“Anyone who has seen the hall must admit it is very striking to say the least,” stated Cheshire Magazine of Mauldeth Hall in 1993. The article, entitled “The Mysteries of Mauldeth” came at the close of a local media storm about the building. The attention related not only to the feared closure of the well-loved nursing home, but to reports of paranormal activity at the premises. Nestling on the fringes of the Heatons and on the edge of Heaton Moor Golf course, the inconspicuous location of this grand Georgian mansion hints at the mystery that surrounds it.
Mauldeth was built as a family home in the 1830’s by American-born entrepreneur Joseph Cheesborough Dyer, and was originally named ‘Leegate Hall’ after the estate upon which it was built. Born in Connecticut, USA in 1780, before American independence was recognised by the British, Dyer was in fact a British subject and following the collapse of the imports trade which took him to and from England, he decided to stay here, settling in Manchester. A prominent local figure, he was involved in everything from banking to invention.
Only a few years after moving in however, the family was struck by tragedy. Joseph lost his wife to illness and suffered crippling financial losses when the Bank of Manchester collapsed. He was forced to sell the property. A string of owners followed, each staying only a short time at Leegate Hall.
Initially it was bought from Dyer by successful Manchester calico printer Edmund Wright in 1841, who renamed it Mauldeth Hall after a field within the estate called ‘Moldeth’, thought to mean ‘Marled Earth’ (Marl being a medieval lime-clay fertiliser). Wright died in 1853 and Mauldeth became residence for the first Bishop of Manchester, who lived there until his death in 1869. His successor, the Second Bishop, is said to have regarded the hall ‘with dread’ – a desolate place which he set out to sell, and did, to MP William Callander. Callander died after just a few months at Mauldeth.
Over the next century the building enjoyed a more settled existence. In 1880 it became a hospital for the terminally ill and was turned into an elderly people’s home when the NHS was established in 1948. The latter part of the 20th century however reflected more of the building’s earlier turbulence.
In 1978 priests from 3 different denominations were reportedly called in to conduct an exorcism, demanded by nursing staff who complained of being touched and even scratched by the ghost of a former patient. And in 1990, the building made the press again with reports from a security guard – who watched the now closed and empty building through the night – that the spirit of a Victorian nurse roamed the building.
The ghosts seem to have stayed away in recent years though. In 1992 Mauldeth’s cobwebs were blown away as it underwent renovation and took on a surprising new face as the Manchester Chinese Consulate, which it remains as today.
With thanks to Elizabeth Jones’ book ‘Old Heatonians’ and Dennis Lloyd Nadin’s book ‘A Burnage Miscellany’