Arley Hall

Arley Hall

Arley Hall is a Grade II* listed country house in Arley, Cheshire, England (gbmapping|SJ675809) convert|3.8|mi|km|0 south of Lymm and 5 miles (8 km) north of Northwich. It is home to Viscount Ashbrook.



In 1469 Piers Warburton moved his principal seat from Warburton to Arley where he built the first house on this site. It consisted of a 'U'-shaped building with the centre of the 'U' facing south. At the north was the great hall measuring convert|45|ft|m long by convert|26|ft|m wide (13.7m by 8m). The high table was at the west end and the west wing contained the family apartments. The east wing was the servants' wing and included the buttery, pantry and kitchens. Originally it was surrounded by a square moat.The original Arley Hall was constructed as a timber-framed building. About 1570 a three-storeyed south front was added, making the house a complete square with a large internal courtyard."Arley Hall and Gardens" (guidebook), Jarrold Publishing, 1999.]

In the 18th century the structure of the house was deteriorating and in 1758 Sir Peter Warburton completely encased the house in new brick walls. These were finished with stucco to make neoclassical façades. The massive old chimneys were removed and replaced with small flues within the new walls. However structural problems continued and in the 19th century Rowland Egerton-Warburton decided to completely replace the house.

Rowland's intention was that the house should reflect the antiquity of his inheritance but should be constructed using techniques which were modern at the time. He chose as his architect George Latham from Nantwich who was still at that time aged in his twenties. The style chosen was Tudor with every feature having an exact model in some existing Elizabethan building. The first phase of the building took place between 1832 and 1835 when the east, north and west wings of the old building were demolished. The house was equipped with modern plumbing and it was raised on arches above the damp Cheshire clays. The second phase was to replace the old south front between 1840 and 1845. The final cost of the house was near to £30,000. Roland Warburton wanted to have a Gothic chapel to be added to the north-east of the house and he commissioned Anthony Salvin to design this. The chapel was consecrated in 1845. In 1856-57 a north aisle and entrance porch designed by George Street were added.

In the 20th century parts of the south front were affected by dry rot and these were demolished in 1968, together with some of the servants' quarters, kitchens and offices to reduce maintenance costs. However this was considered to damage the architectural integrity of the building and the lost wings were replaced with five new houses in 1987.Arley Hall was designated a Grade II* listed building in 1959. [cite web |title=Arley Hall |publisher=Images of England |url= |accessdate=2007-12-03]



The house is now approached by an avenue of pleached lime trees with on the left the ticket office and shop in what was formerly the coach house. Next is the clock tower which was built in the 19th century but the clock has only one hand, to make it look much older. [ Garden tour by Jane Foster] ] On the left of the clock tower is a former barn now used as a restaurant. To the right of the clock tower is a 15th century cruck barn known as 'The Ride' because it was used as an indoor riding school in the 19th century. Its brick floor was laid in 1976.


*The West Hall forms the current entrance which was added in 1862. The panelling comes from the old house.
*The Dining Room is panelled and contains a table which can comfortably seat 24 people.
*The Library has one of Latham's most elaborate ceilings.
*The Gallery was the principal sitting room in the 19th century.
*The Drawing Room contains portraits of Rowland Egerton-Warburton and his close relatives.
*The Small Dining Room has a barrel-shaped ceiling and contains a virginal of 1675 by Stephen Keene.
*The Grand Staircase is made of oak with panelled plasterwork. There is a dome over the staircase hall.
*The South Bay Bedroom was originally the principal bedroom.
*The Emperor's Room is so-called because it was used as a bedroom by Prince Louis Napoleon before he became Napoleon III in the winter of 1847-48.
*The Exhibition Room contains designs of the original buildings going back to 1470. There are also photographs of the present Hall before parts of it were demolished in 1968, family portraits and pictures of the estate workers. Also in the room is a prayer alcove with a skylight.
*The General's Room contains memorabilia of General Sir George Higginson and his family. [ [ House tour by Lord Ashbrook] ]


The first walled gardens were built in 1743 by Sir Peter and Lady Elizabeth Warburton. Between 1840 and 1860 Rowland and Mary Egerton-Warburton re-designed the garden whose basic composition remains today. It is still maintained in the manner of a pre-war country house garden. The principal features are:

*The Flag Garden is the first area after passing under the clock tower. It was designed by Antoinette Egerton-Warburton in 1900 and gets its name from the stone flags which form its paths.
*The Furlong Walk forms the main axis of the garden, a terrace convert|220|yd or one furlong (201m) long.
*The Herbaceous Border is probably the best known feature of the garden and was one of the first such borders to be planted in England. The central path was originally gravelled but was grassed in 1946.
*The Alcove is a decorative covered seating area at the end of the herbaceous border.
*The Tea Cottage is a small half-timbered building formerly used for garden tea parties. Inside are illuminated plaques with verses written by Rowland Egerton-Warburton.
*The Ilex Avenue consists of fourteen holm oaks clipped to the shape of giant cylinders.
*The Fish Garden contains a pool which used to contain goldfish. It was created in the 1920s by Lettice Waters.
*The Sundial Circle contains a lawn and shrub roses surrounding the sundial.
*The Rootree was originally designed to resemble a miniature mountain landscape, complete with hills, rocks, a pool and a secret grotto. It was named after a number of large roots or stumps of trees upon which twined ivies and other climbing plants.
*The Rough is kept as a semi-wild site for trees, shrubs and naturalised bulbs.
*The Walled Garden was used as a large kitchen garden with fruit trees, herbs, vegetable patches and beehives until 1939. From 1946 to 1960 it was used as a commercial market garden after which it was converted into a pleasure garden. It includes an idealised flower sculpture in the centre of the pond which was created by Tom Leaper.
*The Kitchen Garden is still used for its original purpose to grow vegetables and flowers for the family.
*The Vinery was built in 1872-73 and is planted with fig trees.
*The Herb Garden was re-designed in 1969.
*The Scented Garden was created in 1977 and is planted with aromatic flowers.
*The Grove extends eastwards from the chapel and from 1970 has been developed into a woodland garden and walk.The gardens are on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens at Grade II*. [cite web |url= |title=U.K. Database of Historic Parks and Gardens: Arley Hall |accessdate=2008-03-11 |publisher=University of York ]


The park land surrounding the house is in excess of convert|2000|acre|ha|-1.

Within the park is Stockley Farm, a working farm which is open to the public and organised as a tourist attraction particularly for children.


Arley Hall has been used on a number of occasions as a television filming location. It has been used for the series "Cluedo" and as Soames' house in "The Forsyte Saga". It was also used as a a backdrop for "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and it has hosted two "Coronation Street" weddings. [ [ Filming at Arley Hall] ]


External links

* [ Official Site]
* [ Stockley Farm]

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