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Heaton Hall Reminder From National Gallery Director

Jonathan Schofield and a polite dig from Dr Nicholas Penny

Written by . Published on May 29th 2013.


Heaton Hall Reminder From National Gallery Director
 

DR Nicholas Penny, the Director of the National Gallery, was one of the guests of honour at the opening of Manchester Art Gallery's latest exhibition last week: Home, Land and Sea, Art in the Netherlands 1600-1800. 

Maybe the unthinkable has to be thought, maybe Manchester has to seek a commercial partner and maybe the Hall has to be sold.

Dr Penny complimented the exhibition and the work of Maria Balshaw, the director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery for making the venues such exciting components of the British art scene.

Then he said: "The next job for Maria is to get started on Heaton Hall, Manchester's extremely important neo-Classical house in Heaton Park. This will be incredibly difficult but is urgent."

The mothballing of Heaton Hall in the last couple of years has been controversial in the extreme - even featuring in Private Eye.

It is the best historic and cultural asset outside the city centre but within the city boundaries. It is of national importance and Grade One listed.

As we've written before: 'Heaton Hall, the centre-piece of the park, is in danger of mouldering away. It's to the city's shame that the west wing of this lovely building has been a roofed shell since a fire in the 1983 - thirty years ago. Built in 1772, designed by James Wyatt, Heaton Hall lies closed to the public, shuttered off, and yet it has been described as 'a building of refinement and elegance not exceeded in any English house of these years'.'

Speaking to Confidential Councillor Rosa Battle, executive member for culture and leisure, said: "Manchester City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund has invested money to weatherproof and to keep the building safe and in a sound condition to help us as we continue to work up proposals and plans for Heaton Hall.

"Our long term ambition is to bring Heaton Hall back into public use and over the last five years we have worked on two significant bids in the region of £10-£18m, however they were unsuccessful at that time.

"We realise we need business partners to make our ambition sustainable and viable moving forward and we are always on the look out for serious stakeholders to help us bring the Hall back into use."

The obvious idea would be to transfer the house to the National Trust, but it would appear the Trust aren't in a position to take it on sat present.

Maybe the unthinkable has to be thought, maybe Manchester has to seek a commercial partner and maybe the Hall has to be sold.  

Would it possible for a hotel operator to utilise the burnt out west wing and parts of the east wing and central portion while some of the jewel-like set-piece rooms remain open to the public?

An active, considerate and careful use would be infinitely preferable to the current darkening of the Hall to all and sundry.

That Mancunians, tourists and visitors can't experience these lovely rooms is a crying shame. 

Heaton HallHeaton Hall

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mark McGinnMay 29th 2013.

I remember about 15 years ago, when Manchester Art Gallery was closed, this had a few excellent art exhibitions. This was a fantastic use of the space and maybe should be considered again. A bar /restaurant in one part would be good (maybe the orangery).The trouble with it being a hotel is most Mancunians wouldn't see it inside. The worst thing would be for the National Trust to take control and create another dull as dishwater stately home.

Caron EastwoodMay 30th 2013.

Such a shame the hall is not open. My daughter got married there in 2009, and had her reception in the Orangery. Lovely setting without the expenses of a large posh hotel. The food was excellent and we had some lovely photos takem in the hall. Why are these places left to rot. At least if the National Trust took it over Manchester would still have a lovely house an deven perhaps still use it for functions!

AnonymousMay 31st 2013.

We went to Wythenshawe Park last weekend and the beautiful Hall there is also being left to mold away, it's all boarded up and in a very sorry state. It's understandable that the Council has had to prioritise spending in other areas but there must be something better than just leaving them to rot.

DavidMay 31st 2013.

This is the same council that regards Brittania Hotels as beyond the pale,yet acts in exactly the same way over this historic building.They have even less excuse as they have had money but have chosen to spend it on themselves(the town hall).

Poster BoyJune 1st 2013.

The hypocrisy of silence on Heaton Hall from the self appointed and self serving guardians (sic) of a certain former fire station speaks volumes...

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJune 8th 2013.

You are actually obsessed. "Self serving guardians". You mean volunteers who support many causes. Do not presume about what a group of people represent. Get help.

Poster BoyJune 14th 2013.

Self righteous as well. The silence, continues to be, deafening.

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