Cheshire’s Southern Castles and Prodigies

     Cheshire has a delightful varying landscape and is a garden lovers paradise. Situated in the lowest part of Northwest England it is one of England’s richest counties and is a veritable mosaic of architectural styles covering a little more than two millenniums. The residential dwellings vacillate between concentric castles to early timbered black and white Tudors to palatial manor houses which earn their keep through visitor fees, paid events and gift shop sales. The Royal Horticultural Society Flower Show is held there every year at its most sumptuous neo-classical mansion, Tatton Hall along with Tatton Old Hall in its own parkland at Knutsford- on the northeastern portion of the county. Within, it contains the lush flowing moors of Peak National Park and has possession of two internationally used ports in the River Dee estuary and Mersey’s as well. Chester, its chief city, is historically important with its medieval castle, wall remains and winding streets alongside much more modern structures.
     Medieval Cheshire was a Palatine county, meaning that its Norman earls retained powers not unequal to William the Conqueror because of their tolerance against the formidable Welsh resistance. The conquest along the Welsh border was largely a draw between the two factions and from 1237 on, the earldom’s obsolescence was taken over in the person of the King or his heirs. The autonomy of the earls ceased as a result. 
     Unlike the other English/Welsh neighbor counties, Cheshire is no longer rich in medieval castles even if it once had more. There are twenty at present which have good remains or are partially to totally ruinous. Of those twenty, eight are within four miles of the border and twelve are early medieval. There were few Marcher lordships here, certainly fewer than those along the Scots/English border, so the earls prevented anarchy during their time but prior to the Norman invasion the defensive buildings in England were kept by certain communities as Anglo-Saxon burghs against the attacking Danes. Those closest to the border have alternative Welsh names for obvious reasons !
     Beeston Castle, on its mighty rock, has taken on a great importance because of its impressive remains while Chester Castle, beside the River Dee, was leveled in the 19th century and only by a miracle have important ancient portions of it survived. Its origin has been indicated as the home base of the Briton tribe by the name of Cornavii whose domain covered the large area now named in the counties of Chester, Shropshire (Salop), Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Chester’s wall is the most complete of its kind in England though it has been mostly restored. Its size and use is comparable to that of York and Chichester. A short distance, also southeast of Chester on the Cheshire plain, is Beeston Castle’s neighbor, Peckforton Castle– a magnificent Victorian medieval-revival folly! Built by Anthony Salvin in 1844 it sits a short distance from its authentic neighbor in perfect harmony although with obvious differences.

 1. Crown Court and original  site of motte and bailey castle
2. Original stone building of the castle’s inner bailey, The Agricola Tower
3. Flag Tower
 4. Half-Moon Tower (Chester Mint 1696-8) & Guard Tower
5. Military Museum ( once had drawbridge and moat)
6. Gun emplacement platform (built 1745 during the Jacobite Rebellion)
7. Cheshire Military Museum
8. Grosvenor Museum Shop
    Chester’s castle was built in 1070 by Hugh Lupus under William the Conqueror, and once it was established he appointed Hugh D’Avranches as the new Earl of Chester and granted him the castle. From that point it was the principal seat of the Palatine earls. When it passed to the Crown in 1237 the defenses were brought up to date and Ranulf de Blundeville, who had neglected Chester while favoring Beeston, reduced its function to that of gaol (jail) and courthouse. The remains were strong clear up until 1793, when they were demolished for the assize buildings which occupy most of its former space now. These neoclassical buildings were designed by Thomas Harrison and were put up between 1788 and 1813. An 18th century blueprint shows it sans keep but features two baileys within curtain walls. These buildings remain in use today as Crown courts and a military museum.     
     Chester started as the usual motte and bailey and was rebuilt in stone by the 12th century. It was continually built upon clear up to the 13th century with new towers, new gatehouses and an outer bailey all during the Welsh Wars! During the 13th century Henry II built curtain walls for the outer bailey, blocked up the Agricola Tower and placed a Great Hall along with accommodation along the south wall of the inner bailey. Toward the end of that century Edward I added a new gateway to the outer bailey along with two half-drum towers with a drawbridge over a moat that was 26 feet deep. He added chambers for himself and his queen along with a new chapel and stables. The Great Hall was rebuilt late in the 16th century.
     It had been an administrative center to the local earldom but when it became a home to the Crown, as was so often the case, expenditures afforded were merely to maintain the castle but certainly not to the extent that other such castles were of the same size or importance. It was destroyed by fire in the 18th century and the Agricola Tower was the only building that remained standing. 
     The latter mentioned is the castle’s finest feature of which the name suggests that Chester was originally a legionary fortress. As a matter of fact the town was named  Deva  by the Romans and the defenses which went up circa AD 100 (and were built upon for the next three centuries) remain as Chester’s city walls and were originally built for the 20th legion. This square tower, (most likely the early work of Blundeville) was named after the Roman governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, being the original gate tower later superseded by another gatehouse which has since been removed. The top floor contains a finely executed, vaulted Chapel of St Mary de Castro in Norman Transitional style, adorned with well-preserved frescoes which completely cover the walls ! (Author’s note: The entrance to it is barred.) This chapel had been sealed off completely since 1848 but was rediscovered in the 1980s by English Heritage. It has been attributed to Edward II and Henry III. 
     The Danes came in after the Roman evacuation (circa 369) for refuge one winter and managed to fight off the Saxons for possession. By 907 the Earl of Mercia, Ethelred, established Chester as his burgh on the Wessex pattern. William the Conqueror met up with unusual English resistance here but they eventually succumbed to his sieges by 1070. The Welsh resistance was another story. 
     As a result, the present city wall is largely of the 13th century which ordinarily was a period when English towns were rebuilding defenses. The need for their defenses arose from the threat of Llewellyn the Great and Llewellyn the Last of Wales. Rebuilding took place under the palatine earls with the first being circa 1249 when they were forced to cede to the Crown. Building continued for a time but its strategic importance declined after the Edwardian conquest of Wales along with the silting up of the River Dee. The two-mile circuit around the Norman fortifications is another of Chester’s greatest attractions. There is a wonderful photo of a portion of the wall in the new photo album along with more diagrams of the former features, so be sure to check it out. The citizens of the town are largely responsible for the restoration which entailed filling in gaps and repaving the parapet which were damaged during the Civil War.
    Chester_RomanWall__2_EwingGalloway During the Civil War the city walls held the roundheads at bay against the siege, on and off, for three years. Additional redoubts constructed of earth were placed outside the old defenses and were successful. However, after the defeat of Royalist relieving forces at Rowton Heath, the roundheads under Sir William Brereton approached and quickly made a settlement with the town because starvation was imminent. The surrender came in February of 1646.
     The legionary fortress which existed is under the medieval defenses and the more modern structures which exist there today. The usual rectangular plan of Roman forts, with rounded corners and gates on each side have been found and the city wall follows the Roman configuration along the north and east sides, between St. Martin’s Gate and Newgate. Most of the original Roman fortification has disappeared. Since the medieval city expanded beyond the Roman fortifications, to the south and west, it follows the River Dee but near Newgate the foundation of the Roman angle tower clearly shows the differentiation between the two walls.

     Medieval preservation just didn’t happen in Chester for the most part, in all honesty. Four main gatehouses were pulled down and replaced by wide arches to make foot and modern traffic easily accessible. Only two medieval gates remain, which are posterns. One remains on the east side, beside Newgate and another leads to the cathedral. Half of Chester’s flanking towers are gone and there is no evidence that any were placed along the river along the south and west sides. Small, internally projecting towers once stood along the inner curtain.
     The towers which remain are King Charles’ Tower (which has a Civil War exhibition) on the northeast corner and the Water Tower which was built circa 1322-26. The cylindrical Water Tower is 75 feet high with a spur defense projected northwest of its circuit. Between it and the western portion of the city wall is a big loop known as the Roodee. The northern wall which was placed between these two towers is the most attractive portion with the moat still intact. Roman masonry which was rebuilt during the 4th century can be seen between King Charles’ Tower and the North Gate. Other remains include a heavily restored portion of the inner curtain wall along with Henry III’s hidden 13th century Flag Tower.     
Off Castle Square. Car park on Grosvenor Street.
Managed by Chester City Council and open daily 10-5, April- Sept & 10-4 Oct-March.
     Not too far off (two miles south of Tarporley) 350′ high on a sandstone crag above the low lying countryside, Beeston Castle looks down from the northern end of the Peckforton Hills, adjacent to Peckforton Castle. This former bronze and iron-age hillfort site was strategic because it was surrounded by natural defenses along with its obvious look-out advantage. With an inner and outer bailey which was built with great walls and a gatehouse this enclosure castle is entirely insurmountable on three sides and has a deep moat on the fourth. The outer curtain wall was built nearly 7′ thick ! 
     After his return from the crusades, this marvel of Cheshire was built by Ranulf de Blundeville, the Earl of Chester, during the 1220s and is a twin to Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire which was built around the same time, an era which had reached its highest level in fortification architecture. Curiously, there is no keep at Beeston but all the usual elements of motte-and-bailey building is present. Since it is often assumed that only the keep may be used as a residence it has been surmised that rooms in the gatehouse may have been used for residential purposes. This 19th century gatehouse makes a grand and formidable entrance to the main part of the castle, awesome in its ascent and adjoins an earlier two storey twin-towered outer gatehouse- the earliest equipped with rounded-flanking towers.  A good part of the outer curtain wall is quite ruinous but seven D-shaped open-back towers along the east side will impress you and are very closely spaced, which most likely provided very effective flanking fire from the battlements. The ascent will bring you to the inner bailey which has a great gap of exceptional width and depth, spanned by a modern bridge. The wall on the other end of the courtyard has worn thin and has no tower left with the hill leaving a breathtaking drop out on the plain. In some places the drop is nearly four hundred feet !  
     Blundeville was the most powerful palatine earl of Chester and he built several strong castles to dominate and secure his respective territories. By that time the new fashion in building was round flanking towers without a keep and the location was ideal for this unusual strategy in castle building. Unfortunately he died before it was completed in 1232. Blundeville’s heir John le Scot died in 1237 (leaving the castle in the hands of Henry III) and so it remained in an unfinished state- even through wars with the two Welsh Llewelyns- until King Edward took it over at the turn of the century. It was not completed until 1303. By the 16th century it was considered to be of no further military use and was only pressed into service again during the Civil War.  
     This castle has seen fierce military action, as a matter of fact. During the Second Barons’ War (1264-1265) it was taken from the Roundheads (a reference to the Parliamentarians) by Prince Edward from Simon de Montfort who was the 6th Earl of Leicester. It was captured during the Civil War only to be taken back by Edward and his Royalists who scaled the cliffs to regain it! A year long siege for possession ensued but the garrison eventually was forced to surrender in November of 1645. It was then totally slighted by 1646 reducing the structure to its present ruinous state although it is also due to the fact that it was used as a quarry for stone in the 18th century !
     The name Beeston is derived from Sir Hugh Beeston who was a local landowner during the 16th century and he allowed the less fortunate members of his family to live in part of the castle who used the surrounding land for farming. It is a Grade I listed museum thanks to funding by Lord Tollemache who built Peckforton Castle with the help of Anthony Salvin in 1844. He built a lodge house at Beeston two storeys high in the mid-19th century which was later expanded with two circular towers on either side of a central archway. It is now owned by English Heritage and is open to visitors with a small museum and visitor’s center on the site.
     Peckforton , on the other hand, is an early Victorian renaissance which is quite a magnificent example of medieval fortress, nevertheless. This is completely the work of Salvin who was a master of Gothic Revival. Peckforton may be one of his greatest achievements.  Access to it is on the west side of a minor road less than a mile south of Beeston village. A winding road leads up to its own rocky outcrop and sprawls in luxury there. It was meant to be a family home for Lord John but possesses all the features that exist for Edwardian castles with a splendid gatehouse, working portcullis, dry moat and windows which were built more or less authentic. However, this castle was built for the Tollemache family so the interior is much more Victorian and in a flamboyant style with some outstanding features. He is on record for owning the most land in Cheshire at 26,000 acres and he owned land and houses in other counties, one of which is the prodigy moated manor Helmingham Hall in Suffolk. Being a Member of Parliament seems secondary to his prodigious use of fabulous wealth acquired through inheritance at the age of 32. William Gladstone thought very highly of him because of his charitable work, which speaks volumes. 
     Built with nearby quarried red sandstone, the works were carried out by Dean and Son of Leftwich and Joseph Cookson of Tarporley acted as supervisor. This three-storied marvel features a five-storey tower, in which the wings surround a ward with the great hall and most of the residential portion on the north range, opposite the gatehouse. On the west are stables, coach and a bell tower. The eastern wing has a pretty octagonal library tower. Every attempt was made for authenticism with arrow slits, a crenellated parapet and a garderobe in the gatehouse !
     The interior main rooms have rib-vaulted roofs, stone-mullioned windows and had Victorian designations with a dining room, drawing room, gallery and a small chapel next to the gatehouse. The dining room houses an oak sideboard and a wine cellar beneath. The circular tower has a spiral staircase which leads into a large game room.
The castle never had a formal garden but near the kitchen vegetable gardens and an orchard exists.
     Some years after Lord Tollemache died in 1890, his eldest son Wilbraham, 2nd Baron, brought the interior up to date by adding central heating and electricity very late in the 19th century. By 1922 the Peckforton Hills underwent reforestation and the land which the large Tollemache family lived on until 1939 was granted the status of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The last Tollemache was Bentley Lyonel John Tollemache, a 3rd Baron who left to live in Eastbourne, E. Sussex.  During WWII the castle was used by Lady Lynette Tollemache as a hostel for physically handicapped children who were evacuees from London.
     For a time the castle was leased by another Lord John Tollemache to Mr. George W. Barrett and it was used strictly as a private residence. Mr. Barrett did quite a bit of restoration, nevertheless, to portions of the castle including the castle gardens. His daughter’s wedding was the first to be held in the chapel which was decreed legal by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
     Since that time it has been used as a filming location which includes Time Warrior scenes and the Doctor Who series. It has been a wedding venue ever since Pascale Barrett’s wedding and it was converted to a hotel by the American Mrs. E. Graybill who purchased the castle in 1989 and carried on the remaining restoration that Mr. Barrett started early in the 20th century. Thanks to the Naylor family who had a large wedding there in June of 2006 it is now also used as a luxury hotel which also opens its doors for corporate events as well.
T- 01829 260930  Castle hotel, wedding and private function venue.
     All along the Welsh border Peckforton and Beeston Castles had quite a bit of military backup in Aldford, Shocklach, Oldcastle, Pulford, Malpas, Dodleston, Shotwick and Newhall Castles. All have been completely reduced to mere mottes. This was an area of strong Welsh resistance and it is understandable that these once strong fortresses are now in rubble and cannot be seen at all.
          Aldford Castle
    Six miles from Chester Aldford’s motte height is about 17 feet and 33 feet wide with an 8 feet deep surrounding moat. The bailey moat is similar in depth but the width is nearly double that in a triangular shaped area covering 46,000 square feet. There are also indications that a manor house was built on the motte site later but all building portions have vanished. Not much is known about its origin other than that it was built by Richard de Aldford in the 12th century. Only fragments of stone remain but excavations carried out on the flat-topped motte have revealed foundations of a former shell keep with a D-shaped tower.
     Three miles west of there Pulford Castle was placed strategically as an outpost for Chester which is only a few miles away. The name is Welsh, pwll-ffordd, which means marsh crossing. Along with Dodleston and Aldford it served more as a guard tower with a moat, where the crossing of the River Dee was very crucial. Most likely all three of these castles suffered casualties during the Glyndwr revolt in 1403. Most of the building of Pulford has been attributed to Hugh d’Avrances or his son Richard FitzHugh who was Earl of Cheshire from 1101-1120. Dodleston was founded by Osberne Fitz Tezzon and had a wide wet ditch and a large square bailey. It is certain that these were only timber castles and most likely were never rebuilt in stone.
     Shotwick Castle on the other hand was most likely built in timber and stone by Hugh Lupus or de Blundeville. It is situated north of Chester above the River Dee. A hexagonal stone wall was erected around the 11th century bailey and stone shell keep in the 12th or 13th century reminiscent of Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire. Henry II and III stayed at this castle during campaigns countering the Welsh and Edward I also visited in September of 1284 when on his way to Flint Castle. By the 17th century it was reduced to nothing. 
 Malpas Castle        
     Eleven to 16 miles south of Chester, along the southern portion of the Cheshire/Welsh border Shocklach, Malpas, Oldcastle and  Newhall Castles have also been reduced to mostly earthworks with photos often only showing a grassed over motte like the one shown above for Aldford Castle. Newhall, a fortified tower house, which was situated between Combermere Abbey and Nantwich may have been rebuilt or repaired as late as the 16th century although nothing was left in evidence by the time Ormerond published the history of Cheshire in 1819. Its earthwork outlines are impressive along with dressed sandstone as architectural fragments (which include pillar bases !) and have since been reused.
     If you head north of there up to Nantwich you can view the former site of the city’s castle where Gregory’s, a popular night club, sits in its place. The mound still exists but it was a small tower which had a moat about 12 feet deep. Several excavations have been made in very recent years to secure proof of the existence of the moat. This castle was built by William Malbank for his brother whose name was Piers circa 1160 to 1170 for the purpose as a watchtower. After 1282 the materials of timber and any stone used was taken to rebuild the town. A good portion of these materials went into the building of the south transept of St Mary’s Church.
       Dorfold Hall   
     A hop, skip and jump west of Nantwich, Dorfold Hall  sits in beautiful hunting grounds as a Jacobean prototype. It has been modernized but it’s difficult to tell until you go inside. This was built in 1616 for Ralph Wilbraham, an ancestor of Tollemache. The lime avenue and courtyard were designed much later in 1862 by the landscape architect, William Nesfield, as a birthday present for the lady of the house. Unfortunately, she wasn’t very impressed but most everyone will love it.
     The first floor contains hall, dining room and library (with an Adamic ceiling!)  with beautiful plasterwork. Upstairs was not altered significantly with its Grand Chamber above the old hall featuring a barrel-vaulted intricately executed plaster ceiling. It reflects the work done at Lyme Park with emblems of rose, thistle and fleur-de-lys. Portraits of the Roundells are hung here with a recent one by Howard Morgan.
    Cholmondeley Castle (pronounced: Chum-ley)
     Heading west on the A500 to A49 junction will place you on the wonderful grounds of Cholmondeley Castle  which is a Gothic renaissance beauty in pink-grey stone. These grounds cover 5,000 acres and includes two lakes. This family seat has been in effect since 1200. An earlier house built of brick and timber in 1541 by William Smith and remodeled by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1713 and 1715 was torn down. The present castle was built in 1801 on a design by architect William Turner taking direction from the 1st Marquess, George Cholmondeley, and was augmented later by Robert Smirke in 1829. (Smirke also worked on the renaissance castles of Eastnor in Herefordshire and Lowther in Cumberland.)
     This castle has never been open for public tours, except for the gift shop in the basement. It has become a garden lovers paradise, however, with one of the most diverse and spectacular ornamental parks in northwest England with no less than 7,500 acres of every kind of tree and beautifully landscaped. This was the work of Dowager Lady Lavinia Cholmondeley who worked alongside her late husband for fifty years. It was originally laid out by George London with additions of ironwork by Jean Tijou (now moved to Houghton Hall in Norfolk, another Cholmondeley estate), a fountain by John van Nost, William Emes surpassing landscape park and John Webb’s camellia walk, an encompassing terrace. Other additions were a bowling green, aviary and a Temple Garden.   T- 01829 720383   
                                        Combermere Abbey 
     Combermere Abbey  sits right on the border between Cheshire and Shropshire. This Cistercian Abbey has also served as a family home to the Cotton and Crossley families since 1133. It was founded by Hugh de Malbank and originally sat on 22,000 acres which included part of Nantwich and a church at Acton !
     After the dissolution of the monasteries many of the original buildings were demolished and only the Abbot’s House, which was built in 1539, remained. Sir George Cotton was granted the estate and it remained in his family line until 1919. Much of what you will see were additions to the Abbot’s House including its Gothic ornamentation. Wellington’s wing was added to mark his visit in 1820 but unfortunately was torn down later in 1972 because of maintenance problems. Some portions of the 14th century monastery remain in the Abbot’s House.
     Presently the estate retains 1,100 acres with a monument dedicated to Stapleton Cotton, a game larder, clock tower and stable block dating from 1837. Groups can visit on appointment basis on Thursdays. There is an active organic farm on the premises and many of the listed buildings have been restored for holiday cottages along with a wedding venue.

 St Chad’s Tower at Wybunbury

     As you head northeast the Leaning Tower of St. Chad’s at Wybunbury  might be interesting to you. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it was stabilized using underexcavation by James Trubshaw in 1832. This predated the work on the tower in Italy by quite a number of years and the original work in Pisa has since been superseded with new technology in stabilizing techniques. St. Chad’s looks quite normal by comparison, I must say. This tower once belonged to a late 15th century church but the square tower is quite high at 29 meters and is worth seeing. Surrounded by gravestones it has seen two other demolitions of later built churches on the premises in 1892 and 1977 !  
                                                            Doddington Hall
     Situated five miles southeast of Nantwich, Doddington Castle  was built from 1364-1403 by Sir John Delves and his son which was originally called Delves Castle. He built this tower in the 14th century after he received a license to crenellate by Edward III. The elder Sir John distinguished himself at the Battle of Poitiers as one of Lord Audley’s squires. This tower was not built onto the 18th century mansion, Doddington Hall , which Samuel Wyatt planned within the grounds of Doddington Park but it does share the estate with the mansion which was commissioned by Sir Thomas Broughton. The tower was incorporated into a series of domestic buildings in the 17th century which were later demolished in 1777. It still stands rather like a monument on the grounds all by itself, a sandstone edifice, three stories high with the Grade 1 listing pedigree. The listing is well-deserved considering that a vaulted ground floor and corner turrets are in wonderful condition. The first floor entrance, which is an unusual feature for a late-medieval tower house, has been restored with a Jacobean staircase.
     You’ll find Little Moreton Hall ,  a few miles north from the A534 just four miles south of Congleton. This is Cheshire’s best example of a timber-framed black and white Tudor and also Britain’s finest moated manor house ! Any visitors will find that it is also astonishingly unique in design. Some feel that its survival and good overall condition are nothing less than a miracle.
     The National Trust turned this prototype for the Picturesque movement into a museum in 1938. It was started in 1450 by Sir Richard de Moreton with a Great Hall. After that it went through continuous building with service wing, solar and chapel added. Next came the guest chambers on the first floor of the gatehouse along with the wonderful bay windows to the Great Hall and Old Parlour by 1559. The Long Gallery was added above the gatehouse wing in the 1580s. Completion of it basically took 130 years which is unusual for this type of structure. That isn’t all.
     For its day, Little Moreton was already old-fashioned but it makes up for that in its design. It is a gingerbread house with a couple of twists. The asymmetrical façade wraps itself around a cobbled courtyard and from a distance it appears as if the bays and porches are trying to occupy the same space. During the process of building the hall it encompassed two eras: Late medieval and the renaissance period. As a result, the motifs are absolutely stunning for effect, as can be seen in the carving of beams and fireplaces. The disorienting south wing will throw you off guard making you wonder if you stepped into a fairy tale but once inside this architectural quirk will ill-prepare you for the warping that has taken place inside. By 1570 the south wing was added and the oversailing third storey glazed gallery, which was most likely added quite late in the stages of construction. The weight of the gallery’s glass, timber and gritstone roofing slates caused the lower floors to bow and warp under the pressure and accounts for the reason that many visitors feel almost as if they are on a drunk when they tour through the lower floors of the house. It was determined by the 19th century that the problem was lack of a proper foundation and steel rods were inserted to support the added weight.
     The Moreton family were Royalists, so when the Civil War broke out the house was simply requisitioned and Cromwell’s soldiers used it in a utilitarian manner. At the end of the war they were financially ruined and had to take in tenants who used it like a farmhouse. Most of the house was unoccupied and simply used for storage and a barn. It was in a ruinous condition when it was inherited by Miss Elizabeth Moreton who was an Anglican nun.
      She took on the restoration of the house but never occupied it and eventually she bequeathed the house to her cousin, Charles Abraham who was the Bishop of Derby. He finished the restoration and then transferred ownership to the National Trust. They, in turn, restored the neglected gardens which have been restored to the Tudor era with a knot garden in the 1980s, a yew tunnel and an orchard of apple, pear, quince and medlar trees were added, too.
     In addition, Little Moreton Hall is a movie star appearing in Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders in 1996 and in David Dimbleby’s 2007 documentary, How We Built Britain. You can buy a guide for the hall before you visit. For more information:
       Rode Hall   is not far away but sits on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border 3 miles northwest of Kidsgrove on Church Lane. This red brick manor shares its Wilbraham ancestry with the Bakers since it was Mr Baker who took on the name of Wilbraham back in 1872 upon his marriage into the estate. This is much more common in England among the landed gentry than one might imagine. Preservation of the name on family estates was as important as the actual preservation of the homes and castles at that time. This family has the distinction of one Sir George Baker being one of the doctors in attendance to George III who was treated for insanity late in the 18th century.
       This particular manse has been in the Wilbraham family since 1669 and it is obvious it had two construction periods because one part is middle Georgian and another two-storied portion, the main building, in Queen Anne style with a pillared loggia at the entrance. Alterations were made by Lewis Wyatt in 1812 and then a modern addition by Darcy Braddell in 1927. The chief interest of many visitors to Rode is Sir Richard’s collection of china and porcelain and the house also boasts a continuous line of family portraits, many from Reynolds and other artists clear up to the present day. 
     The landscaping and gardens were originally laid out by Humphrey Repton and later Willian Nesbit had a go with the formal gardens by adding roses in 1860. John Webb constructed the Pool which is an artificial lake of 40 acres in size. The actual gardens are quite extensive and profuse with color when in bloom. It includes a woodland garden, terraced rock garden and grotto with many species of rhododendrons, azaleas, hellebores, climbing roses followed by snowdrops and daffodils in spring. A large walled kitchen garden yields in June.  T-01270 873237
The northern Cheshire castles and more are coming very soon ! While you’re waiting why not
have a look at the larger photos in the new Cheshire photo album ?
     Remember, friends are the flowers in the garden of life !  
                Seulement l’amities du Chateau Demoiselle toujours mes amis ! 
 Bless all our guys at home and abroad during Veteran’s Day !

About Evelyn

The Castle Lady Official web site: other blogs:
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2 Responses to Cheshire’s Southern Castles and Prodigies

  1. Leona says:

    What a wealth of information you have packed into this post. There\’s so much here to digest I would never remember it all, just have to bookmark it for future reference. I\’m just stopping by to say “Hello”, mainly to show my face and let you know I\’m thinking of you. Hope you have a fantastic Friday and a super weekend!


  2. Evelyn says:

    It\’s good to see you Leona. Yes, I know it\’s a lot of information and I\’m only half done. I\’m trying to be careful about how much information I put into a single entry and still they\’re big. Glad to see you and have a great weekend too ! ; )


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