Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Hockerley Hall And The Legend Of A Wager.

From the High Peak Reporter

With the sale of the Hockerley estate at Whaley Bridge what will happen to the early 17th century hall?

Uninhabited for some time, Hockerley Hall stands as a forlorn house lost in antiquity. Is demolition to be its fate in the march of progress?  One could write a lot about the place, of the friendly folk who lived there, for it was in the Wild family for four generations.

Often when I passed the house (I lived near it), I was reminded of an intriguing piece of history. When the windows were enlarged, a picture of a bird was discovered - a painting of a blue pigeon covering a small pane of glass. Who put it there? And for what purpose? Why wasn't it hung on a wall? An odd palce for a painting presenting one of those little posers which remains unsolved. And yet the picture is a clue to the story that the hall once changed hands as the result of a pigeon race. Wagers of this kind were not uncommon, but the stake of a hall is a pretty big one.

The late Col. Ramsden-Jodrell, showed me (in his office) the earliest manorial deed of Hockerley dated 1622, but the late Elias Wild firmly believed that the fabric is even older than the period recordedd in legal documents. He pointed to a stone in the wall bearing the date 1612, and also asserted that if the stonework under the gutter and wall above the porch were removedadate would be disclosed. I wonder if he wasright? It would be interesting to see if a date is found in the event of the hall being taken down.

A solid weatherbeaten medieval porch , a massive oak door pegged and studded without a nail in it, the small gateway with a stone head-piece, a rambling dark interior in which it is partly "Blind man's holiday". an inner wall built of twigs gathered from trees and covered with plaster, and the attic where the rats came at night - what an atmosphere for weaving an eerie story.

F. J. C.

The sale of the Hockerley Estate was held in April 1960. Image colourised by

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