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Report - Winstanley Hall, Wigan (Preston Meet part two) - April 2014

Discussion in 'Residential Sites' started by Idle Hands, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Winstanley Hall

    Visited with Bigjobs, Paradox, Albino-jay and his two mates to round off a thoroughly enjoyable Preston meet. This one was a walk in the park compared to the start of the day, with just one comedy moment of us all diving into the bushes at the sound of a passing tractor.

    One of only three Tudor buildings left in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, the 16th century Winstanley Hall was Grade II* listed in 1966 but a sad decline has led to it sitting silently rotting in overgrown grounds on a hilltop overlooking Wigan in the distance. It is a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument, symbolising its importance on a national level. Construction dates vary depending on what you read but the suggestion on the listing document is that it was built around 1573 for the Winstanleys; a family that sold the estate in 1596 after a tenure that had lasted over 400 years. The new owner was London goldsmith James Bankes, whose family owned it for the next 400 years until it was sold to a local developer in 2000.

    The core of the three storey Elizabethan Hall can still be found today, though it has been extensively modified in the centuries that followed - most notably between 1811-1819 by Lewis Wyatt, whose other notable works in the locale include Lyme Park and Heaton Park. Wyatt was responsible for the replacement of the original gables with the parapet you see today, as well as the new entrance tower complete with portico.

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    The fine cantilevered staircase rising from the entrance hall was also his work, though this has recently succumbed to gravity and sits in a heap, the twisted balustrade hanging in the air with far less finesse than it was ever intended.

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    The Hall has now been unoccupied for around 30 years. Enabling work to convert the building into flats hinged on further building on the surrounding green belt land but the scheme was refused permission by Wigan council, prompting its descent into a state of dereliction.

    In 2011 English Heritage were on the verge of agreeing to the demolition of Winstanley Hall and some of its outbuildings when SAVE Britain’s Heritage took an interest and negotiated a reprieve. EH have agreed to grant £160,000 towards immediate repairs to the stable blocks but fundraising is underway to support the scheme.


    Pictures:
    It was late in the day and the flimsy travel tripod I’d brought was about as sturdy
    under the weight of my camera as the Winstanley floors were under my feet.
    Here’s a selection of passable hand-held shots taken at high ISO…


    The Drawing Room, with its ornate fireplace and coving depicting the motifs of the Hall, alluded to a former grandeur that’s fading fast. Bell pushes remain, as does the bell indicator round the back.

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    Carefully making our way up to the first floor the precarious condition of the building became even more apparent. Whole sections had collapsed right through.

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    Up to the second floor we went treading ever more carefully, one at a time on floors displaying less and less structural integrity the higher we got…

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    One final push and we got to the top and onto the roof. Looking out across the roof you can see the stable blocks, with Wigan glowing in the evening sun on the horizon.

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    Meyrick Bankes’ grand stable blocks were built around an ornate courtyard in the 1830s in a variety of eccentric styles. The eccentricity didn’t end with the architecture either; a series of ornate statues included William Spence’s Neptune in the centre of the courtyard, and one building was used to house dancing bears that were kept for the amusement of visitors.

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    And with that, we were done. A great day out and worth all the muscle aches and pains that stopped me doing anything too strenuous in the days that followed. Thanks to Bigjobs and Paradox for dropping me back at the station, and to everyone else that was there on the day.

    Here’s to next time. :)​
     

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  2. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Awesome pics there Idle Hands and nicely written report - was a fun day out even with the new bruises lol
     
  3. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Jobs said the place had suffered badly in recent years, it's a disgrace how they have left it to rot in such a spectacular way :mad
     
  4. The Queen

    The Queen Super Duper Moderator
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    Great report and nicely done :)
     
  5. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks all :thumb

    Certainly was fun :) I wish I'd brought a decent tripod with me... I'm sure you'll have better pictures!

    True that... listing or no listing, it's hard to imagine how much of this can be salvaged now unless it's dismantled and rebuilt...
     
  6. Paradox

    Paradox 28DL Regular User
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    Lol trust me I definitely don't! Some going up in a few mins, many are similar in composition to yours just not as nice - I had a tripod I just forgot to use it!!!! :p:
     
  7. Bigjobs

    Bigjobs Official Smartarse
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    Lovely pictures there mate :)
     
  8. Kenni

    Kenni Derp Lover
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    Those poor stone stairs :(
     
  9. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Thank you mate :)

    Yup, hard to believe the wooden stairs rotting in the elements up top actually survived longer really...
     
  10. scrappy

    scrappy 28DL Regular User
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    Great pics, I do love this site, even when its the death trap it is!
     
  11. albino-jay

    albino-jay 28DL Regular User
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    Great pics and a great write up. It is such a shame when beautiful old buildings are left to get so bad. Will not be long at all till it collapses completely
     
  12. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Cheers mate :thumb

    Cheers Scrappy. Shame you couldn't make it for another trip this time. It was a nice evening to chill up there!
     
  13. scrappy

    scrappy 28DL Regular User
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    i know, that roof is great in the sun! have to get something sorted again in the area. had a great day and good to meet some new people.
     
  14. Idle Hands

    Idle Hands 28DL Regular User
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    Sounds good to me mate :)
     
  15. Matt Inked

    Matt Inked 28DL Full Member
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    Nice report! It reminds me of Nocton Hall but this looks a lot more impressive!
     
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