Secret sadness behind ‘Marie Celeste’ mansion of Moston
The sister of the missing artist who apparently changed the face of modern film, has contacted the consumerwatchfoundation.com to say that she had found him after a decade.
She had originally called CWF because she feared her brother, Roger Barnard, might be dead after it was revealed his historic home had become a ‘Marie Celeste’ mansion.
It has been abandoned for almost 20 years.
Martine Barnard-Delaroche saw an internet video on the website showing the interior of Hough Hall, her brother’s ancient Grade 11 listed home in Moston, a down-trodden suburb of North Manchester.
She was devastated to see his belongings, including art works and his vast library of books, rotting away.
And she was ‘heart-broken’ when she spotted treasured family heirlooms overturned and her brothers out-of-date passport on a kitchen table.
Martine said: “I couldn’t believe it at first, but I realised that if he had left everything, even his passport, then he had to have left in a hurry.
“We haven’t spoken for many years but now I fear something awful has happened to him.”
Then an address for Roger which had been passed to us proved to be right and Martin, from Tyne and Wyre rang us.
She said: “Thank you so much to the consumerwatchfoundation.com – I’ve spoken to Roger after all these years and he hasn’t been well. But he is recovering and now I have the chance to become involved in his life again, and if he wants me to I can help sort things out over the hall.”
Roger, who is in his late 60s, had moved to a terraced house very near to the hall he bought in 2005 shortly after his wife, Heather, became seriously ill.
The couple left much of their furniture in the hall because their new home was too small to accommodate it.
Martine’s brother, Roger Barnard, born in 1951, became one of the prime movers of the burgeoning mid-70s video explosion, rubbing shoulders with the likes of controversial film-maker Roger Corman and video guru David Hall.
And in 1976 he helped found the influential London Video Arts organisation.
Roger, the son of a Battle of Britain survivor, Martine says, and was brought up on the idyllic Sussex coast minutes from the sea.
Things seemed to bode well for him and after university he was exhibiting his work at the Tate, Air Gallery and in Glasgow and other major cities.
The early 17 century hall is listed because of its wood wall panels, its gables and its wattle and daub construction.
The couple had grand plans for it, immersing themselves in the local community and holding open days at their ancient home.
Heather was a member of the Friends of Boggart Hole Clough, a sprawling park ten minutes walk from the farmhouse in Hough Hall Road, next to a local school.
A report in the Manchester Evening News in 2005 said; “Hough Hall in Moston opened its doors to the public on Saturday, welcoming visitors of all ages to see inside its Tudor interior and grounds for themselves.”
Roger said at the time: “We had lots of lovely comments in the visitors’ book afterwards with one person describing it as a ‘perfect autumn evening’ and another wrote ‘so enjoyable we had to come back’.”
Then personal tragedy struck and Roger and Heather to all intents and purposes vanished and the hall was abandoned. Later it went up for sale for £200,000 but there were no takers.