Stansfield Hall

Walter Crabtree was the husband of my 3rd cousin twice removed! OK. He’s quite a distant ancestor. BUT he lived here:

The front elevation from the garden

At the moment I’m not sure how long he lived in Stansfield Hall, Todmorden, but he died there in July 1956, the year after I was born. So this cloudy Saturday morning I decided to go and check out the place. I knew that it had been added to and altered many times since it was built in 1610 for James Stansfield. A large extension was added in 1862 in the Gothic Revival style by John Gibson( oh, no, not ANOTHER GIBSON!)  For Member of Parliament, Joshua Fielding. Of the original 17th century house only a cross-wing survives. 

The cross-wing on the right is part of the original 1610 building

I’d never been to this area of Todmorden before and the approach across a small footbridge over the railway was rather – colorful. I climbed up the steep hillside and soon came to Stansfield Hall Road. The entire right hand side of the road was bordered by an impressive stone wall, too high for me to peek over but I could see the tops of trees of what was obviously an extensive and well cared for garden. I’d seen online the impressive gateposts leading into the curving driveway and, knowing that the building was now used as apartments I had anticipated that there might be a security gate that I wouldn’t be bale to negotiate.

What an entrance!

But, no security gate so I ended the gardens, up the drive and the Hall came into sight, but I was seeing the rear of the building. To my right spacious manicured lawns, flower beds and treed areas were occasionally dotted with tables and chairs, and the odd child’s toy.

Front door not too bad either

I felt awkward at imposing on the residents’  Saturday morning and taking photos from the lawn but my attention was drawn to  the sound of a a leaf blower, and turning the corner I saw its owner. I approached and he switched off the noisy contraption. I explained my quest and he pointed out for me the oldest part of the building – the cross-wing of the original 1610 house. He had heard of the Crabtree family. I asked his permission to go onto the lawn and take photos. He said that would be fine. Because of its elevated position and sloping grounds there were several stairs and hidden paths through the trees.

The man pointed out what had once been a snooker room, connected to the main building by a covered gantry. Once at the front of the house I could take in its vast expanse. There was also a nearby cottage, perhaps for servants? I think there had also been a gatehouse at one time but that has been demolished. The gardens were immaculate, and as I left I mentioned this to the man and asked  if he was responsible for the entire grounds. “No, just outside my bit of the building,” he replied. Ah, he lives here, whoops! As I left I heard a train pass by just below the garden. At one time there was a station at Stansfield, named appropriately enough Stansfield Hall railway station which opened in 1869. ‘ A train drew up there, unwontedly – it was late June’ – from Adelstrop, by Edward Thomas, one of the poems I remember from my childhood. 

The current railway track – Manchester to Leeds.

So who was this man who lived here? Born in 1875, and baptized at Cross Stone church high above Todmorden, he was living with his parents Charles and Ellen at 1 Cross Street, Todmorden, aged 6 on the 1881 census. His father’s occupation is given as Cotton Spinner and Manufacturer, employing ?114 hands (though it’s difficult to read). His older sister, Betsy, is a pupil teacher, aged 15. Walter had 5 siblings. I can’t locate Cross Street. He was still there in 1891. He was 15 but he is a ‘scholar.’ This is significant since children were working long before their 15th birthday. For example, in the next street, Myrtle, which is in the centre of Todmorden, Willie Brocock, aged 11, is a throstle spinner. On the day the census was taken in 1901 Walter is a noted as a visitor at the home, North Road, Ripon, Yorkshire, of Dr Arthur C. A. Ludgrove, a physician and surgeon from Sevenoaks in Kent. Walter Crabtree is now listed as a physician and surgeon himself. He was educated at Owens College, Manchester and took his MB ChB in 1899. He was a house physician at Manchester Royal Infirmary, and later an honorary radiologist at Reedyford Hospital, Nelson. 5 years later he married Edith Wrigley, my 3rd cousin, twice removed, at Cross Lanes chapel, on the way up the hill from Hebden Bridge to Heptonstall. The chapel has long gone but I’ve wandered around the cemetery which has a spectacular view over Hebden Bridge. Several Wrigleys are buried there. At the time of their marriage Walter was living at 125 Netherfield Road, Nelson, in Lancashire, a surgeon. He was 31. Rather late for a marriage at that time. Edith, a spinster, was 28, living at 9 Halifax Road, Todmorden, daughter of Thomas Henry Wrigley, house painter. In 1911 he was living with his wife, and a live-in servant, Jane Halliday, 19 years old. In 1939 he was living at 87 Barkerhouse Road, Nelson. When he died at Stansfield Hall he left over 8000 pounds to his widow. Quite a fortune at that time.


  1. Eileen Purdy

    My grandparents lived in stansfield lodge. It was knocked down in 1966 to make road wider. My sister and me have many happy memories of the lodge and grandad looked after the garden at the hall. Mary and Fred collinge

    • hmcreativelady

      Thank you so much for replying to my blog about Stansfield Hall.I have some Collinges in my family too!

      • Phil Harrison

        My great great grandfather was Richard Stansfield, owner of Salford Old Foundry in Todmorden. I’m led to believe his ancestors were from Stansfield Hall originally. I too have a branch of Collinges in my family tree. Phil Harrison

      • Eileen purdy

        My dad is called Peter Livingstone collinge. ( livingstone was a family name carried down to all sons) He was born in 1925 at Burnt cottages Cross Stones then moved to Stansfield hall lodge. He trained as a sheet metal worker at Whitheads in Todmorden but then went to Burnley aerospace in Burnley where he met my mum Elsie Whittiker and got married in and lived in Burnley. Dad died at the age of 69 on his 42nd wedding anniversary. He told many tales of going in all the pubs in Todmorden. He did have aunties and uncles in Todmorden. He did have a sister Eileen who died at the age of 3. She is buried in the church opposite the police station. My mum and dad’s ashes are buried there and grandma and grandad have a plaque behind the church. Grandma was a Firth before marriage to Fred and her relatives are buried in cross stone church Cross Stones

    • Morgan Collinge

      I found this article researching my family, the Collinge’s. Peter Livingstone is my first cousin twice removed. Is he your father? Fred would have been my great granduncle. I find this whole ancestry thing quite fascinating

      • Eileen purdy

        Hello. Yes he is our dad. Fred and Mary are our grandparents. Dads ashes are buried in church opposite police station next to school and park in his sisters grave with grandparents plaque behind church

  2. Matt Barker

    The St James’ Church Great War Memorial page says my great great grandfather, John Barker, father of Robert Hewitt Barker MP lived here. Thanks for the photos.

  3. Helen Reynolds

    Luke Barker found this while researching. I think he lived in the house till his death in 1896.

    Mr. Luke began business as a boy in the shop of his uncle, Mr. James Barker, grocer of Gandy Bridge Todmorden. Before he was 20 years of age, so patiently had he studied in his classes, he was an excellent machine draughtsman, as many samples of his work still in existence at Stansfield Hall bear testimony.

  4. Jacklyn Stansfield

    Although I don’t know much about Yorkshire but been trying to trace my family roots of the Stansfields.
    My dad originally came from Burnley Lancs but my mother definitely came from this area in 1907.
    So this makes interesting reading.

  5. Julie Otterson

    My 3 x great-grandfather, James Johnstone Davies, was butler here in 1871, one of many servants working for Joshua Fielding mp and his young family. He was 47 and my 3 x greatgrandmother, Rebecca, was living down in Surrey with their own 3 youngest children. He died only a few years later, in his mid fifties.

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