North Cheshire Family History Society

The North Cheshire

 Family Historian

Published Quarterly:
February, May,
August & November


The Treasure of Rose Hill

Sherlock Holmes would have been the supreme family historian. Not only would he have located those stubborn and elusive relatives and found where they were working and living but he would probably have told us what they eat for breakfast on the day of the census.

We all know that to pursue genealogy and family history takes the talent and patience of a highly skilled detective, but to find and identify ‘the treasure of Rose Hill’ you would have needed luck, too, lots of it.

Frederick Church's The Icebergs 

The ‘treasure of Rose Hill’ was found in the 1970s at Rose Hill, Northenden and its discovery still continues to make headline news all over the world. The ‘treasure’ was a long-lost painting by Frederick Edwin Church, who was the most successful American landscape painter of his day. The painting was called The Icebergs and it had been bought by arguably Northenden’s most celebrated resident, Edward Watkin, a century earlier.

Rose Hill in the 1970s was a remand home but it had been the home of the Watkin family who were one of the very few families in the area that had a genuine impact on history. Absalom Watkin (Edward’s father) was a successful cotton merchant who moved to Northenden in 1834. He was involved in many of the social and political movements of the day (including Peterloo and the Great Reform Bill of 1832) and of course he wrote his famous diary (published in 1993) which is addictive reading for family historians. His son Edward Watkin (1819-1901) became MP for Stockport in 1864, was knighted in 1868 and made a baronet in 1880, but he’s now best remembered (in Northenden) for buying Frederick Church’s artic masterpiece ‘The Icebergs’.

Edward Watkin moved to Northenden with his parents in 1834 (when was about six) and he died there a few weeks after the 1901 Census. He was an interesting man admired as much for his failings as successes. As well as trying to build the Channel Tunnel in 1875 he attempted to build a tower higher than the Eiffel Tower (it was abandoned after 155 feet) and site became Wembley Stadium (the tower was known as Watkin’s Folly). But Edward made a lot of money by marrying well and managing four railway companies (he was known as The Second Railway King). He guaranteed his immortality by buying Church’s The Icebergs (for a reputed £10,000) and then forgetting about it - or rather, the world forgot about it.



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| The Coupes of Flixton | St Mary's, Great Budworth | Kinship of Strangers |

| The Treasure of Rose Hill |  The Editor's Bookshelves | Proof-Reading |

| Voices From The Past | East Cheshire I Variant Spellings I Ringway Chapel I

 | Frank & Teretta Mitchell's Tithe Maps |

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Last Updated 7 July 2005