Aspenshaw Hall was originally the seat of the Buckley family. It passed by marriage to the Bower family, a family of some note in the neighbourhood. Names of two of the Bowers appear on the Trust Deed of the first Hayfield Grammar School erected in Jumble lane in 1719, namely Thomas Bour, of Worksop, yeoman and George Bour of Aspenshaw.
Upon the wall beneath the tower of Hayfield Church, there hangs a board. The painting thereon is very curious and highly interesting.
It is the ground plot of the old church and contains the names of the free holders, who contributed to the support of the curate, the amount of their contribution, the size of their holdings and their seats in the Old Chapel.
Among the items appear: - Buckley Bower, for Great Aspenshaw and his part of Thornsett Demesne, 3s. 2d. The board is dated 1735.
Buckley Bower was a lover of the chase, but allegedly as neither horse or rider was disposed to risk their lives by ‘taking the fences’ it is said that he kept a servant to accompany him on these occasions for the purpose of taking down the same when required. This servant was according to George William Newton was Ben Cooke who “with one arm, hunted his masters pack of harriers for a long period of years, until, both from age and infirmity, he could no longer follow them.”
The Bower family were the first to recognise the industrial potential of the area around the Torrs and in addition to farming developed a Fulling mill, a Paper Mill and a Tanning Yard in the gorge around 1700. Their activities generated the family considerable wealth and property over three generations.
In 1710 George Bower the youngest son of Edward Bower married Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Buckley, of Aspenshaw and in 1722 inherited the Aspenshaw Hall and estate. Their son was Buckley Bower. Though his wealthy background meant Buckley had no need to work he became a successful Stockport lawyer. His father died in 1753 and Buckley inherited Aspenshaw and its extensive lands which he like his father continued to expand. Buckley was a far sighted man who enclosed and improved a large portion of the Thornsett uplands in 1774. Transforming the landscape, building farmhouses, constructing walls and changing moorland to productive pasture some half a century before the surrounding areas saw the same changes. Buckley married Frances Pennee in 1747. They had 4 children George Buckley, Robert who died in infancy, Frances Clare and Lucy
There is a monument in Hayfield Church to the memory of George Buckley which reads:-
“To the memory of the Rev George Buckley Bower B.D. son of Buckley and Frances Bower, of Aspenshaw, in the county of Derby. Late rector of Great Billing, in the county of Northampton, and Archdeacon of Richmond, in the county of Yorkshire, who died at Aspenshaw, on the 20th day of December 1800. In the 52nd year of his age and was interred by his afflicted father under the Ollersett Pew. His education was public and liberal, and he was eminently distinguished for piety and learning. Also to the respected memory of Buckley Bower of Aspenshaw, who died on the 22nd of July 1803, in the 82nd year of his age and was interred with his beloved son. He was eminent for knowledge, integrity and generosity in the profession of the law. His benevolence was general, and when burdened with years and infirmities his attendance upon divine worship was constant, devout and exemplary.”
Aspenshaw Hall and grounds were afterwards in the possession of George William Newton who inherited them outright 1830 as the only surviving descendent (grandson) of Buckley Bower. George’s mother Lucy married Robert Newton in 1782 and George their second son was born in 1788. George spent nine years at Oxford University and gained B.A. and M.A. degrees. In August 1810, he married Louisa Warre at St. Martins in the Field, London. Following the death of her father Buckley Bower in 1803. George’s mother Lucy inherited the estate at Ollersett and built a new residence there, Ollersett Hall. George and his wife took up residence at Taxal Lodge where he became a popular local magistrate and country gentleman, indeed he and his wife moved in the highest circles of county society.
Following the death of his aunt Frances Clare Bower in 1827, George inherited Aspenshaw and three years later on the death of his mother the Ollersett estate. In 1830, he and his wife moved to Aspenshaw.
George vigorously purchased land around Ollersett expanding his estate, buying farms and acquiring land via the Allotment of the Commons. In addition to the 195 acre estate at Aspenshaw he held the 158 acre Ollersett Hall estate, 60 acres at Cold Harbour, 10 acres at Pingot, 37 acres at Gibb Hey, 7 acres with cottages and the Hare and Hounds at Low Leighton, 19 acres at Feeding Hey, the 72 acre Whitehead’s estate, 45 acres at the Ravensleach estate, 48 acres at the Overlee estate, 41 acres at the Hague Fold estate and nearly 200 acres of the commons along with several smaller estates at Diglands, New Houses, Marsh Lane, Hills, Beard and Wild Meadow.
He also began surrounding his holdings with a 6 foot high walls capped with flags, a lengths of this can be seen on Oven Hill Road and Laneside. He built the Hare and Hounds as a hunting lodge and erected the Thornsett Bridge (by the Band Room) and developed the towns first water system piping water from his estates into New Mills.
He was author of a book on forest trees and another called Rural Sports and How to Enjoy Them. He opened a new coal pit at Aspenshaw in April 1829, and greatly assisted in the rebuilding of Hayfield Church, to which he devoted both time and money.
It seems George was too vigorous in acquiring property and by 1836 his finances were in a poor state prompting the following advert:-
Extensive Sale at Aspenshaw Hall. New Mills. TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION. by Mr. JOSEPH WHATMORE. on Mon. Jan. 25th 1836. and for four following days, at Aspenshaw Hall, commencing at half-past-ten in the morning prompt.
The whole of the valuable and modern household furniture. china, glass. linen, paintings and books. containing upwards of 700 volumes. in which will be found the works of the most admired authors; the valuable paintings (in oil) in richly carved gilt frames. with a collection of rare prints by the finest masters; also a brown horse, excellent Stanhope Gig by Holmes. Milk cow and a quantity of hay. Kitchen and brewing utensils , and other valuable effects.
The Household Furniture embraces handsome mahogany chairs with horsehair seatings, two with arms. sideboard, easy chairs with spring cushions and bolsters, two easy chairs with cane backs and loose spring cushions, desk and book cases, wine cooler. lady's work tables, dining table with four loose leaves. dumb waiter, turned pillar. claw feet and castors, mahogany wardrobe. mahogany chest of drawers. washstands, dressing tables, cane-seated chairs. toilet glasses of large dimensions, in mahogany frames, very superior Turkey and Brussells carpets. as planned to the rooms. Time piece in black gilt.
Twelve rosewood chairs with cane seats and loose cushions, rosewood table with two drawers, ditto couches with spring cushions and pillars. ditto splendid cabinet. fire screens &c. lofty and substantial four-post mahogany bedsteads with handsome carved poles. draperies &c. complete. Hair mattresses, prime live goose feather beds, bolsters and pillows, excellent bed and table linen, blankets and counterpanes, damask tablecloths, capital dresser with drawers and cupboard. The kitchen department is complete with every convenience. Horse, two carts, hackney saddles and bridles.
A quantity of timber together with a general assortment of Farming Implements.
The Newton’s left Aspenshaw at the beginning of 1836 and Louisa died at Cheltenham in 1838. George returned to Ollersett late in his life, ending his days at Ollersett Hall.
George William Newton died on December 23rd 1871, aged 83 years and is interred under the tower of St. George’s Church, New Mills, in a vault prepared by his own direction when the church was built in 1830.
In March 1836 the Reverend Irving Carlyle, incumbent of New Mills rented the hall with the intention of opening a boarding school for young gentlemen.
The following lines were written by Mrs G. W. Newton, at Christmas in the year 1833, on the completion of a new waterwheel built at their works: -
When I these foolish rhymes begun
I wished to make a little fun.
If I in this attempt succeed
I shall be very glad indeed
Some old fir trees which long had stood
An ornament in Barrow wood,
Must be cut down, and glad were we
When we had found a crooked tree.
A water wheel is wanted, and
The tunnellers are at a stand.
They have no air, they say, and I
Believe this time they do not lie.
Wilds, the sawyers, first must come;
Peter, fetch them from their home;
Bid them whet their saw, for they
Must cut the trees this very day.
The water wheel is now complete
And it must go to Ollersett;
Thomas and the horses are
Very proud to take it there.
Mr. Taylor took a part,
And helped to place it in the cart.
To Etchells greatest praise is due,
To Torkington and Bancroft too!
They're all three very clever fellows,
With Frost to strike and blow the bellows.
"Master, you must name this wheel!"
A nice excuse for rum and ale.
''Must I name it? Let me see,
Puffing Billy it shall be."
Colliers have you seen today,
Puffing Billy work away?
O1d Hugh Booth was very tough
But could not turn half fast enough
There now is no excuse for you
And you have not much to do;
Do not say we have no air."
Puffing Billy's always there.
He will work both day and night,
And never stops to drink and fight!
Billy never goes to wakes,
Adam's Ale is all he takes.
And he's such a good supply,
I hope he never will be dry.
For the supply he ought to thank
Jacob, Henry and Little Frank.
John Wild was also sent with wood.
Came back by noon - how very good,
For he did not as usual stop
At Nancy's for a little drop.
And now I think I've named you all.
Oh no! Who was it made the wall?
Jack Collier led the stone, I think,
But Adams ale he could not drink;
He said, I cannot with you stop,
I want a little malt and hop.
At Greenwood I had better stay,
And give the tits a bite of hay.
Sampson will bring my dinner there,
And I can get a pint of beer;
An alehouse score I soon can pay.
With a load of coals from Aspenshay.
A merry Christmas and a happy year
To all who are assembled here;
I hope before the season ends
That we shall welcome many friends,
All glad that we at last have found
The hidden treasure underground.
And then you all must come and dine.
And drink success to the Brund Edge Mine.
The women all have had a share
In cooking this old English fare.
Have done their best to please you all –
I hope the pudding was not small.
Let it be clearly understood
That Sarah made the sauce so good;
Frost hopes the beef was done enough.
And that you did not find it tough.
She really is the queen of cooks.
But does not eat much - by her looks;
Elizabeth the goose has basted,
Sure better bird was never tasted.
I hope that those who love abuse,
Won't say the girl is like a goose.
John Collier did the turkey cram.
For sarten! and he fed the ham;
John Frost it was who brewed the beer
I'm| very sorry he's not here.
John Pyecroft laid the cloth and will
Most readily your glasses fill;
John Fernley is shav'd I see,
I grieve to think how cold he'll be:
''How oft dost shave quoth I.
''Once a month, '' he answers. ''Twi?''
Is that Samuel Hyde I see?
A very famous shot is he.
But sometimes trespasses, I hear
Poor Joseph cannot join the party;
I hope he'll soon be well and hearty;
James Turnock some good coals did bring.
He well deserves the name of king.
Bill Ashmore would have brought them down,
But feared the king would lose his crown.
For Bill, as willing as the rest,
Is always glad to do his best.
He'll clean the knives or brush a shoe,
Or anything there is to do.
Says Mary Frost, ''I'm quite forgot."
No! that will never be her lot.
She made the tablecloth so white.
Which is a very cleanly sight;
She is so fond of using soap,
She'll always wash for us. I hope.
And now. My friend, these lines are ended.
Which had I time I could have mended.
I hope you will not think me silly
For making rhymes on Puffing Billy.
It will be a shameful thing,
If you don't drink to Church and King.
Then if you wish to favour me.
Drink your master's health with three times three.
We’ll drink to you both and a bumper we'll have.
We wish you good health and long may you live.
Your beef it was prime, such puddings are rare.
We return you our thanks for such good English fare;
We care not how soon we come here to dine,
And drink success to the Brund Edge Mine.
We'll do our best to get to the treasure.
And when we are at it we'll give it no leisure;
We long for to see the black diamonds in view
And be about changing for shining Peru.
May health and prosperity attend us all here.
And may we assemble at Christmas next year.
The Barrow Wood referred to is at Ollersett. James Etchells, the pits underground manager, was the father of Mr. Etchells, whose family were long the landlord’s of the Queen’s Arms, Newtown. Torkington overlooker at Birch Vale was the grandfather of Mr. Amos and Miss Dawson of Little Hayfield. Thomas Wardle was the grandfather of the brothers Wardle, of Birch Hall. Mr John Taylor was formerly of the Royal Oak Hotel, Chapel-en-le-Frith. The reply is supposed to have been written by Mr Taylor’s uncle.
During the time of the cotton famine, 1861-3 Aspenshaw was in the possession of Henry Lees Esq. who spent a considerable sum in renovating it, laying out the surrounding grounds, etc, and thus finding work for the cotton operatives thrown out of employment by the American Civil War. They were paid by the hour, and settled up before leaving at night.
Subsequently the hall was occupied by J. E. Sale, Esq. one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Factories (son of the late Rev. Canon Sale, of Sheffield). Afterwards Mr. Evans, of the Manchester Evening News resided at the hall.
Later the hall was occupied by Mr. W. G. Bagnall, chairman of the Hayfield Rural District Council. At the opening of the footpath from Hayfield to the Woodlands in 1897, he was presented by Sir William Bailey with a copy of the deed establishing the right of way. Mr. Wright Hadfield subsequently resided at the hall, and later, Mr. Hobson, who later occupied Park Hall.
In one of the cottages near the hall was born and resided Mr Aaron Ashton who lived to the age of 104.
Last Wills and Testaments
Edmund BUCKLEY of Aspinshaw: 3 April 1723
Maternal Grandfather of Buckley Bower
In the Name of God Amen the Eighth day of October in the year of our Lord God One Thousand Seaven Hundred Twenty and Two I Edmund BUCKLEY of Aspinshaw in the parish of Glossop and County of Darby Yeoman Being Aged and infirm in Body But of Sound and perfect memory Blessed be God for the Same and knowing the uncertainty of this Transitory Life and that all flesh is but Dust and that in the midst of Life wee are in Death and Being minded as much as in mee Lyeth to preferre peace and unity Amongst my Relations after my Decease Do therefore make this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following That is to Say first and principally I commend my Soul in to the hands of almighty God who gave it and to his Blessed Son my Saviour Jesus Christ hoping in and by his meritorious Death and passion to have full and free pardon and forgiveness of all my Sins and to inherit Everlasting Life and to be made partaker with his holy Elect in his heavenly Kingdom and my Body I commit to the Earth to be decently Buried at the Discretion of my Executor herein after named and Concerning the Disposition of the all Such worldly Estate as it hath pleased Almighty God in his great goodness to Bless mee with all I Give Devise and Bequeath the Same in manor following And I Do hereby Give and Devise unto my Daughter Elizabeth the wife of George BOWER and the heirs of her Body all those new purchased lands called Blakhall ffields and Bankhead peeces to Defend and go to her Issue in the Same mannor as all the [ ] lands at Aspinshaw by the Settlement thereof are Limited to [ ] And I hereby Give and Devise unto my Daughter Elizabeth BOWER the sume of Ten pounds of Lawfull money of Great Britain And I hereby give and Devise unto my Son in law John CARRIGNTON the Sume of One Hundred and twenty pounds of Lawfull money at Six months after my Deceas And I Do hereby Give and Devise unto Elizabeth BOWER my grand Daughter the Sume of five pounds of Lawfull money when shee attains the Age of twenty and One years And I Do hereby give and Devise unto Samuel BUCKLEY my grand Son the Sume of Two Hundred pounds of Lawfull money and the Same to be improved By my Executor for his advantage untill hee shall attain to the age of Twenty and one Years And I also give and Devise unto the Said Daniel BUCKLEY and his heirs for Ever all my housing and Lands called Bradenleach Tenement in Bowden midlecale in the County of Darby now in the possession of Edward HOYD and to Enter at my Deceas and it is my will that my Son in law John CARRINGTON shall after my deceas take the tuition and care of the Education of my grandson Daniel BUCKLEY and to be paid Reasonable for his trouble concerning him and to Receive the Rents Bradenleach Tenement towards the montaining and [ ] [ ] said grandson in his minority and what falls short thereof By the Rent of Bradenleach to Receive from Executor out to the profits of the Two hundred pounds to him given and I Do hereby give and Devise unto James BUCKLEY William BUCKLEY Mary BUCKLEY and Sarah BUCKLEY Sons and Daughters of William BUCKLEY Late of New Thame Deceased the Sume of Twenty pounds of Lawfull money Equally to be devided amongst them as they Succesily Shall attain to the age of One and Twenty Years I give and Devise unto Isaack LEES Son of Thomas LEES of Swaincroft Twenty Shillings And it is my will and I Do hereby give in Trust to the uses hereafter Limited, unto George BOWER of Aspinshaw Thomas GODWORTH of Raworth and Joseph HIBBERT of Whitle The Sume of forty pounds upon Special Trust and Confidence That they the Said Trustees and their Successors for Ever Shall and will Improve the Sume and the profitts thereof yearly to Lay out in Clothing with Two Letters E: and B: or for [ rming] of the poor within the Liberties of Thorset Beard Whitle and Oulersett at the Discretion of the Said Trustees and their Successors who Shall by them be Elected and Chosen Trustees to Succeed them for Ever So always as the person unto whom the hous and Lands att Aspinshaw Shall Com may for Ever be admited and Chosen to be one of the Three Trustees for the uses aforesaid and commence twelve months after my Deceas and So to continue for Ever and it is my will and I Do hereby Give and Devise unto James BUCKLEY my grand Son one Chest with what is Therein which was his mothers when hee Shall attain the age of one and Twenty years and the said Chest to Stand at Aspinshaw untill that Time But if my said grand Son happen to diey in his minority Then I give the Said Chest with what is There in unto my Two grand Children Buckley BOWER and Elizabeth BOWER Equally Between them and it is my will That after my funerall Expenses probate of this my Last will and all other Eclesiastical Duties paid and Discharged Then hereby I Give and Devise all the Rest Remainder and Residue of all my goods Chattels Rights Credits houshould goods husbandrie ware money jewels plate and personal Estate Whatsoever (not by mee heretofore given) unto my son in Law George BOWER and Last I Do hereby nominate and appoint my son in Law George BOWER of Aspinshaw Sole and Whole Executor of this my Last Will and Testament hopeing hee will see the Same Duly Executed as my Trust is in him Reposed and I Do hereby Revoke Disanul and Utterly make all former wills By mee heretofore made and in Testimony That this is my Last Will and Testament I have hereunto Sett my hand and Seall this Tenth Day of October in the year of our Lord god 1722
Sealled Signed Published and Declared to be the Last Will and Testament of Edmund BUCKLEY in the presence of us who as witnesses hereof Subscribed our names in the presence of the Testator
James BUCKLEY; John TOMLINSON; Tho: LEES
George BOWER of Aspinshaw: 17 October 1753
Father of Buckley Bower
In the Name of God Amen I George BOWER of Aspinshaw in the parish of Glossop in the County of Derby Gentleman, being of sound mind and perfect Mind and Memory (Praised be God) but Considering the Uncertainty of this Morale Life do make publish and declare this my Last Will and Testament in manner herein after mentioned Where as I have severale Years ago Absolutely Conveyed my Real Estate unto my Son Buckley BOWER and his heirs and part of my personal Estate But as Concerning such part of my personal Estate which I am now possessed off or any ways intitled unto I dispose thereof in manner following And first I order that all my Debts and funerale Expenses be paid and discharged And then I Give unto my Daughter Elizabeth BUCKLEY the Sum of One hundred pounds to be paid to her at the end of Twelve Months next after my Decease Also I Give unto my Faithfull Servant Rachel FORSTER the Sum of Ten pounds to be paid her at the end of Three Months next after my Decease. And as Concerning the residue and remainder of my personal Estate I Give and Bequeath the same unto my Son Buckley BOWER and appoint him sole Executor hereof Revoking all former Wills by me at any Time heretofore made.
In Witness whereof I have hereunto Sett my Hand and Seal this fifth day of April in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and ffifty Three
Sealed Signed published and declared by the above named George BOWER the Testator as and for his Last Will and Testament in the Sight and presence of us who have Subscribed our Names and Witnesses to the due Execution hereof in the Sight and presence of the said Testator
Samuel HOPWOOD; Ann HOPWOOD; John CLAYTON