DiCamillo Companion

Abney Hall (The Grove)

  • Built / Designed For: Alfred Orell

    House & Family History: The current house was built on the site of the 18th century Cheadle Grove Print Works, which had burned down. Abney was originally called The Grove, in honor of the print works; the name was changed to Abney Hall by Sir James Watts (supposedly in honor of Sir Thomas Abney). Sir James bought the house soon after its completion; he was a serial builder, altering and adding to Abney throughout the 1850s using a variety of architects, including the famous A.W.N. Pugin. The last private owner of Abney Hall, another James Watts, was Agatha Christie's brother-in-law. Dame Agatha was a frequent visitor to Abney and wrote two stories there: "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding" and "After the Funeral." Abney was the inspiration for Chimneys, the country house of the fictional Marquess of Caterham, in "The Seven Dials Mystery" and "The Secret of Chimneys." In addition, there are many references to places around Cheadle, the village in which Abney Hall is located, throughout Christie's books. Vanessa Wagstaff on the subject of Abney and Agatha Christie: "Abney became Agatha's greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots. The descriptions of the fictional Styles, Chimneys, Stoneygates, and the other houses in her stories, are mostly Abney in various forms." In 1958 Abney Hall was sold for £14,000 (approximately £761,000 in 2019 inflation-adjusted values using the labour value commodity index) to Cheadle and Gatley Urban District Council, which converted the house to offices and used it as Cheadle Town Hall. In 1974 ownership passed to Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, who continue to use Abney Hall for government offices. Prince Albert visited Abney in 1857.

    Collections: Most of the original furniture was moved to Lyme Hall and Bramall Hall when Abney was converted into offices.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The park was originally part of the Mersey flood plain, which is why the public park that surrounds the house today is a wet meadow.

  • Architect: Travis & Magnall

    Date: Early 1850s
    Designed: Added two wings for Sir James Watts

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    Architect: Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin

    Date: 1850s
    Designed: Substantial alterations to House for Sir James Watts

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    Architect: George Faulkner Armitage

    Date: 1890s
    Designed: Altered and extended House

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  • Country Life: CXXXIII, 846, 910, 1963.

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: Alfred Orell, 19th century. Sir James Watts, 19th century.

    Current Ownership Type: Government

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Offices

    Ownership Details: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council owns the House and grounds.

  • House Open to Public: Grounds Only

    Website: https://www.stockport.gov.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No