Spotlight on . . .


Part 3
by Mike Chitty

John Smith died in 1895, and the contents of the house were auctioned off (in 802 lots) between 24th and 27th April. The building itself was then purchased by two women - Mrs Eleanor Stolterfoht and Mrs Matilda Madden - who passed it on to the Liverpool School for the Blind (which had been founded in Commutation Row in 1791). It would seem that the Hornby family were heavily involved in the school's move to Wavertree. Mrs Madden, who lived at Sandown Hall, was the widowed daughter of Hugh Hornby. Her cousin Mary Louisa Hornby was a very active supporter of charities for the blind in Liverpool. And there is a suggestion that her brother, Hugh Frederick Hornby of Sandown Lodge, was the anonymous donor of a £10,000 gift to the School, reported at the time by the Liverpool Daily Post. The old house was completely demolished, and replaced by a new building designed by Messrs H & A P Fry of Liverpool which opened in 1898. All that remained of Wavertree Hall was the perimeter wall, and the ornate gates on Church Road North - together with a legend which has persisted to the present day.

In fact, as is well-known locally, the 'gates' are incapable of being opened. They were installed in 1986 as a reminder of those which had rusted away and been removed in 1955. Through those gates - some years before the Smith family had moved in, it would seem - the daughter of the house had eloped with the coachman one night, and as a result her father, in sadness and disgust, had ordered them to be permanently locked. Or so the story goes. Thus it was that, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, the original entrance to Wavertree Hall was never used; and the present 'phoney' gates continue that tradition.

Above left: The gates of Wavertree Hall, Church Road, prior to 1895.

Read Parts
1 and 2 of
the story
on our January

and March
2015 news pages

Left: The Auction Catalogue - kindly loaned to us by Geoffrey Smith, great-grandson of John Andrew Smith.

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