Crumpsall Hall - Abraham Moss Community School
- Nominee: Abraham Moss Community School
- Project: Crumpsall Hall
- Category: Best Contribution to a Heritage Project by Young People
Students at Abraham Moss Community School in Manchester were so excited by their history research on lost building Crumpsall Hall that Sir Humphrey Chetham (the merchant and philanthropist who once lived there) “became a real person to them, a friend who had lived in their area and was one of them,” said Andrea Taziker, their teacher. It is as his "friends" that the young people will now help to protect a legacy that they have helped to uncover, she said. “Because of the history project, the young people see themselves as experts on 'our' Crumpsall Hall.”
A sense of belonging
Crumpsall Hall was recorded by the Ordnance Survey map in 1848, but the building was later demolished. Since 1890, the park where it was located has provided an open space for leisure while the lost hall has stayed famous as the birthplace of one of Manchester’s best-known benefactors: Sir Humphrey Chetham.
Since enrolling on the Heritage Schools programme in 2014, Abraham Moss Community School had been searching for new ways to teach students about the history of their local area, particularly that of the Tudor era. With young people from diverse backgrounds and speaking more than 80 languages, the school wanted to develop a history project that would create a sense of place and belonging for everyone. But not even the teachers were expecting that the young people would make original discoveries of their own.
It all began with a visit to local archivist Kathryn Newman. “When Kathryn asked the children what they wanted to discover about their local area, they told her they wanted to know more about how people had lived at Crumpsall Hall, including recipes for Tudor feasts for a re-enactment they were planning,” Andrea said. “On their return, Kathryn showed them maps and letters with details of parties and food – and the best discovery: Humphrey Chetham’s mother’s Will and an inventory on a piece of paper which had not even been looked at for 500 years and had to be unrolled. The pupils were so excited by this that it led to the rest of the project.”
For the next year, the pupils researched the hall and shared their findings. Andrea worked with a local film-maker to make a short documentary that records the creative methods the children used in their learning. The young people produced the script, recreated a Tudor banquet and channelled their creativity into practising and performing music and dance to make the film as engaging as possible, taking inspiration from the hugely popular Horrible Histories books and TV series. Next, the school plans to develop a history app, which will be available in several languages.
The students at Abraham Moss Community School have developed their research skills while expressing their creativity and providing a platform for people in their area to explore a hidden part of their history. Now being shown in schools and at teacher training sessions around the North West, their film not only records their research on Crumpsall Hall, but can also be used as an example of how to deliver a successful heritage project. As passionate advocates of Historic England's Heritage Schools programme, Andrea and the school continue to encourage other teachers to participate in Heritage Schools training and all of Abraham Moss Community School’s history department have taken part.
Why this category?
The students have poured their energy and enthusiasm into uncovering the hidden history of Crumpsall Hall, despite the fact that no physical trace of the building is left in Crumpsall Park. The Year 8/9 students have spent hours of their free time poring over documents and visiting other locations, such as the Grade II listed Clayton Hall, to get a better idea of the architecture and layout of the lost building. They have also visited Chetham’s Library, founded by Humphrey Chetham, to explore his life and work. One tangible outcome of their project will be a portrait of the philanthropist, which is to be hung in the school entrance hall.
A more important legacy, however, is what the young people have learned and what they have passed on to others, said Andrea. The students have committed time after school and at weekends to work on the film, and shared their findings with younger children during the summer holidays. They have also been determined to engage the wider community in learning more about 'our Crumpsall Hall'. This enthusiasm has ensured that not only will the young people remember the project for a long time to come, but also that the wider community will be enriched by their efforts.