Newton Hall

A Cruck-framed Building,
Hyde, Cheshire

Newton Hall, one of Britain's earliest cruck-framed buildings, stands on the corner of Dukinfield Road and Dunkirk Lane in Hyde, Cheshire. Carbon dating placed the construction of this hall to c.1370 and it survived because much later it was encased in a brick building having a blue slate roof. By the 1960s it was in a ruinous condition and in 1968 Sir George Kenyon, the Chairman of William Kenyon & Sons Ltd of Dukinfield, Cheshire, rescued it. Browns of Wilmslow undertook the restoration work and this was completed in 1970.

The cruck blades used in its construction spring directly from the ground sills and these support the roof timbers. About 35% of the timbers in the building are original and all replacement timber was of English oak. One of the greatest difficulties encountered was in searching England for wind-swept oak trees of the correct shape and then in obtaining permission to fell them. Over 1,200 oak pegs were needed to complete the frame.

Newton Hall was never black and white, unlike most other timber-framed buildings, which have the oak painted black and the wattle lime washed. The small windows are typical examples of 14th century buildings and shutters, often referred to as 'window doors', closed these on the inside.

During the restoration work, a large glass panel was inserted into one side the purpose of this being twofold. It allows sufficient light into the hall so that it can be used for modern purposes such as holding conferences, seminars and meetings and it also allows the construction of the building to be viewed from the outside. It now has a stone flag floor with under-floor heating, whereas originally it would have had an earthen floor.

During the Roman era, a track connecting the Roman garrison town of Mamucium (Manchester) and the fort of Ardotalia (long known as Melandra at Gamesley near Glossop) crossed the river Tame hereabouts and passed close by the site of the future Newton Hall. To cross the Pennines, the Romans then made use of an ancient British ridgeway from Ardotalia. This track was in use until medieval times as a packhorse road.

The land on the valley side between the Lower Peak Forest Canal and the river Tame was reclaimed many years ago for recreational purposes. It was landscaped, planted with trees and its ancient name of Jet Amber Fields was revived. Nowadays it is much used by walkers and a small car park has been provided just below Newton Hall Bridge.


Newton Hall, 29 January 2006.

Photograph: Author's Collection