Engraving of the Hyde estate from 1794
A work entitled " Cheshire ; Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive," published so late as 1818, describes the scene as follows :
" Hyde Hall, the seat of Geo. Hyde Clark, Esq., a branch of the Clarendon family, is situated in a romantic spot on the banks of a small river, and surrounded with bold swelling eminences gradually sloping to the water's edge. The house is an ancient brick edifice, repaired, with a plain front. It contains several good paintings and among others an original whole length of the great Earl of Clarendon. At a little distance from the house is a neat bridge of one arch, built a few years since for the accommodation of those who frequent the valuable coal mines that are worked on this estate, which includes both sides of the Tame. A weir on the Lancashire side, formed to supply a water engine, causes the river above it to assume the appearance of a large lake, which with the cascade produced by the falling of the waters in a broad sheet to a considerable depth, adds great interest to the surrounding scenery. The grounds are tolerably well wooded and the general character of the seat is picturesque and elegant."
Such a good quality picture I have been able to crop certain parts to show the detail in all it's glory.
Little of the authentic character can be seen respecting the early history of Hyde Hall. Like most other manor houses in the vicinity it was evidently the successor of an earlier structure built upon the same site. Old chronicles show the family of Hydes to have been settled here from a very early date, and it is only reasonable to suppose that they dwelt in a house suitable to their rank and position. There are traditions which claim that one Lord Matthew de Hyde erected a castle in these parts as far back as the 12th century.
Thomas Middleton wrote "The hall appears to have been built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and to have been re-built about the time of the Restoration. It continued to be the residence of the manorial lords of Hyde, until it was disposed of to the Fultons, of Fulton, in Lancashire. It was demolished in the year 1857."
It is said that the lords of the manor of Hyde lived here in the fine old English style, dispersing their hospitality in a regal manner, holding "brilliant entertainments " and " courtly " family gatherings. It is also a popular rumour that Queen Anne first saw light in Hyde Hall, and it is claimed as a fact that the two princesses of James Hyde, frequently came down to the hall, on long visits to their relatives at Hyde.
On the left is the Corn Mill, which looks to have had 3 water wheels.
Butterworth, the historian, worte:
"Betwixt the bridge and the house is a mill for grinding corn, for the use of which is a weir which throws a broad sheet of water to a considerable depth below, where it has worked a hole many yards deep and wide ; the appearance and noise of this cascade have a romantic effect and the river below, for half a mile, is made to appear like a lake, forming a fine piece of water well stocked with trout and eels. On each side of the river downwards from the gardens, are high banks well wooded, in which the river is lost for some space and then seen again."
Two hundred years ago, Longhorns were the most popular cattle in Cheshire. In the early eighteenth century, the ideas of Jethro Tull and Charles "Turnip" Townshend were increasing crop yields and introducing root crops for winter fodder. Once farmers could overwinter their cattle, instead of having to slaughter most of them in the autumn, they experimented with selective breeding to improve their stock
Around 1793, George Hyde Clarke built Clarke's Bridge over the river Tame at the bottom of Mill Lane This original bridge with its single arch suffered seriously damaged, by the great flood of 17 August 1799. A record of the flood is still kept in the Tame Valley at Gibraltar, a large stone showing the flood mark taken from the waterside of the old Gib Mill which states the following "Flood Mark, August 17th, 1799," The present bridge on Mill Lane was built in 1895.