Mexborough and Swinton Times February 3, 1939
Houghton Old Hall Doomed
To Be Replaced By New Hotel
Rector Fears Disturbance Of Services
The fate of Houghton Old Hall, the Tudor mansion standing beside the Rotherham to Pontefract main road at Great Houghton was sealed at the annual Brewster sessions at Barnsley on Wednesday. An application for the erection of a new hotel (exclusively foreshadowed in our columns a few weeks ago) on an adjoining site was approved, and it was stated that the scheme would involve the demolition of the Old Hall, a licence for which was granted at least 120 years ago.
At the hearing there was no one to do this picturesque fifteenth century mansion reverence except the Rector of Darfield, the Rev. H. Drown, who expressed a fear that the noise of motor traffic around the pew premises would obtrude on the tranquility of the services at the adjoining Chapel-of-Ease, and a solicitor for the brewery company (Mr. W. Bentley), voiced some compunction at the prospect of the old building having to be done away with.
Houghton Old Hall was for a number of years the home of the Rodes family, and a refuge for dissenting priests. Elizabeth, a sister of Sir Edward Rodes, was the third wife of Sir Thomas Wentworth, the great Lord Strafford.
Sir Edward served under Cromwell at the battle of Preston, and after the Restoration became High Sheriff of Yorkshire. It is said that the first blow in the Civil Wars was struck in the yard at the rear of the mansion. Early in the 19th century it passed into the hands of Richard Slater Milnes, of Wakefield and Fryston, M.P. for York, who spent a £1,000 on its restoration.
New Church Mentioned.
At the hearing at Barnsley the Rector of Darfield said it was the only place of historical interest in Great Houghton. The Rector mentioned a scheme for the erection of a new church at Great Houghton, and on behalf of the Brewery Company, Mr. Bentley said the church officials could have whatever stone-work from the Old Hall they thought might be useful.
Submitting the application for the construction of new premises, Mr. Bentley expressed regret that historical associations had to be broken, but said attention had been drawn to the building by the Superintendent of Police. The owners agreed that it was impossible to do anything effective with the existing premises.
Actually the proposed new building was virtually on the same site and would be more convenient for the public, being slightly nearer the main road. The Old Hall was a rambling building, difficult of supervision, and from every point of view it was desirable that a modern building should be substituted.
They applied technically for permission to remove the licence, though it was really a matter of re-building the old house.
Mr. W. M. Jackson, architect for the brewery company, said that owing to colliery subsidence and other considerations it was impossible to adapt the old house.
The Chairman (Mr. G. H. Norton): I don’t think you need dwell on the old building. We are very sorry from one point of view that it is going.
Queen Anne Bed Poser.
Mr. Bentley: Our great trouble is to know what to do with the Queen Anne bed. (Laughter.)
The Chairman: Can’t you hand it to the National Trust?
The licensee, Mr. Edgar J. Button, said there was not one room in the building that could be supervised from the bar.
The Chairman: Can you tell me when the first licence was granted’?—It is said about 120 years ago.
When it was asked whether there were any objections, the Rev. H. Drown intimated that he had something to say. “It is hardly an objection, he said, “but I want to make representations on a point which has arisen in connection with the church, which is only a few yards away.
Mr Bentley said that when the Old Hall Inn Abbey rebuilt the would raise no objection if their worships thought that the Old Crown Inn at Great Houghton was redundant.
Mr Bentley then read a letter dated January 25, received from the Reverend H Drown. The letter referred to the proposed reconstruction of the hotel, and said the Church Council were rather disturbed after developments which might possibly be pre-prejudicial to them. They understood that a car park was to be provided, and they feared that the starting up of a number of cars immediately adjoining the church, or in close proximity to the new church when erected, would disturb their services on Sunday evening
Offer of Site
In the letter the Rector further stated that he desired to make a suggestion which might perhaps be to their mutual benefit. He asked whether the brewery company will consider the purchase of the adjoining land which belong to the church, so that they could seek a new site where there was no possibility of friction arising.
In regard to this suggestion Mr Bentley said the new building would actually be some 25 feet farther away from the church, and the proposed car park was in front of the hotel, and therefore farther away still. They had plenty of land for their purposes. He added that one might think that the suggestion that the place will be a nuisance was “not unconnected with the desire to sell the land.”
Mr W Humphries (a magistrate): Would you like to be disturbed by motor horns?
Mr Bentley: I don’t like it. My point is that the mortar ones would be taken further away.
Mr Humphreys: when you have removed it will not be far away
“Nothing to Do With It.’
In the box, the Rev. H Drown said: “I should like to say quite emphatically that the question of the purchase of the land has nothing whatever to do with it. There is no ulterior motive whatever. It was merely meant as a suggested possible abatement of friction.
Mr. Drown said that at present not many cars came to the Old Hall Inn, but he had been told that the motor traffic would very greatly increase if the plans were carried out. Also, it had been mooted that a bus stopping place would be made there and if that was the case it might be a very great nuisance to them, especially on Sundays, and sometimes on week-days. They were simply safeguarding their interests. They regretted on sentimental grounds the disappearance of the Old Hall.
The Chairman: Have you any idea of building a new church?
The Rector: Yes, we are collecting money and hope to do it within reasonable time.
The Chairman: What will become of the chapel then?—We shall probably use it as a hall.
In reply to Mr. T. W. Ilisley (magistrate), the Rector said the church building with the land was conveyed to the church definitely.
Offer Of Old Stone.
Mr. Bentley: My clients have instructed me to.say you can have all the old stone you need out of the Old Hall in connection with the building of the new church.
The Rector: Thank you very much.
Mr. Bentley: You don’t know whether you are going to build on this site eventually, and you want the magistrates to refuse our application for that reason?
The Rector: No.
Mr. Bentley said the local authority would have a voice in fixing the site for the proposed new bus station, and the church would have the right to object.
Supt. Varley said it would be arranged by the Traffic Commissioners and the police.
The Rector: If it were guaranteed that we should not be disturbed our objection would fall. The Rector added. “I am not ‘raising fractious objection. I am simply saying that if there is a possibility of motor cars starting up during our services it will be very disturbing.
If we build a new church it will be nearer. We don’t want it to be said the case had gone by default.
The application was granted as stated.