Brabin, or Brabyn’s Hall stood in what is now Brabyn’s Park, Marple not far from Marple Station.
It was built around 1740 for Dr Henry Brabin (1710-1750), a Stockport physician. He married Elizabeth Lowe of Marple. Elizabeth was a descendant of Thomas Lowe (d 1667), who held the freehold of the estate. Her father, John Lowe is recorded as owning 40 acres in 1740. After Henry’s death Elizabeth stayed a few years at Marple and began to landscape the grounds.
Her daughter, and heir, Elizabeth, married Nathaniel Isherwood (1713-1765) on 30 May 1765 at St Mary in Stockport. Nathaniel was heir to the Marple and Bradshaw estates. Nathaniel died without issue a few months after the marriage,and his brother Thomas is said to have turned her out of Marple Hall, as a result she not unreasonably held a bitter resentment against the family, and as a result, the ghost Moll of Brabyns was said to haunt the nursery there.
Elizabeth junior married once more to Edward Whitehead, a Bolton solicitor and the couple moved to London in 1777, at which time the Hall was advertised for lease. Elizabeth senior probably moved to live with her daughter and son in law around this time and died in Soho in 1788.
In 1800, the estate and house was purchased by Nathaniel Wright (1762-1818) the son of John Wright (1718-1777) and Mary Hall (1734-1814). John Wright started out as a miner at the age of twelve, in Darley Dale, Derbyshire. By the age of 28 he was a mine agent. Nathaniel was born in Crich and came to Cheshire in 1793 where he began a long asssociation with the Poynton mines. He became very successful and also leased mine in Norbury and Middlewood, becoming friends and business associate with Samuel Oldknow and Benjamin Outram. At the time of his death he had interests in mining operations as far as Hyde, Stockport, Heaton Norris, Denton and Manchester.
Nathaniel extended the Brabyns estate, intending to build a mill there. He built a weir on the Goyt, but the scheme fell through, and the weir became known as Wright’s folly. He also commissioned Thomas Sherrat of the Salford Iron works to build a bridge to carry a carriage road to the estate from Compstall.
Nathaniel left his estate to his son, John (1800-1866) and his heirs, or failing that to Anne Hudson (1795-1884) his married niece. John sold off much of his father’s business interests and land, using the funds to purchase more land around Marple. He never married, and became a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate.
In 1846 George Wombwell, the impressario behind Wombwell’s Travelling Menagerie was coming towards Compstall from a show at New Mills when his carriage carrying lions swerved on the steep incline of Brabin’s Brow, directly opposite the Hall and toppled over killing a horse, but fortuitously the cage landed bars upwards so no lions escaped.
However, the place appears to have been something of an accident black spot. In November 1850, Mr and Mrs Waller, a cotton manufacturer and his wife, were returning from Manchester and the horse took fright at Marple Bridge, Mrs Waller was thrown out of the carriage at the entrance to the road to the estate, and was described as being in a shockingly mangled state. She was carried to the lodge house and tended to, but her injuries were such that she died still unconscious, two hours later.
When John died in 1866, the estates passed to Anne Hudson and she took up residence at the Hall. In 1868, after the death of her husband, Anne commenced a period of community involvement at the Hall. She almost immediately donated land for the construction of St Martin, Marple, next to the Railway Station. She also funded the construction of the church and laid the foundation stone there on 9 October 1869. The following August when the church was completed, she treated all the workers involved to a celebratory meal at the Norfolk Arms in Marple Bridge. She also hosted an annual New Year treat for Sunday and Day school children, giving them a tea, and Punch and Judy show, ending the festivities with currant cake and an orange.
Anne died in 1884, and her spinster daughter Maria Ann inherited the estate, on Maria Ann’s death in 1906, her sister¹ Fanny Marion (1851-1941) inherited the estate. Fanny also inherited £57,000 in 1906 (2020 £7m) from her cousin, Thomas Dolling Bolton MP (1841-1906), who had represented Derbyshire North East, a mining constituency and campaigned for a maximum eight hour day. He was also solicitor and advisor to her father. The funeral cortege started at the Hall, and he was buried at St Martin nearby.
During World War I the Hall became an Auxiliary Hospital and Convalescent Home for wounded soldiers. The hospital hosted the Duchess Of Westminster in March 1916 and we have two souvenirs of that day:
Still we had problems on the road outside the hall, in March 1916, a few days after the Royal Visit above, a lorry carrying cotton collided with a cart killing the horse and injuring a young boy, a passer by and the lorry driver who broke three ribs. The Hall being in use as a hospital at the time ensured speedy care this time.
Fanny also experienced personal tragedy during the conflict, her nephew, Lieutenant Denis Hudson, of the 109th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery was killed in action in January 1916. At the end of the war she was commended by the Secretary of State for War for the valuable services she carried out in the establishment, adminstration and maintenance of hospitals.
Fanny left instructions in her will that Marple, Romiley and Bredbury councils were to be given the first chance to buy the hall for a nominal sum which they reluctantly did in 1943. The intention was to open it to the public and in 1949 this eventually came to pass, when Brabyn’s Park was inaugurated. This was not without controversy, for in late 1944 the council felled over 500 trees on the estate some of which were healthy.
However, the plans to create a community building and memorial out of the Hall were not as successful and the Hall was demolished around 1953 after years of neglect. Here is the hall when used as a hospital:
¹ I think.
Stockport Ancient & Modern, Henry Heginbotham: Sampson, Low Marston, 1892.
© Allan Russell 2020