The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Priestnall Hey – Interlude: Priestnall Hey?

Researching these things the odd question pops up in your head and will not go away. When I started looking at Priestnall Hey, I knew about Hans Renold and I knew about James Watts. I did not know that the house was originally called Heaton Villa, but finding that out was no great shakes.

I then presumed, and you should never presume, that Hans Renold renamed the house Priestnall Hey because the house stood at the end of Priestnall Road, and Hey, well that was rather Germanic, reminded me of Heide, meaning Heath.

I looked up Hey in a dictionary of place names, and it means area surrounded by a hedge


And in the 1848 Tithe Map there are clearly trees around the house, as there are around what was the house today:


The Grounds of Priestnall Hey today

Granted, not as many trees, but the site is still surrounded by a small wood, making the grounds of the house a clearing.

That theory stood the test of time until I found in the Manchester Courier of 19 September 1865, the death notice of William Nelson (we aren’t quite up to him yet). It said: “at his residence, Priestnall Hey”

There’s a problem now. Priestnall Road does not appear on the census until 1881, it certainly is not on the 1871 census. Therefore I have to conclude the road was named after the house, and not the house after the road, and certainly not by Hans Renold.

Now, there begs the question who was Priestnall? In those days we named roads after people but insignificant country tracks would not have been given a name, the lane at that time had few if any other houses. Wellington Road was built in 1826, and is named after the hero of Waterloo, and British Prime Minister. In a future post we will even meet the man who designed the road, but that was a major thoroughfare part of the Buxton to Manchester turnpike.

The trouble is, I cannot find any Priestnalls famous enough to warrant a road being named after them. It has been suggested that the name comes from Ann Priestnall who ran a school on Old Street (Dodge Hill) and lived with her brother John, a reasonably wealthy Corn Merchant, and Sarah, who lived off the income of a number of properties she had mortgaged. It was even suggested on one site that that is the source of Priestnall School’s name. That falls apart because Ann was Ann Kinder at the time, and married to James Kinder, the son of the Reverend Ralph Kinder of Harrytown Hall. Furthermore one of Ann’s children, Parnell Kinder, was governess to Frances Ann Couttenden, the daughter of William Courtney Couttenden of Mount Heaton. In those days we didn’t name roads after the middle classes.

Even though other Stockport Priestnalls were well to do, one was a silk manufacturer, another a surgeon I don’t think any fit the bill.

My only clue as to where the name comes from is an advertisement from the Manchester Guardian of 2nd August 1823


There was a field known as Priestnall Leys off Burnage Lane. Ley means clearing, so we are still in the right linguistic ball park. My guess is that someone, perhaps a Howard who still owned the place and wanted to rent the property out, thought changing the name from Heaton Villa to distinguish it from Heaton Lodge , and Heaton Hall (both Heaton Hall in Heaton Park, and Mauldeth Hall were called Heaton Hall at that time) would make it more desirable.

But, then I am musing, so whilst I get on with writing the next section, I will throw the chicken / egg question out. Which came first? Why Priestnall?

Copyright Allan Russell 2019









Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

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