Houses of Interest: Cheshire

The County of my birth, and just a few miles away from Château KeepYourPowderDry, so why has it taken so long to get around to writing an entry?

Lyme Hall has already been briefly mentioned in the first part Rupert's March North. A National Trust property (so expect lots of Colin Firth memorabilia, travel blankets and expensive boiled sweets for sale in the shop). Let's get Colin Firth out of the way first: yes, Lyme was the location for that lake scene in the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Surprised there isn't a statue of Colin emerging from the lake...

The Legh's were staunch Royalists, although didn't really have much to do with the soldiering due to a series of unfortunate events. Peter Legh XI inherited the property from his father just before the outbreak of war. He was elected MP for Newton in 1640, but died from his injuries sustained in a duel in 1642. His son, Frances inherited the Hall but died without issue in 1643. Frances's nephew inherited the hall. Richard was a minor during the Civil war but was elected as an MP during the Commonwealth. His support of the Royalists led him to become Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire during the Restoration.
Thomas Legh, Richard's brother

What's there now?
Lyme really is spectacular on a sunny day, the National Trust and it's army of volunteers do a magnificent job at keeping the estate in pristine condition.

Arty picture, well, just because

Whilst untouched during the fighting, there are a number of portraits and artefacts pertinent to the wars.

The Stag Room houses a number of portraits of Charles I and Charles II. The Charles I chairs are also on display here.

Two of the Charles chairs

Interestingly, the story of the Charles chair(s) appears to have changed. One of the set of four chairs used to be displayed so you could see the black cloth underneath the seat - this was described as being part of the cloak worn by Charles on the day of his execution. It was used underneath the chair as, for obvious reasons, it couldn't be on open display. Nowadays the story presented is very different: the seats of all four chairs were upholstered with the lining of Charles's cloak. Which is true?

Charles I

James Stuart, Duke of Richmond and part of the stag frieze

One of two Charles II portraits on display in the Stag Room
There are a number of interesting portraits on display other than those in the Stag Room.

The Earl of Strafford, known as 'Black Tom Tyrant' for his treatment of the Irish

Sir Henry Gage, breaker of the siege of Basing House, briefly Governor of Oxford

Lyme is home to the 'Lyme Missal' deemed the most important book in the NT's collection. It is also home to some of Grinling Gibbons's finest work, although the room that they are in has a multimedia display about the Missal in it which distracts, somewhat, from the stunning carvings.

Please note Lyme can be incredibly busy on sunny weekends and school holidays, check the NT website for the Park and Ride options.

Not exactly a 'house of interest', but outside Duckinfield Town Hall (which was part of Cheshire during the Civil Wars, now a Metropolitan Borough of Manchester), there is a statue of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Duckinfield. Robert  defended Stockport from Prince Rupert, besieged Wythenshawe, and captured the Isle of Man.  He also put down Booth's rebellion against Richard Cromwell.

Tabley House in Knutsford was built in the 1760s and now is run as a nursing home. So why does it feature in the ECW Travelogue? Tabley House houses the the Tabley House Collection, amongst the art treasures on display is William Dobson's portrait of Lord Byron, which features the wound he received  on New Years Day 1643 at Burford, when he was struck on his left cheek by a halberd.

Congleton has a number of places of  interest: firstly Congleton Museum in the Market Square has two important Civil war era coin hoards. The first, and largest hoard is known as the Walker Hoard. Actually his was four separate hoards but potentially are related as they share some similarities. In total there are 3400 coins dating from Edward VI to Charles II, and are believed to have been buried in 1675. The smaller hoard consists of 18 coins found embedded in the wall of a timber frame house on Moody Street - these coins bear the heads of James I and Charles I.

Congleton has a number of old timber framed buildings: one, has a connection to the regicide John Bradshaw. The White Lion is believed to have been the offices where Bradshaw served his articles as a trainee.

John Bradshaw lived in Congleton, his house has long since been demolished, the Georgian house that now stands on the site bears a plaque.

St Helen's Church in Tarporley, located just off the High Street has  several pieces of armour found in the fields close by. There was skirmish close by, the armour possibly being discarded after this fight. There is a close helmet, two pikemen's pots, and a pair of breastplates.

Gawsworth Hall was the home of Sir Edward Fitton; who raised a Regiment of Foot for the King; he was involved in the Storming of Bristol; and would be given command of  the Bristol garrison in July 1642. He died suddenly of consumption and is buried in St James The Great, Gawsworth. The Hall would then pass into the ownership of Sir Charles Gerrard.

Sir Edward, and his wife Anne

For more Cheshire related Civil War sites see also:

Postcodes for SatNavs
Lyme Park SK12 2NR
Duckinfield Town Hall SK16 4LA
Tabley House, Knutsford WA16 0HB
Congleton Museum  CW12 1ET
White Lion, Congleton CW12 1BD
Bradshaw House, Congleton CW12 1RU
St Helen's Church, Tarporley CW6 0AG
Gawsworth Hall  SK11 9RN
St James The Great, Gawsworth SK11 9RJ

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  1. Very interesting - some great portraits there.

    1. Really think I need to seek out some Parliamentarian supporting households to maintain 'balance'.


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