Wednesday 9 November 2011

Yet another hall

Just north of Ilam is Castern Hall. This is a grade 2 listed Jacobean building dating back to 1660, but extensively remodelled in the Georgian style around 1740; probably for Nicholas Hurt (1710-1767).

If you want to read more about its status as a grade 2 listed building, look here.

The Hall was originally owned by Burton Abbey, but was bought by the Hurt family after the dissolution of the monasteries.  Through the 18th and 19th centuries, Alderwasley Hall was the main residence of the family and Castern was let to tenant farmers. The family only moved back around 1930 when Alderwasley was sold.

Which room would you fancy as yours?

Recent renovations have included the restoration of windows which were blocked up to avoid the paying of window tax. Window tax was first imposed in 1696 to counteract the loss of revenue caused by coin clipping. It was banded according to the number of windows in a property, an easy calculation because they could all be seen from outside the property. The tax was scrapped in 1851 after a campaign which claimed that it was a tax against good health. Meanwhile though, existing windows had been bricked up and new houses built with fewer windows; creating cities full of dark, damp terraces!

Finally, dropping down into Manifold Valley at the top side of Ilam Hall, we passed this cross shaft. The light was beginning to fade and the photo ended up with a weird sci-fi tinge!

The cross shaft is known as the Battle Stone and links back to the fighting between the Saxons and the Danes. It was taken from the foundations of a cottage about 1840, during the rebuilding of the village, but the stone itself probably dates from around the middle of the 11th century.

A climb up the stone steps takes us back to the front of Ilam Hall and the tea rooms where our walk began (now closed for the day, sadly, so I can't buy you a cuppa). 

Ilam – high route Dovedale – Ilam Rock – Stanshope – Manifold Valley – 7.5 miles,  1620’ ascent, MODERATE

I hope you enjoyed tagging along.


  1. I love this place! And the steps. And the stone. And the fact that it's all so old:) Window tax? How odd... What room would I pick? I want the whole thing! Thanks again for a great history lesson...

  2. I did indeed enjoy tagging along this once familiar territory. That is certainly a sturdy house - I had forgotten all about it.

  3. Top left please. Enjoyed the tag. Nice curving stairs of stone. Reminds me of the worn stone leading into the waiting room of an old Cheshire Surgery.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.