The Plight of Hopwood Hall
Hopwood Hall was the ancestral home of the Hopwood family and there has been a residence on the site of the present Hall since the 12th Century. The current Hopwood Hall is mostly thought to have been rebuilt in the 17-18th century with parts dating back much further and is officially a scheduled Grade 2 listed building of historical importance.
The historical points outlined below and many more besides are covered more fully in a book by Edwin Bannon about Brother Augustine. What follows here focuses on the last members of the Hopwood Family to reside at the Hall and the following sequence of events leading to its current tragic state of disrepair.
Read more about the Hopwood Family in 'Prominent Families' in the History section
1923: The Hopwood family vacate Hopwood Hall. The Hopwood family had owned the mansion and estate since the time of King John.
July 1946: The De La Salle Brothers purchase Hopwood Hall and grounds for £12,500. Other costs mean the initial outlay is £48,841. These initial costs are however dwarfed by much larger building and expansion costs.
1957: Hopwood Hall is officially scheduled as a building of historic interest.
August 1982: An announcement by the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, William Waldegrave, during Margaret Thatcher's term as Prime Minister spells the beginning of the end of an era for De La Salle. He proposes that teacher training courses should end at the college. The Governors were given just six weeks to respond. Many students signed petitions.
1989: Teacher training courses end at De La Salle College. At this time the Old Hopwood Hall still maintained many of its old features including the oak panelling and was in a fair state of maintenance.
The Decline of Hopwood Hall
1990's: The rot sets in for the Old Hopwood Hall. De La Salle College is sold to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council. The surrounding buildings are used once more for education. The council starts a new tertiary level college. Hopwood Hall College re-opens as a two campus college with the other campus at Rochdale. The Old Hall is surplus to their requirements and so begins to be neglected and falls into a state of disrepair, most of its remaining internal architectural features are plundered or destroyed by water damage through leaking roofs.
2009: Hopwood Hall in its present sorry neglected state, with the lead and many of the slate tiles missing from the roof and with many of its internal architectural features of interest like the 18th century oak panelling having been plundered or rotting away due to water damage caused by vandals and being left exposed to the elements. The Old Hopwood Hall is falling into ruin and is now all but land locked, with the access road through the NOW privately owned Hopwood Hall College being denied to private vehicles, any chance of this fine grade two listed building being brought back to its former glory are fast diminishing if not already gone.
What does the future hold for this historical building once one of Middleton's finest old manor houses with such great history? The present Hopwood Hall may not be the finest, most historical or even architecturally attractive building in Middleton but surely for the historical value of the place it stands and the Hopwood family history it deserves to be preserved.Written by Mr Dennis Horner. Submitted March 2009
Is there anything we can we do? Email your comments to me at email@example.com
Me and my brother go on there for a day out and we sit on the grass and lay in the sun but we keep getting kicked off for no reason. Is there any way you can get them old days back where we can keep going on to the hall and relax on the grass, like get us access to the grounds please?
Whilst it isn't right that security is so tight, we cannot even visit Hopwood Hall and its grounds anymore, at least it is being protected from the kind of devastating attack suffered by Tonge Hall, until something is hopefully resolved and a use can be found to secure the survival of the building.
I was very glad to see some attention being given to the plight of Hopwood Hall. I grew up in the area and now live in Australia. I visited Hopwood this summer and was devastated to see the state of the old hall and grounds. Living in a country which has no building over 250 years old, it seems to me criminal that historic buildings such as this one are left to ruin. After one of my trips 'home' to England I wrote to English Heritage, below is the reply I got. It seems our hall has been overlooked. I do hope something can be done to save this vital part of English (and Middleton's) history.
Ms D M
Dear Ms. M,
Thank you for your message which has been forwarded to me by Customer Services. Hopwood Hall is on the national Buildings At Risk register, which is complied annually by English Heritage with advice from local authorities. The Conservation Officer at Rochdale Borough Council, David Morris, should be able to tell you what the latest situation is regarding attempts to implement a viable reuse, and English Heritage will contribute to discussions about any plans when we are requested to do so. Mr. Morris's telephone number is 01706 864312. Please contact me directly if you have any further queries, as Customer Services are unable to answer these enquiries directly.
Casework Officer for Greater Manchester
English Heritage North West Region
My company is currently working to repair the roof to the old hall, we have been carrying out repairs for the last 3 months or so. It is emergency work to replace the stolen lead and flags and to carry out repairs funded by RMBC. WITH LUCK IT MIGHT BE SAVED.
If it is a listed building you need to get a court order served upon the council to make it wind and watertight and to give formal written assurances that there is no dry rot and that they will continue to ensure that. Why are they not putting it ont he market? Alternatively if they don't want it, get some interested parties together and form a Historic Buildings Trust, and get the council to sell it to the Trust for £10. That gets it off their hands full stop. There MUST be an ancient right of way to the Hall. You need to examine old maps to ascertain that. Buying something and even building over the right of way does not make it legal. Whoever owns the complex now could be forced to provide an alternative right of way, whether or not it was they who built upon the original.
G L F.
Rochdale Council have confirmed the road to the hall is, and always was a private one to what was once a private house so there was never any public right of way to challenge the college about.
As you may be aware I started 'Friends of Hopwood' in 1995, to look after the nature side and especially the Hall.
When the De La Salle Brothers left the hall, RMBC bought the job-lot including all buildings, with the hall included. After no time at all the college people decided to go Government funded, and stated that they did not require the Hall. That meant that our once lovely building became an island in the middle of the college, surrounded by the college who didn't want to know it! Throughout the years of neglect, it was proposed to be a hotel, but the college would not allow access! So what can be done about it, I don't really know, and wish I did. Why don't Rochdale who own it, and English Heritage do something? It has now had about 15 years of total neglect!
Good afternoon Colette,
Your e-mail to the council was directed to me just after Easter, but I have been on leave, so my apologies for the delay in responding. Hopwood Hall, along with all further education colleges in the country, was incorporated in the early 1990's. That means since then the college has been an independent organisation, and the college corporation (governing Body) is responsible for the provision and the assets. Queries about the college should therefore be made directly to the Principal. If there is any other way I can be of assistance, please let me know.
Team Leader School Organisation and Development
A reply to my query to RMBC about who actually owns Hopwood Hall College these days.
I was doing some digging up at Hopwood Hall College trying to find out more info. It turns out that the woodlands, just off The college road and down the ditch, is meant to be private property and they have a notice up and one on the Hall so you can't enter the building. I did however say to them that it's a famous landmark and that They should let people take photos of this lovely building. The Hall has been getting work done on it. They have started to repair the roof and have been doing work inside the Hall, but there's a guy who lives on the land who drives a jeep. He is the one who threatens to phone the police.
Just saw your web page and was so shocked to see this majestic buildings plight. I was at De La Salle Teaching College 1974-1977 and had so many fantastic times in the Hall. Dancing, parties, meeting friends (it was the students bar/disco etc then), it was one of the happiest times of my life. The place was alive with young happy people with a zest for life, long chats, sorting the world out - romance and celebrations. I even layed on a bus to bring a load of girls over from Sedgley College for my birthday bash! So many fond memories, so sad to see it now. I went on to teach at Hailsham then Harwich with posts as House Head & Department Head and now mentor young teachers. That place set me up for life!
Yours Trevor Simpson.
Just a thought I had about salvaging Hopwood Hall. Notwithstanding the high outlay costs, I wondered if it could be refurbished as a centre for retirement courses and day & residential courses for crafts, arts, etc. There are plenty of retirees due to come on stream in the near future! It could also tie in with other activities at the College. A good example of this type of use is at Alston Hall near Preston.
best regards, Phil Hulme
I saw your blog on the demise of Hopwood Hall, i cant beleive it has been allowed to get in such a state i have not walked in the woods for years and live very near, we used to go & look at the hall when we were kids as we always used to play in hopwood then, ( it was safe to do so then ). I also had an opportunity to have a tour of the hall when i was about 14years old,34 years ago ! The hall was beautiful and the gardens were also beautifully kept, i am appalled at the picture with the windows boarded up. Do you have any updated news on the hall, i would be very interested to know,
For the latest on new plans to turn the Hall into a restaurant as reported in the Middleton Guardian in September 2010 click here
Some more interesting links about recent repair work, pictures of the interior of the hall and a Hopwood family website
Page updated 28.08.2011