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Baron Stanley's legacy - Alderley Edge's teetotal history

PUBLISHED: 23:03 03 October 2012 | UPDATED: 12:14 28 February 2013

Hassan in front of The Wizard which Baron Henry Stanley succeeded in closing for a while

Hassan in front of The Wizard which Baron Henry Stanley succeeded in closing for a while

Research student Hassan Sajjad reveals the campaign by a former Alderley Edge resident to make the village teetotal

The village of Alderley Edge is renowned for its designer boutiques, upmarket eateries and lavish houses. It is one of the most appealing places to live in the UK.

Counting the likes of footballers Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick among its residents, the village boasts a number of celebrity locals.
However the area hasnt always been known for its La Lifestyle, Cheshire Postcode, as described on the MTV reality drama Living on the Edge.

In fact, its colourful and culturally diverse history provides an interesting background to the modern day glamour that Alderley Edge embodies.

Twenty-one-year-old Manchester University student, Hassan Sajjad has extensive knowledge of the areas surprisingly diverse past, following his research studying the suburban movement of Muslim communities.
Its fair to say that Alderley Edges teetotal history stands in stark contrast to todays conspicuous champagne sales, he muses. Hassan draws upon a temporary prohibition which occurred when Islam convert, Baron Henry Stanley, took over the Alderley Edge estate following his fathers death in 1869.

At the time, it was unusual for someone with such a deep-rooted aristocratic background, to become infatuated with Eastern culture.

Hassan reveals: At the age of twelve, he asked for an Arabic grammar book for his birthday, and his obsession took off from there. After boarding at Eton College, the Baron had a brief one-year stint at Cambridge, where he studied Arabic. His interest in the Near East and Asia inspired him to travel. Sajjad said: While he was abroad, it is presumed that he visited Mecca, although there is no official proof of this.

By the time he took over his fathers estate, he had fully converted to Islam, and was frequently spotted adorning Turkish-style robes. As a strict Muslim, Stanley refrained from drinking alcohol and in turn closed Alderley Edges main pubs, including the famous watering hole The Wizard. As a result, such constraints meant that he was not the most popular person among locals.

Even his own brother teased him. He was known to greet his brother in the morning with Im pleased to tell you brother that we have had such a good breakfast, so much so, only the ham is left in a crude reference to the forbidden consumption of pork in the Islam religion.

He was however, a regular visitor to Britains first mosque in Liverpool, and respected among the Muslim community. Stanleys cultured influence was spread not only locally, but also on a national level, as he lovingly funded the restorations of various churches such as Llanbadrig, in Anglesey.

However he assured his Islamic beliefs were present through geometric and symbolic decoration. He gained political influence through his chair as the first Muslim member of the House of Lords. Interestingly, this influence did not extend internally, within his family as his son was an avid atheist. After his father passed away, he would make sure that everyone who attended his dinner parties, justified their religious beliefs, said Hassan.

Upon his death, Baron Stanley was respectfully granted a traditional Islamic funeral. It would have been quite unique at the time, for a man from a wealthy aristocratic background to be given a Janazah funeral. It was quite an event. The chief mourner at his burial was the First Secretary to the Ottoman Embassy in London, who he knew from his days as a diplomat, and his funeral was conducted by Abdulla QuillIam Effendi, a prominent national figure. Facing Mecca, he was buried at home, in the garden of his estate.

So what has become of the Stanley Estate now? In 1939, the family had to sell the estate to meet the cost of death duties. In 1963, it was sold off to ICI, the chemical company. Now, the estate belongs to Astrazeneca, which is quite interesting as I guess some people might associate modernity, this cutting edge technology, as sort of the antithesis of Islam and its traditions.

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