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Tonge Hall - Notes on Royton : Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society

Notes on Royton from various sources Vol. 1 p86

Tonge Hall

Here also Mr. Andrew gave the following historical narrative of the hall and its inhabitants:-

Many of the old architects in erecting domestic buildings seem to have studied harmony rather than uniformity. The architect of Tonge Hall evidently studied both, and, judging by the sketch still to be seen in Raines' MSS, the effect was both picturesque and beautiful. I find no record of the man who built this magnificent pile, but I think there can be no doubt that it was built in the time of the Tudors.

Some restorations must have been done to the old hall in 1703, as I find the initials T.R.A. 1703 on the waterspouts. These evidently represent Richard and Ann Tonge, who lived here during the latter part of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries. Richard Tonge, of Tonge, gentleman, was born March 11th, 1658, and died April 20th, 1713, Alice, his wife, was the daughter of Robert Gregg, of Chamber Hall, Oldham, Esq., sheriff of Lancashire, and widow of John Gilliam, of Newton, Esq. She was buried March 19th, 1723-24.

As regards the interior, there are still the remains of an open fireplace, which, perhaps, mark the servants' portion of the hall and there is also a panelled room with a painting over the mantel, which is, perhaps, two to three centuries old. Some of the lead work in the windows is probably original.

Passing to the family which takes its name from this place, The Tonge family qua Tonge had a local habitation and a name here over 500 years ago. Tonge seems to have been part of the manor of Alkrington, and, according to Colonel Fishwick, who recently read an excellent paper on Tonge Hall before this Society, the first man who tool his name from this place was Henry de Tonge, baptised at Tonge or Middleton Church, 5th October, 1388, son of Henry de Alkrington, who died 27th June, 1390. During the 14th Century surnames were being adopted in this district, and this is not the only instance in which the son took his surname, not from his father, but from the estate which he inherited. The family of Tonge held the estate fairly well into the 18th century. At one period the Tonges were evidently not a very long lived family, and consequently the heirs were at the mercy of trustees, one of whom, we are told, had not "the fear of God before his eyes."

Despite all this the Tonges must have been a well ordered family. The fact that they retained the estate in unbroken succession for many centuries proves at least their staying powers. We find them intermarrying with some of the most respectable families in the county. We find them preserving their identity as freeholders and contributors to the Royal subsidies. And though, as men, they were evidently great in those common qualities which make common people great, as Colonel Fishwick says, they were not leaders of men.

The hall of Tonge, after passing through several hands, is now again in the possession of a descendant of old stock, Mr. Ashton Tonge, of Alderley. Let us hope he will restore the hall to its former elegance and grandeur