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A Short History of Roaches Hall
Roaches Hall (or Roaches House as it was known originally) was built in 1876. This date can be seen on the side of the building and on the original chair that is marked RH 1876 in the hallway.
Roaches Hall was built by John Hall of Brough Nicholson and Hall, Leek. Brough Nicholson and Hall were silk manufacturers of "sewing silks, braids, bindings, trimmings etc", and were prize winners at the Great Exhibition in 1851, and several later European exhibitions. They were very substantial local employers with 630 employees listed in 1891 – so John Hall was a very wealthy man who demanded a house to fit his status. It sat at the far reaches of the Swythamley Estate ofSir Brocklehurst. The Estate stretched from the main house at Swythamley Hall, south to Toft Hall (now another Party House) and east to Roaches Hall.
The wealthy Mr & Mrs John Hall (c 1891) who built Roaches Hall
Roaches Hall was sold on 27 April 1899 by John Hall. The sale took place at the Swan Hotel in Leek (which you can still visit) at “4 for 5 o’clock in the Afternoon”. Copies of the original sales documents can be found hanging on the stairway. The house went with 68 acres of estate land “well known as a bold picturesque rock and a feature of this part of the country and affords excellent Grouse shooting”. Fortunately “the Drainage is all in good order, and there is a splendid supply of spring water”. “The House is of modern construction and is well timbered and the stone is of good quality for Building purposes”
Roaches Hall Easter 1930 (with third floor - shortly later removed)
Originally it had three floors n its south side (above the current Turret room). See the photo taken at Easter 1930 below. The top floor seems to have been removed in the 1930s – allegedly so the Courtney Brocklehurst could sit on the roof and have better views of the private zoo that had established here! There are still steps which go up inside of the house onto the roof (sadly for reasons of health & safety we are unable to let guests onto the roof as there is little to stop anyone falling off).
By the 1920’s Courtney Brocklehurst (younger brother ofSir PhillipBrocklehurst) was living here.
Lama escapee from Roaches Hall zoo
The zoo was set up as an outpost of London Zoo in 1936, whose keepers were worried about the outbreak of disease killing all their stock. They sent animals to Whipsnade in Bedfordshire and Sir Philip Brocklehurst (who was a Fellow of the Zoological Society) also offered to host some at his country estate. The private zoo included the famous red-necked wallabies, lamas and yaks that later escaped and lived wild on the Roaches rocks for many years. The red-necked wallaby, Macropus rufogriseus, is a native of Tasmania; it is sized about as big as a medium-sized dog, with a grey-brown body and carried its young in a pouch like other kangaroo species. They survived by feeding on heather at night and hiding in bracken during the day. The original wallabies bred and the population stabilised at an around fifty animals for many years, though the harsh winters of 1947 and 1963 reduced the numbers for a while. Certainly sightings of the wallabies were common until the end of the last century and local newspaper articles claim more than one sighting of a solitary wallaby as late as November 2007. Other animals sent here from London Zoo included Tasmanian Black swans, an emu, Indian and Chinese deer and various species of antelope.
The famously fierce Yak
Sir Philip Brocklehurst’s younger brother, Courtney Brocklehurst, was well placed to look after the animals having had been a game warden in Sudan in the early 1930s.
In the Second World War Courtney went off to Africa to rejoin his cavalry regiment with whom he had served in the First World War (although he was much older than the normal age for active service). He was then sent to Burma to fight the Japanese in the jungles and was sadly killed there in 1942.
On the Roaches rocks (at Hanging Stone) is a plaque with an epitaph to the Lt Colonel and a poem in the handwriting of Courtney's brother Philip Brocklehurst. The inscription reads---
LT COL HENRY COURTNEY BROCKLEHURST 10TH ROYAL HUSSARS
AND PILOT IN THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS 1916-1918
GAME WARDEN OF THE SUDAN
BORN AT SWYTHAMLEY MAY 27TH 1888
KILLED ON ACTIVE SERVICE IN BURMA
ON COMMANDO JUNE 1942
"Horses he loved and laughter, the sun, with spaces and the open air.
Erected by his devoted brother 1949"
Lt Col Courtney Brocklehurst
A local girl, Mary Tatton, whose uncle John Hall had built Roaches Hall, is said to have been in love with Courtney and her broken heart was never healed. She later moved into Roaches Hall with her husband and lived here for many years.
Andrea Jackson lived at Roaches Hall from 1947 to 1970 and remembers the Yaks. The old Yak had large horns and was quite fierce, whereas the younger one was much more docile.
Apart from the removal of the third floor, Roaches Hall has remained substantially unaltered. Since 1970 the Hall has had a couple of further owners. The stables and some land were sold off and Roaches House (by now known as Roaches Hall) became a luxury B&B.
In 2006 Roaches Hall became a Party House, so now many guests can enjoy its fabulous architecture and setting. The plumbing and electrics were updated and fire alarms and emergency lighting were installed. A new kitchen was added as were several new bathrooms. However, the wonderful panelled ceiling in the entrance hall, and many other architectural features have been carefully maintained.
We hope you have a fabulous time here!
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