1. The History
Bennetston Hall was built in the late nineteenth Century by local doctor and property speculator Robert Ottiwell Gifford Bennett MD (1834 Ė 1902). Occupying a dramatic hillside location with a commanding view of the Derbyshire High Peaks, it is set in 10 acres of land including an impressive 2-acre trout lake. It comprises of a substantial country mansion and coach house constructed from coursed gritstone walls with gritstone detailing and has a number of significant and design features.

A couple of shots of the hall back in its heyday:

Benneston old 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Benneston old 02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

In the 1930ís it was acquired by the YHA and became a Youth Hostel. After World War II, Bennetston Hall saw usage as a private dwelling, a nightclub and a hotel. The house was badly damaged by fire in the mid-1980s and this resulted in it falling into a sorry state of neglect and disrepair. The Peak Planning Board refused planning permission, back in September 1987, to turn the coach house into a residential dwelling. In October 1989, the then-owner, a Mr Adshead, was locked in a contractual dispute and was then ordered to pay the claimantís costs incurred by the Legal Aid Board back. After a protracted legal battle, the hall was granted to the possession of the Legal Aid Board in 1996. However due to Mr Adshead suffering from a terminal illness and the resulting protracted legal battle it wasnít until March 2012 that the Hall was put up for sale by auction on the instruction of the receivers at a guide price of between £150,000 and £200,000. The developers, Puro Property Partnership of Knutsford, who bought the hall at auction obtained planning permission to convert the hall into five luxury apartments and a self-contained house. The coach house was subsequently sold off for £170,00 in October 2013.

It then all becomes a bit murky. However, in 2017 it appeared the hall had turned the corner when it was acquired by Chimp Management as the corporate headquarters of the charity with conversion to a dedicated conference facility together with 32 bedrooms. Additionally, the restoration would include the reinstatement of the hallís original roof-line with castellated gable and the restoration of the Coach House including a link via a single storey glazed passage to the main Hall. However, despite these ambitious plans, and conditional planning permission to go ahead with the work, little has changed, and the hall remains empty and at risk.

2. The Explore
This place has been on my radar for a while. With the acquisition of the hall by Chimp Management and their ambitious plans for the hall, Iíd written the place off. However, I was recently passing and due to the apparent lack of development, thought Iíd have a look. One of the main issues is the approach to the hall. Itís on a busy main road with no obvious parking places. Then thereís the long, exposed walk up to the house. Having worked out and negotiated these, it became very quickly apparent my perseverance was going to pay off. The hall itself stands beautifully well and externally is a lovely property. However, inside it is very sparse with little in the way of original features. The coach house is very strange. Clearly a lot of money has been spent to try and convert it into a hi-spec residential dwelling. Iím guessing this has been post-2013, but has stopped for a few years, perhaps due to planning permission issues. What is clear is that post-2017, no progress has been made by Chimp Management. This maybe down to the nature of the conditions attached to the planning permission that was granted to the company.

3. The Photos

The approach:

img1583 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1577 by HughieDW, on Flickr

A view over the very picturesque trout lake:

img1581 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1579 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bennetston Hall 14 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The main staircase in the hall:

img1560 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1557 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Primitive alarm system:

Bennetston Hall 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Sadly, someís half-inches the fireplace:

Bennetston Hall 08 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Some view:

img1553 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Partition wall thatís seen better days:

Bennetston Hall 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bennetston Hall 07 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bennetston Hall 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Bennetston Hall 03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the coach house:

img1574 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1562 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1573 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Downstairs, the high spec kitchen has seen better days:

Bennetston Hall 12 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Loving the spiral staircase:

img1564 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1570 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1569 by HughieDW, on Flickr

img1565 by HughieDW, on Flickr

The bathroom is very nice:

Bennetston Hall 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Attic space:

img1568 by HughieDW, on Flickr