Secret sadness behind ‘Marie Celeste’ mansion of Moston


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The sister of the missing artist who apparently changed the face of modern film, has contacted the to say that she had found him after a decade.

She had originally called CWF because she feared her brother, Roger Barnard, might be dead after it was revealed his historic home had become a ‘Marie Celeste’ mansion.

It has been abandoned for almost 20 years.

Martine Barnard-Delaroche saw an internet video on the website showing the interior of Hough Hall, her brother’s ancient Grade 11 listed home in Moston, a down-trodden suburb of North Manchester. 

She  was devastated to see his belongings, including art works and his vast library of books, rotting away.

And she was ‘heart-broken’ when she spotted treasured family heirlooms overturned  and her brothers out-of-date passport on a kitchen table.

Martine said: “I couldn’t believe it at first, but I realised that if he had left everything, even his passport,  then he had to have left in a hurry.
“We haven’t spoken for many years but now I fear something awful has happened to him.”

Then an address for Roger which had been passed to us proved to be right and Martin, from Tyne and Wyre rang us.

She said: “Thank you so much to the  – I’ve spoken to Roger after all these years and he hasn’t been well. But he is recovering and now I have the chance to become involved in his life again, and if he wants me to I can help sort things out over the hall.”

Roger, who is in his late 60s, had moved to a terraced house very near to the hall he bought in 2005 shortly after his wife, Heather, became seriously ill.

The couple left much of their furniture in the hall because their new home was too small to accommodate it.

Martine’s brother, Roger Barnard, born in 1951, became one of the prime movers  of the  burgeoning  mid-70s video explosion, rubbing shoulders with the likes of controversial film-maker Roger Corman and video guru David Hall.

And in 1976 he helped found the influential London Video Arts organisation.

Roger,  the son of a  Battle of Britain survivor, Martine says, and was brought up on the idyllic Sussex coast minutes from the sea.

Things seemed to bode well for him and after university he was exhibiting his work at the Tate, Air Gallery and in Glasgow and other major cities.

The early 17 century hall is listed because of its wood wall panels, its gables and its wattle and daub construction.

The couple  had grand plans for it, immersing themselves in the local community and holding open days at their ancient home.

Heather was a member of the Friends of Boggart Hole Clough, a sprawling park ten minutes walk from the farmhouse in Hough Hall Road, next to a local school.

A report in the Manchester Evening News in 2005 said; “Hough Hall in Moston opened its doors to the public on Saturday, welcoming visitors of all ages to see inside its Tudor interior and grounds for themselves.”

Roger said at the time: “We had lots of lovely comments in the visitors’ book afterwards with one person describing it as a ‘perfect autumn evening’ and another wrote ‘so enjoyable we had to come back’.”

Then personal tragedy struck and Roger and Heather to all intents and purposes vanished and the hall was abandoned. Later it went up for sale for £200,000 but there were no takers.


Consumer Watch Foundation

8 thoughts on “Secret sadness behind ‘Marie Celeste’ mansion of Moston

  1. Leonie Painter Let’s do it! Lost completely here but willing to give my time to this if there is someone/group that can help me/us along – what you say Callum Jackie I really don’t know where

  2. Damian Witherington Is this of any help – Was anybody on here involved in the Community Group who tried to raise funds to purchase Hough Hall around May 2005 that may still have information or know of anybody not a member of this group who may have information requested by the National Trust – any help would be much appreciated as long as its fact and not rumour. If the Council can cough up money for FC United of Mancheter (was it £3 million) then perhaps they might just help in rescuing the oldest building in Moston with all its history

    After reading a post on Moston and Harpurhey (and surrounding areas) I decided to write to the national Trust for advise and got the following response –
    Dear Damian,
    Thank you for getting in touch with the National Trust about Hough Hall in Moston.
    We care passionately about the value and importance of all local heritage and green spaces, and are sorry to hear of the current situation in relation to Hough Hall.
    Over the last year or so, we have been increasingly approached by local communities to take on local authority and private assets ranging from local parks and green spaces to museums and historic buildings. As a charity with limited financial resources we are only able to acquire places in very rare circumstances, when the significance of a place and the threat to this is exceptional and where we can be confident we would be able to operate it without undue financial impact on the rest of the places in our care.
    However, we take all requests for help seriously, and your approach has been forwarded to the External Partnerships Team (EPT), a team dedicated to finding new ways of helping others to care for special places through a range of consultancy services.
    EPT are already committed to working with a number of local authorities and community groups to look after special places where we are not able to acquire them ourselves. To help us get a better understanding of Hough Hall, we would be grateful if you could provide us with more information in the following areas.
    • The significance of Hough Hall including special features and designations.
    • The current condition of the hall.
    • Who owns the hall and your relationship with the owner.
    • Any groups forming around the hall (e.g. Friends of, Action Groups, a Charitable Trust etc), the group’s vision for the site, and your relationship to the group(s), together with any documentation already produced re strategy, vision, action plans.
    • Details on any other heritage bodies you have engaged such as Historic England or the Heritage Lottery Fund and what help they’ve managed to provide.
    • The best email address and phone number to contact you on.
    If we are able to help, one of the team will be in touch with you via the contact given above in due course.
    In the meantime and if we are not able to help directly, we’ve provided below a short list of other organisations and grant giving bodies that may be able to help you:…/main/fundinghome.php
    Thank you again for contacting the Trust and for the work you are doing to safeguard your local heritage.
    Kindest Regards
    Ellie Lyons
    Assistant Project Manager
    External Partnerships Team
    National Trust

  3. John Biggs Thanks for the update. Shame to see it boarded up. Spent some time in there some years putting a play on with our children from Whitemoss who at the time had additional needs.

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