From Hough End Hall to Hallé St Peter’s: Manchester’s Enduring Legacy throughout HB&P history

Posted: 1 May 2024

Historic Buildings & Places champions heritage throughout England and Wales; yet the city of Manchester holds a very special place in our history.

In 1921, a mid-16th century brick house named Hough End Hall, situated in south Manchester, came under threat from a proposal to build a new arterial road through the building. This came to the attention of prominent local architect John Swarbrick, who successfully campaigned to have the road diverted and Hough End Hall saved.

This case was the trigger for Swarbrick to found the Ancient Monuments Society (AMS) on 2nd June 1924, to promote “the study and conservation of ancient monuments, historic buildings and fine old craftsmanship”.

The AMS began life at the John Rylands Library in central Manchester and for over 20 years Manchester was its only home. Although a second office was set up in 1945 in London, the Manchester branch continued until the two were amalgamated in London in 1953. Even then, the connection to Manchester was not severed; in addition to John Swarbrick, who was born and bred in Manchester, many of the key personalities of the Society had long-standing associations with the city. One of these was Raymond Wood-Jones, an alumnus of the University of Manchester School of Architecture, who created the prestigious academic series Transactions in 1953 and served as Editor until 1967, and then as Chairman from 1969-71.

The Society has never forgotten its Manchester roots; our most notable milestones have been celebrated in the city or its environs. The 21st anniversary meeting was held at Manchester Town Hall, the 50th anniversary was marked by a return to the John Rylands Library, the 70th anniversary address was given at Gawsworth Church, south of Manchester; and now, in our centenary year, we are proud to return to the home of our founding once more, to celebrate our achievements and look ahead to the future from Hallé St Peter’s, a recently restored Grade II listed former church and a remarkable example of our valuable heritage preserved and given new life for the future.

Registration for our 100th AGM is now open. We invite members of HB&P and their guests to come celebrate this great milestone with us. Find out more here.