MUNCASTER HALL

Unlike the other old halls of Rainford with their long histories Muncaster Hall was purely Victorian in its origins and architecture. In 1857 a young Richard Pennington, the son and heir of a very wealthy cotton mill owner of Hindley, was obliged to find a suitable residence away from his home town in which to set up home with Elizabeth Cash, a young mill girl with whom he had formed an intimate relationship. Richard and Elizabethís second child was born at School Brow in January 1858 and in the same year an old farm house in Rainford known as Mount Pleasant became vacant on the death of shoe maker Daniel Rosbotham. Richard acquired the farm house from Danielís trustees and in October 1859 their third child was born there. Following the death of his mother who had strongly opposed any question of marriage between them Richard & Elizabeth were finally married in Liverpool in 1861.

Throughout this time Richard assisted in the management of the cotton mills at Hindley and eventually became the sole owner of both the Lowe Mill and the Worthington Mill. During the next five years he bought several farms and houses in Rainford and entertained his wealthy friends to shooting parties over his lands. It was the scornful remarks of these visitors about the size and state of his house that prompted Richard to build the grand stone mansion house on the site of Mount Pleasant and to set out the gardens, lake and parkland surrounding it. The work was completed in 1866.

Richard took an active part in village life. He was the first chairman of the Local Board, he entertained the old folks of the village to a substantial dinner every New Year, he rebuilt and enlarged the old Church School in Cross Pit Lane, and was generous with his time and money to many causes. Richard & Elizabeth had seven more children, the last two being twin boys in 1870, but marital differences soon arose between them due to Elizabethís passion for drink and in December 1874 they became legally separated. Three years later, when Richard discovered that she had formed an adulterous connection with a former gamekeeper of his, he petitioned for divorce.

Richard died on the 10th of July 1887 at the age of fifty seven years leaving all his estate in the hands of his Trustees for the benefit of all his children until they reached the age of twenty one. After lengthy court proceedings the Rainford and Hindley properties were put up for auction in January 1895 and the whole of the Rainford lots including Muncaster Hall, the farms, cottages & houses totalling 315 acres were bought by the Earl of Derby for £37,000. One month later the furniture and other effects at Muncaster Hall were disposed of in a three day auction sale which left the house a stark and empty shell.

The hall and its surrounding park were leased by the Earl to a succession of tenants, the last being Mr A. R. Pilkington and when he departed in 1938 the property was offered for sale. No buyer could be found until 1940 when Mr Richard Heyes, late of Mossborough Hall, bought the estate for the purpose of poultry breeding and agriculture but the hall was immediately requisitioned by the War Department for living quarters and mess for the officers of the several military units which had been set up in the village. After the war Mr Heyes and his son James resumed their poultry business using the hall itself for the deep litter system of egg production. In the late 1950ís Mr James Heyes sold a few plots of land for house building and over the following years larger plots were sold until almost the entire estate was covered with houses and bungalows.

Inevitably the hall and its outbuildings were demolished and by 1966, just 100 years since its erection, no trace of the once elegant mansion remained.

 

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