"This is a historic gem": Manchester's oldest building is up for sale

It may blossom into the region's most impressive boutique hotel - but there is a bit of work to do first. It is a Grade I listed building, set in two acres, and has a timber-framed great hall.

Baguley Hall is Manchester's oldest building which is thought to date from the late 13th century. Now it is on the market. Described in Parliament as "one of the most important timber framed houses in Europe", it sits in the middle of Wythenshawe.

Originally a manor house it is on a site lived on since Anglo Saxon times. A working farm until the 1930s, it was saved from demolition 50 years ago through a public petition and the efforts of the late local MP, Alf Morris, later Lord Morris of Manchester, who made a passionate plea in Parliament.

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Mr Morris urged the government to save ‘one of the finest timber buildings in Europe, and of outstanding historical and architectural importance, whose demolition would be emphatically contrary to the best interests of Manchester and Great Britain as a whole.'

Constructed for the de Baguley family, the hall was gifted to Manchester Corporation and used as a council workshop and store between 1927 and 1968 before it was eventually passed into state ownership. Now it has been put on the market by property agents Colliers on behalf of Historic England. Colliers is inviting offers to buy the freehold or a leasehold.

Colliers say "Baguley Hall is in grounds of two-acres in a popular residential area, not far from Manchester Airport. The former manor house, which has been vacant for many years, dates to the late 13th Century. It has an impressive timber-framed great hall, one of the finest in the north west of England, in the middle, with cross-wings added later."

Colliers describe the medieval gem as: "A flexible building suited to many commercial (and non-commercial) uses, including hospitality, subject to planning," adding it has a "visible location with good passing traffic and footfall, at the heart of a relatively affluent neighbourhood with much family housing."

They add that grant funding may be available to help restoration and that although some repairs have been done "much more needs to be done".

Historic England, the public body that helps people care for, and celebrate England’s historic environment, has recently completed significant repair works to assist future occupiers.

Plans with cost estimates, have been prepared by Thomas Ford and Partners conservation architects and IKS cost consultants for several uses, subject to planning. These include a food-based pub (with or without bedrooms), boutique hotel and an events centre and will be made available to interested parties.

Will Tait, Associate Director in Colliers’ Licensed and Leisure team, who is handling the sale said: “Baguley Hall is a fantastic opportunity to acquire a truly special historic building. We think it is well-suited, because of its layout and location, for various uses, including hospitality.

"Historic England is seeking to transfer the freehold or a long leasehold to a company that will restore and operate the building in a sympathetic way, in keeping with its grade I listing, and will enable the public to access it on at least an occasional basis”.

Catherine Dewar, North West Regional Director at Historic England, added: “Baguley Hall is a South Manchester historic gem. Standing for nearly 900 years, it boasts the most incredible great hall with tall, mullioned windows and unusual timber frame. We’re looking forward to working with Colliers to find prospective buyers or long-term tenants to find an exciting new use for this stunning site.”

But the hall remains closed, despite hopes it can be turned into a resource for the community and an education centre for schools. Last year an important step was taken to secure its future. Scaffolding which has been in place for ten years was removed from the interior and the floor re-laid to improve access.

Heritage specialists Restoration Projects, did £250,000 repairs to stop water damage. All work was done to the highest standards, using techniques and materials essential in the repair, maintenance and retrofit of such a significant historic building.

The building has been managed by Historic England on behalf of the government with support from English Heritage. Features include an extremely unusual timber frame and tall wooden-mullioned windows. It is classified as being of exceptional interest, with just 2.5% of listed buildings across the country meeting the standard for Grade I.

It is thought the hall was created as a manor house and then became a farmhouse. It has a medieval north wing remodelled in the 17th century; a 16th century porch; and early 17th century south wing.

According to Historic England it is a "Tall single-storey hall with two-storey porch, two-and-a-half storey wings. The hall has a chamfered sandstone plinth, and an extremely unusual timber frame composed of massive planks, the verticals serving dual function as posts and studs, and the north-west corner formed by a huge L-shaped post."

The interior includes a 'very fine common-rafter roof with curved scissor-braces longitudinally linked by a central purlin' and a large inglenook fireplace, the remains of a 17th century staircase. Money for the repairs has been provided by Historic England. Aside from the £250,000 for the repairs, Historic England has paid for regular maintenance and 24 hour security, supported by English Heritage Trust.