In the heart of our town lies this hidden gem, a once truly magnificent black and white Tudor mansion dating from 1582 which has grade ll listed status. It housed generations of the distinguished Tonge family for many years and passed through several hands until 1890 when it was purchased by Mr Ashton Tonge, said to be a descendant of the old family. In more recent years it became acquired by Albert Wolstencroft who for a period was Mayor of Middleton and is still currently owned by his son Captain Norman Wolstencroft who no longer lives in the area.
Until recent years this unique building with all its original features was not only an attraction in itself but has the advantage of being in a pleasant open location on a hill with views overlooking the town. It is still a lovely place to head for on a walk out, to walk the dogs and even have a picnic on a sunny day! Do any of us do that anymore??
Unfortunately the building now lies in a very sorry state of repair. Mr Wolstencroft struggled for many years to maintain this beautiful house but having now been unoccupied for a number of years it has been left open to not only the elements, but a minority of mindless idiots who, not content with just destroying and ripping the heart out of the place, decided to try and raze it to the ground completely with an arson attack. They half succeeded and now the future of our Tonge Hall hangs in the balance.
There have been many promises that something will be done to save the place but not much actually happening. Time is crucial as time is something the building doesn't have a lot left of before it is too late and beyond repair. We should be proud to have such a piece of history to show off in our town. Middletonia.co.uk is hoping to form a trust fund involving local people who want to do more to preserve this relic for future generations. For more information or to get involved go to Local Issues.Written by the editor. May 2008
Since writing this article back in 2008, Mr Wolstencroft sadly passed away. The hall is now owned jointly by Rochdale Council and English Heritage. Work began to protect the building from the elements in 2010 but although it has had a large framework and cover built over the top, little more progress seems to have been made to save this building. It is now five years since the fire that nearly destroyed Tonge Hall.