Oakenrod Hall - Rochdale Observer, 1975

Oakenrod Hall - Rochdale Observer, 1975

Rochdale Observer - 27 June 1975

Oakenrod Hall was built by a family of farmers who found an effective way of settling a quarrel over their land – they used bows and arrows.

James Gartsyde of Rachdayle, whose family built the hall, once sent a pair of unwelcome visitors running with the sound of arrows whistling around their ears.

At the time of Henry VIII, a row blew up between Gartsyde and one Thomas Holt of Gizzlehurst, over who owed Oakenrod Hall and nearby land. Gartsyde declared his family had farmed the land for more than a century, paying an annual rent of 15s 6d to the Abbot of Whalley, but Henry VIII took the land form the church and sold it to Thomas Holt.

The new owner wanted Gartsyde and his labourers off the land and set a deadline for them to clear out. Gartsyde does not seem to have been impressed, because next we hear that he and a band of men armed with bows and arrows, swords, pikes and staves, attacked Holt and his wife.

They “riotously entered” the disputed land and began shooting arrows at the terrified couple. It seems to have done the trick, because by 1598 the lease of the hall was granted to the widow of Gartsyde’s son.

The family remained at Oakenrod for the next 100 years and during that time built the Hall as it stands today.

Solid

They started work in the mid 1600’s, probably replacing a timber and thatch house with a solid stone hall that now stands in seclusion just off Bury Road.

This family of yeoman farmers must have felt safe in their isolation because they built the Hall at a time when England was in the grip of a Civil War.

And it may well have been built in a burst of confidence, when Gartsyde felt they had risen from being simple farmers to the rank of local gentry.

Over the years, little has survived of Oakenrod Hall as the Gartsydes knew it. But apart from the shell of the building, there can still be found three of the original windows.

Original

The plain stone mullioned and transome windows are in the west frontage of the Hall and are believed still to have their old diamond quarries with wide white painted leading.

In one corner of the hall – now sub-divided into cottages – remains part of a fine old oak staircase. This has twisted balusters and a large twisted newel-pole, reaching the ceiling and supporting a beam above.

The building also retains its original stone door lintel over the main entrance, although the original oak door and its iron hinges preserved well into this century have gone.

Oakenrod Hall was radically altered by Edmund Butterworth, a merchant, who took it after the Gartsyde family left. He tried to bring the hall in line with 18th century tastes by building on a wing in plain brick.

In 1787, the Hall was passed to the Royds family, who held it for more than a century and let it as cottages.

In the 1920’s the Hall was said to be in a state of “semi dilapidation” and the crumbling chimneys had to be rebuilt in brick.

Woodland

Oakenrods stone and slate structure mark it out from other surviving halls around Rochdale. And its rather late date of construction may leave it without the distinctive Tudor charm of other halls. Wild boar still roamed the forest of Spotland when the first axe-stroke fell to hack out the site of Oakenrod Hall, from dense woodland above the river Roch.

The place is first mentioned by name in a deed of about 1238, when it was described as an “assart” (clearing) called Akenrode.

'Oakenrod' is old English and means a clearing in the oaks, or literally, a place rid of oaks.

And as its earliest history reveals, it has roots which go deep into Rochdale’s medieval past.

Taken from the Rochdale Observer, 1975