Buttress has been appointed to work on the restoration of the Grade II* Hopwood Hall in Rochdale, a project which has seen a Hopwood descendent relocate from Los Angeles to help rescue his ancestral home.
Hopwood Hall was built in the 16th century and features a number of items of historic and architectural interest including, Jacobean carvings, an ornate plaster ceiling designed by Edgar Wood and a fireplace thought to have been a gift from Lord Bryon, who was a guest in 1811. The hall has laid empty since the 1980s and is currently listed on Historic England's 'Heritage At Risk' register.
American actor and producer, Hopwood DePree, is a descendant of the Hopwood family, who owned Hopwood Hall for five-hundred years until the early 20th century. It is now owned by Rochdale Borough Council, which is managing and overseeing the emergency repair works.
The council has entered an exclusive agreement with Hopwood DePree, whereby he has the option of acquiring the hall at a future date when he develops a detailed plan which can provide for the preservation and protection of the building.
Emergency works on the hall began last spring, but structural repairs can now progress on other parts of the building thanks to a grant from Historic England and match-funding from Rochdale Council.
The repair package will be led by Associate and accredited conservation architect, Grant Prescott.
Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for culture at Rochdale Borough Council, says: “This appointment is a major step forward for this important project, which the council is helping to fund. We would love to see this fantastic building renovated and put back into use for the benefit of the community, and this painstaking work, which can now get under way, is a really important part of this process.”
Grant added: “Hopwood Hall is a magnificent building with fascinating stories from many different eras, not least the story of Hopwood DePree coming to live in the UK from LA to save his ancestral home. Sadly, this ancient hall, which dates back to 1426, has been on Historic England’s (HE’s) ‘At Risk Register’ for many years. However, its future now looks promising and we are excited to be working with Hopwood and the wider team to help save it.
"The recent award is a much -needed grant for emergency repairs from Historic England and match-funded by Rochdale Council for a combined total of £276,000."
He added: “In particular, the hall’s ornamental plasterwork and incredible carved joinery offers a fascinating challenge to me, as a conservation architect, and the team. However, by adopting a careful and methodical approach, we can ensure that it will remain standing for the different phases of work going forward and can offer a lasting, priceless piece of history for generations to come.
Hopwood says of the grant: "The partnership with Historic England and Rochdale Council has been wonderful and we are very eager to continue working with Buttress.
"Grant Prescott and his team are enthusiastic and passionate about rescuing Hopwood Hall and we look forward to stabilising the building to ensure it is around for generations to come."
Charles Smith, Principal Adviser for Heritage at Risk at Historic England, adds: "Repair of a building as important and fragile as Hopwood Hall requires experience and expertise. We're pleased that conservation specialists Buttress has been appointed to oversee this work, which will tackle the most urgent repair needs."
Photo credit: Andy Marshall / Photographer