The small garden in front of the Orangery contains quite a nice granite water trough, now used as a planter. It is hard up against the low wall by the path and is inscribed ‘’Ladies Humane Education Society – The Gift of EFH 1876’’. The person behind the EFH initials is as yet unknown.
One of the early agitators for the formation of a Ladies Humane Education Society (LHES) was the formidable Lady Angela Burdett-Coutts who wanted the RSPCA to further their educational mission. Lady Angela had also been a rival to the Countess of Wilton for the attention of the Duke of Wellington in the 1840s. Both ladies had corresponded at length and for many years with the Duke, not knowing the other was writing also. According to ‘’Wellington and His Friends’’ authored by the 7th Duke Of Wellington, there are 599 letters surviving between Lady Wilton and the 1st Duke and 842 between the 1st Duke and Lady Burdett-Coutts.
From its earliest mention the RSPCA was averse to the institution of all women groups. They formed a sub-committee of men, who made the rules for a ladies’ society, but with strictly circumscribed functions. The society was formed in 1871 for the purpose of acting, within a 50 mile radius of Manchester, as an auxiliary to the Manchester Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Its secretary, Sarah E Griffin, lived for a while at Holyrood House in Prestwich. The LHES sought to provide water troughs for any animal to use, gave prizes to cabmen, carters and donkey boys for keeping their animals in good condition and also organised educational talks in various towns around Manchester. One such meeting was on Monday 9th November 1874 in the National School in Prestwich and was presided over by the Rev Canon Birch. By the mid 1870s they had provided 11 water troughs, 2 being in Cheetham Hill and one at Agecroft Bridge. The society in Manchester seemed to fizzle out around 1880, and sometime after that, presumably after the sale of the park to Manchester Council, the trough found its way to Heaton Hall.
Thanks to Martin Harper for this research and photos. Tricia.