Saturday, 9 March 2013

(12) Ackers of Great Moreton Hall

Ackers coat of arms
The Great Moreton estate was bought for £57,107 in 1793 by James and Holland Ackers of Bank House, Manchester, the sons of a fustian manufacturer from Bolton (Lancs), who had made a fortune from land speculation in Manchester.  Holland Ackers died in 1801, leaving a young son, and during his minority James lived at Great Moreton.  In 1809, when his nephew came of age, James built Lark Hill House, Salford as an alternative residence, and Great Moreton passed to Holland’s descendants.  His grandson, George Holland Ackers (1812-72) inherited in 1836 and employed Edward Blore to build a large new house on a new site in 1841-46.  On the expiry of his widow’s life interest in about 1900, the house passed to his elder daughter Georgiana (d. 1907), the wife of Sir Charles Shakerley, bt..  At her death it passed to her second son, who changed his name to Shackerley-Ackers in 1908, but later reverted to Shakerley.  He sold the house for use as a school in 1931, and inherited the family baronetcy on the death of his elder brother in 1943.

Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire)

A timber-framed house built c.1606 for John Bellot was repaired by the Ackers brothers when they bought the estate in 1793, but little more was done until George Holland Ackers inherited the estate and a considerable fortune in 1836.  He took down the old house and replaced it in 1841-46 with the present large castellated Gothic mansion designed by Edward Blore.  
Great Moreton Hall in 2011.  Image by Galatas.  Licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

Blore's new house is built of dark Mow Cop stone and has asymmetrical elevations, a square tower over the staircase, a porte-cochere and corner turrets.  The Great Hall at the rear is easily distinguished by its high-pitched roof and Gothic windows; inside it has a hammer-beam ceiling (modelled on that at Wiston Park (Sussex) which Blore was restoring at the time), canted bay window, dais, screen and minstrels gallery, armorial glass and so on; much of the detail is copied from Bayons Manor (Lincs).   
Great Moreton Hall from the air in 1929, from the Aerofilms Collection © English Heritage

The interior is planned in a traditional Georgian fashion around a central hall, and much of the interior is lined with Caen stone.  The staircase hall, on the opposite side of the screens passage to the great hall, has a lierne vault above an imperial staircase.  The saloon has alabaster chimneypieces with ogee arches and knightly figures, and there are further good interiors, kitted out with ribbed and bossed panelled ceilings, carved chimneypieces, and traceried oak doors and shutters.  The house belonged to Manchester City Council from 1931-81 and was used as a special school, but was sold and became a hotel and conference centre.  It is now once more in private occupation.

Previous owners: Sir John Bellot, 1st bt. (c.1619-74); to son, Sir Thomas Bellot, 2nd bt. (1651-99); to son, Sir Thomas Bellot, 3rd bt. (1679-1709); to brother, Sir John Bellot, 4th bt. (c.1680-1714), after whose death sold to Edward Powys (1710-69); to son, Thomas Jelf Powys (c.1744-1805); sold 1793 to Holland Ackers (b. 1744); to son, George Ackers (1788-1836); to son, George Holland Ackers (1812-72); to widow, Harriott Susan Ackers (d. c1900); to daughter, Lady Georgiana Harriott Shakerley (d. 1907); to younger son, Sir George Herbert Shackerley (1863-1945), who sold 1931 to Manchester City Council, which sold 1981 to Gerald James Alliott (fl. 1986)...Mr & Mrs Christopher Shaw (fl. 2008).

Lark Hill House, Salford (Lancashire)

Lark Hall Mansion in 1825. © Salford City Council

Lark Hill House as part of Salford Museum, prior to demolition in 1936.  © Salford City Council

A large plain five-by-six bay brick house of two storeys above a basement, built in 1809 for James Ackers, with more than forty rooms.  In 1845 the small estate was sold to the Council as a public park (Peel Park), and a few years later the house became a museum and library.  It was extended for these municipal purposes in 1852, 1857, 1864, 1868 and 1878, and the original house was demolished in 1936 as part of a further extension.

Previous owners: James Ackers (1752-1824); sold after his death to William Garnett; sold 1845 to Salford Borough Council.

Ackers family of Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire)

Ackers, Holland (1744-1801), of Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire), land speculator and timber merchant in Manchester. Born 6 Feb 1744, son of George Ackers, fustian manufacturer of Bolton (Lancs) and his wife Ellen Bonney.  He married 23 Oct. 1787 Elizabeth Filkin (d. 1800) and had issue:
(1) George Ackers (1788-1836) (q.v.).
He lived at Bank House, Manchester, until he purchased the Great Moreton estate in Cheshire in 1793 with his brother James (see below).
He died 17 April 1801, aged 56, and his will was proved on 4 July 1801.

Ackers, George (1788-1836), of Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire). Born 19 Aug. 1788, son of Holland Ackers (b. 1744) and his wife Elizabeth (nee Filkin).  He married 8 November 1811 Harriott Dell, 2nd daughter of Henry Hutton esq. of Cherry Willingham (Lincs) (who married 2nd, 1841, Col. William Edward Powell of Nanteos (Card.), MP) and had issue:
(1) George Holland Ackers (1812-72) (q.v.).
He inherited Great Moreton Hall from his father in 1801.
He died 22 November 1836, aged 48.  His will was proved in London on 4 December 1836 and in Chester on 2 January 1837.

Ackers, George Holland (1812-72), of Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire).  He was born 10 August 1812, son of George Ackers (1788-1836) and his wife Harriott Dell, daughter of Henry Hutton of Lincoln.  He served in Royal Horse Guards (Blues) and was Lt-Col. Queens Own Staffs Yeomanry.  He was appointed DL and JP for Cheshire and was High Sheriff of Cheshire 1852 and Commodore of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, in which capacity he published Universal Yacht Signals in 1847.  He owned and raced the yacht Dolphin from 1837-40 and later a 393 ton schooner, Brilliant, built in 1839.  He married 23 January 1838 Harriott Susan, daughter of Henry William Hutton of Beverley (Yorks) and had issue:
(1) Georgiana Harriott Ackers (d. 1907), m. 14 July 1858 Sir Charles Watkin Shakerley, 2nd bt. (1833-98) and had issue;
(2) Constance Marianne Ackers (d. 1920), m. 1872 Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean, 10th bt (1835-1936) and had issue 4s 1d.
He inherited Great Moreton Hall (Cheshire) from his father in 1836 and rebuilt it to the designs of Edward Blore, 1841-46.  At his death the estate passed to his widow (d. c1900) and then to his elder daughter, who left it to her second son, George Herbert Shakerley.
He died 20 January 1872 at 15 Hyde Park Terrace, London, aged 59.  His will was proved in Principal Probate Registry, 20 April 1872 (effects under £45,000).

Ackers family of Lark Hill, Salford (Lancs)

Ackers, James (1752-1824) of Lark Hill, Salford (Lancs) and Putney (Surrey). Described as ‘the father of the silk trade in Manchester’; Borough Reeve of Manchester, 1792; Col. of Manchester and Salford Volunteers; High Sheriff of Lancashire, 1800.  He was unmarried but had a mistress, Ann Coops, by whom he produced an illegitimate son:
(1) James Ackers (1811-68), for whom see the next post.
Built Lark Hill Place in 1809 on the site now occupied by Salford Museum; the house was sold after his death.
Died in Birmingham, 23 March 1824, aged 71.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850, pp. 2-3; 1900; P. de Figueiredo & J. Treuherz, Cheshire Country Houses, 1987, pp. 103-06; J.M. Robinson, A guide to the country houses of the North-West, 1991, pp. 40, 214; Hartwell, Hyde, Hubbard & Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cheshire, 2nd edn, 2011, pp. 379-80; Country Life, 4 December 1986, p. 1840. 

Where are their papers?

Ackers of Great Moreton Hall: deeds, estate papers, corresp and accounts, 1639-1884 [Manchester Archives M159 and E16]; deeds, 1648-1927 [Lancashire ArchivesDDSL]

This post was last revised on 20th January 2014


  1. In 1831 Sophia Phipps (widow of John Phipps of Sawston, Cambridgeshire) litigated in Chancery against James Ackers who was in his minority claiming she was due the rents of some the property left to him by his father (also James)during his minority as she was 'Heir at Law'. This James was not baptised Ackers but COOPS and was the inheritor of James Ackers as long as he took the name of Ackers, this is not to say he was not James' son as he also had a sister baptised Susan Ackers Coops.

    1. The James Ackers referred to in this comment is the subject of the next post on the blog. Both this James Ackers' will and the law reports of the Chancery case make it clear he was acknowledged as the illegitimate son of this James Ackers. I was not aware, however, that he had a sister, and would be grateful to know the source of this information.

  2. No mention of the Alliott family who bought Great Moreton Hall in 1981.

    1. Thank you for the information; I have now added a reference.

  3. As you probably know, many children of the 1950's and 60's attended Great Moreton Hall School. I was one such and I can say with great certainty that my time there changed my life forever, for the better. The educational standards were very high and the teachers and staff were incredibly kind and helpful. As poverty stricken children we could not believe our luck on being taken to this magnificent property after being duly assessed as half starved by the welfare doctors on Roby Street, Manchester. I was never beaten or abused and those long summer days bring back the most treasured memories of my life.

    1. Hi Bill
      I have similar memories very happpy times, I think the head master was mr Hoyland when I was there, I lived in a pub in ardwick green with my mum and dad the smoke was killing me so they sent me to the country I thrived on the fresh air, remember playing British bull dog in the court yard and goin on the bus on Sunday to church now live in Australia all the best

  4. I went to school here in 1981. There were two teachers and two pupils to start with. The classes were in the new buildings behind the kitchen garden, but we used to wander around the estate and hall. I loved the old wine cellars and seeing old maps in the classrooms in the hall. Will never forget the pets graves, the rhododendron flowering and the Canada Geese on the lake. Was a magical time in my childhood. I can find no mention of the school online now.

  5. My dad worked there when it was a school he was one of the gardeners he was there until he retired in the 70s

    1. what was your dads name I went there when I was a school loved it

  6. sorry to shatter your dreams about great moreton hall school. as a young lad about 5 years old i was put in the school as i had learning disabiltes and use two have blackouts and fits as a young lad, as for the reason the manchester city councils was i needed some fresh air. as they pulled me from my family and i didnt know what was going on, and all of the time all i was
    crying for my mum. and two make it even worse i was bullied and made two do things with with the other boys i didnt like two do, as im a now 60 yr old man i now suffer from depression and other medical aliments. as it all stems from being at that school.

  7. I attended Great Moreton Hall, at the time described as a home for delicate children, in the late 50's (the headmaster was Mr. Hoyland). Coming from inner city Manchester (Hulme) it was both a revelation and slightly unnerving to be pitched into a grand country estate. I have to agree with Bill Seymour that it had a profound effect on a city boy. I can still see the lawn leading down to the woods, the boating lake across the fields, and the allotments where we gardened. We would have occasional days out to Congleton and walks to Mow Cop, and of course church on Sundays. I'm sorry for Anonymous who had such a hard time - it must have been 10 years or so after I was there. But my memories are almost wholly positive.

  8. Hi Alan
    Yes remember the name mr Hoyland I was there I think around 1960 remember the bus taking us t church in congleton, sweet tins at dinner with your number on it they would call your number out and you had to go up to the table at the front of the dining hall take your tin back you your table ,often you could hear my last couple of malteasers rolling around the tin, do you remember folding your clothes at night and being marked 1-10 for neat, my thoughts are all good and Great Moreton hall was great for me, all the best pete

  9. My dad worked there in the 70's think he was a maintenance man, I remember sitting in the kitchen during school holidays sucking primula from the tubes

  10. Hi my name is bill and I was there in the 1950,s and l remember going on a sharabang into the town centre on a Saturday to the pictures or to the park and getting on the rowing boats on the river dean and climbing what they called the monkey tree and building dens from branches and cut grass also playing football for them.


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.