By: Robert Mendick, chief reporter.
Who needs the glamour of Hollywood when Rochdale holds its own allure?
When DePree, a blue-eyed, blond-haired American rather more redolent of a surfer than a conservationist, learned Hopwood Hall was lying derelict and in danger of collapse, he decided to rescue it.
And in true Hollywood fashion, he is attempting to fund its repair by turning his own efforts at renovation into a profitable reality television show.
Hopwood DePree is renovating his ancestral home Hopwood Hall (pictured) near Rochdale, Greater Manchester
For the time being DePree is living in £22-a-night bed and breakfast accommodation.
He first became aware of the ancestral home, a Grade II*-listed two-storey brick-and-stone manor house that dates back to 1426, when he began researching his own name on the internet. Lord Byron stayed there briefly in 1811.
He began researching his family tree and discovered the existence of Hopwood Hall on the internet. That led to a visit three years ago. When plans recently fell through to build a hotel, DePree stepped in.
Rochdale council is eager for him to succeed. “Having spent a number of years working to find a way forward for this fantastic Grade II*-listed building, we are thrilled to see that Hopwood is so passionate about bringing it back into use,” said Councillor Janet Emsley.
“We will work with him every step of the way to help make this happen. Nobody wants to see this fascinating project succeed more than we do.”