Building Name

Decorations: Abney Hall Cheadle

1852 - 1857
Cheadle, Stockport
GMCA, England
James Watt
Extensioms and alterations

Known originally as “The Grove,” the first house was built in 1847 for Alfred Orrell, a wealthy Stockport mill owner. Orrell died shortly after its completion and the house was bought at auction by James Watt on 15 May 1849. Watt re-named the house, firstly Cheadle Grove and then Cheadle Hall before deciding upon Abney Hall. He was a wholesale draper and later Mayor of Manchester, and Watts's warehouse in Portland Street overlooking Piccadilly was the largest of them all. Watts would later be chairman of the Manchester Arts Treasures Exhibition.  The architects for the alterations and extensions at Abney Hall were Travis and Mangnall, and they were in all probability responsible for the enlargement of Abney Hall to the south and south-east.

In its external appearance, Abney Hall is now a large red brick house in the Tudor‑Gothic style, with numerous steep asymmetrical gables ‑ typical of the mansions affluent Manchester businessmen built for themselves in the villages of Cheshire within commuter distance of Manchester. Of the original villa, only the north-west corner remains, the neo‑Norman portal being easily distinguishable.  However, it is the interior which distinguishes the house. Through the Norman portal, is a Gothic corridor, with the staircase on the left, designed by John Gregory Crace,  who worked at Abney Hall between 1852 and 1857. The staircase has an open well, a very heavily carved (machine‑carved ?) balustrade, and a panelled ceiling on arched braces. At the top landing is a lantern on ribs and tierceron ribs on the pattern of the fly octagon and the central lobby of Barry and Pugin's Houses of Parliament.

In the south-west corner is the former Drawing Room, in Puginesque Gothic style at its most sumptuous and hence its most oppressive. In the last months of his life, Pugin provided Watts and Crace with drawings, but they were not followed in the letter - though in the spirit, or at any rate in the spirit as understood and interpreted by Crace. Only a very little of the decoration is actually Pugin's, e.g. the frieze. The room otherwise has a panelled ceiling with a pendant in each panel, very ornate doorcases of papier‑mache, a Gothic chimneypiece of white marble, and a huge sideboard with top coving. The chandelier was made by Hardman. The room next door, in the middle of the w side, also has a big chimneypiece and rich doorcase. The chimneypiece is, as the Early Victorians liked it, made up of bits of woodwork from various sources. There is also a smaller sideboard here. Other features of the Pugin style to be found in the principal rooms include Minton tiles.

Reference    Stockport MBC Notes issued for Heritage Open Days 14-15 September 1996
Reference    The Craces, Royal Decorators 1768-1899 Ed Megan Aldrich. 1990 Brighton