western half of the estate which the catalogue describes as of more than ordinary importance being situate in a district of unusual charms yet within easy reach of the great industrial centres of Lancashire and Cheshire and thus presents unusual opportunities to Builders and Speculators in a district ripe for development and exceptional opportunities both to the agriculturalist and the investor. The good shooting rights are mentioned. The sale realised £14,509. Lord Vernon enlisted very early in the First World War in the Derbyshire Yeomanry but unfortunately caught dysentery in the Gallipolli campaign and died at the age of 27 being buried in Malta. His brother Francis Lawrance William succeeded him as 9th Lord Vernon with his wife Violet Miriam Nightingale (Clay) whom he had married in 1915. He continued to manage the collieries and estate through G.C. Greenwell. Coal fetched a high price during the war and miners were well paid and kept fully at work after the government had taken ownership.
After the War pits returned to private ownership but owners faced great difficulties over low prices and at the same time great resistance to wage restrictions culminating in a long unsuccessful strike in 1921. The mining of coal at Poynton was becoming more and more uneconomic. In 1921 Lord Vernon relinquished complete control of the pits and Poynton Collieries was formed with George Harold Greenwell as agent to the Company. The story is told in Chapter 5 of their final decline to closure in 1935.
In 1920 Lord Vernon decided to sell most of his remaining property in Poynton and in 1922 he and Lady Vernon took up residence at Sudbury Hall and began to restore it to its former elegance. The sale catalogue and accompanying map (copy in Poynton Library) give a great deal of information about the 1573 acres and large numbers of properties sold including four large private residences, Barlow Fold, the Paddock, Westfield and Oakfield, 11 farms in the eastern and southern parts of the original estate with large numbers of cottages, smallholdings, the gas works, hat factory and shirt factory bringing in rents of £4577 per annum.
Thus the long association of the Vernons with Poynton was ended and the way laid open for the estate to be broken up and developed a little before the Second World War and on a large scale in the 1950s to 70s as a dormitory area for commuters and retired people. Fate had dictated that both the residences should be destroyed but fortunately the lake and park with its ancient trees were rented by the Parish Council and have remained an attractive park most valuable for leisure and community uses. Reg Walton in his Social History of the Collieries, printed in Newsletter 14, based on the experiences of his father and his father's friends during the Vernon era agreed with many old Poyntonians who were interviewed at the time this book was researched that the Vernons can be remembered with gratitude for the provision of a good school, for the gas and water supply and for being on the whole caring employers.
In 1963 the 9th Lord Vernon was succeeded by the present 10th Lord, John Lawrance, who resides in a new house near to Sudbury Hall which with its beautiful grounds was given to the National Trust in 1971. The present Lord Vernon is still interested in Poynton history and made available a number of useful items beyond the records deposited at Cheshire Record Office, including family photographs and additional records at the time this book was being written. Some of these were inspected when the Local History Society visited Sudbury Hall in 1982 and our enjoyment is described and the items are listed in Newsletter 5.
Aikin, J. A Description of the Country from 30 to 40 miles round Manchester. John Stockdale, 1795.
Byng, John. Torrington Diaries. Vol. 2, 1935 A tour of Cheshire in June, 1790.
Cheshire Record Office:
Downes MSS, DDS
Vernon Papers, DVE
Macclesfield Rural District Council records. LRM.
Poynton Valuation List, 1921-7. LRM 2738/13/2
De Figueiredo, R and Treuherz, J. Cheshire Country Houses. Phillimore, 1988.
Directories of Cheshire. In Manchester Central Library, Local History Dept
Earwaker, J.P. East Cheshire, Past and Present. Vol. 2. Printed for the author, 1877.
Harris, John. The Artist and the Country House. Sotheby, Parke, Bernet, 1979.
Heginbotham, W. Stockport, ancient and modern. Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1882.
National Trust, Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire. 1973.
Neale, J.P. Views of the seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen, Vol.2. 1829.
Osborne, G.Y. Sketch of the parish of Prestbury, 1840.
Roberts, W. Some early Romneys. In The Connoisseur Vol. 89, 1932 p. 365-7.
Describes painting of Sir George Warren and family, 1769.
Shercliff, W.H.: The Greenwells and Poynton. Poynton Local History Society Newsletter 10
Lady Bulkeley's Charity. PLHS N 7
Parish Registers of Poynton and Norbury chapels. PLHS N 5
Pickfords and Poynton. PLHS N 2
Sudbury Hall, further information. PLHS N 5
Three surveys of Poynton, 1770, 1793 and 1849. PLHS N 8
Water corn mills of Norbury, Poynton and Worth. PLHS N 4
Ward, Humphry and Roberts, W. Romney, a biographical and critical essay with a catalogue raissone of his works. 1904.
Includes a description of his painting of Sir George Warren.
Watson, John. Memoirs of the ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey and their descendants to the present time. Vol. 2. 3rd ed., Warrington 1782.
This text taken from: Poynton A Coalmining Village; social history, transport and industry 1700 - 1939, by W.H.Shercliff, D.A.Kitching and J.M.Ryan, published by W.H.Shercliff, 1983. ISBN 0 9508761 0 0
Chapter 12. Social Life and Welfare of the Community
Last updated 27.5.05