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?

Sir Philip Mainwairing's cuirassier armour, St Lawrence's Church, Peover

Lyme Hall has already been briefly mentioned in the first part of 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 helped put down Booth's rebellion.


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

Peover Hall and St Lawrence's Church both featured briefly in Rupert's March North: Part One. Peover Hall is a private residence, but can be visited during the summer months. Guided tours are available: sadly photography is not allowed inside the property, and it might be best to take the commentary from the guides with a generous pinch of salt.

 If following a SatNav to get to Peover, please note many struggle to find the entrance to the estate - Google Maps works!

Peover Hall

Peover was the home of the Mainwairing family for a thousand years and towards the end of the family's tenure, the house fell on hard times, much of its contents were sold off, the house eventually changing hands in the early twentieth century. 

Bought by the Brooks family at the outbreak of the second world war, it was requisitioned for the war effort and became Patton's headquarters. Sadly, the Americans didn't look after the place very well and the damage caused to the Georgian wing of the house helped hasten its demolition in the 1960s.

Henry Brooks attended many country house sales buying furniture and artefacts in keeping with the style of Tudor Peover. For which he, and his family (who have continued this act of restoration) should be applauded.

The Great Hall is decorated with what is described as mostly mid seventeenth century arms and armour. Some of it is, having been removed from St Lawrence's for display in the Hall. Unfortunately the vast majority of armour on display is Napoleonic, with a few bits of Victorian replicas thrown into the mix. One of the Duke of Wellington's boots is proudly displayed - it is possibly the best item in the room, unfortunately it wasn't Wellington's. It appears to be a seventeenth century bucket top boot, and is absolutely fabulous.

The Oak Bedroom has a fine portrait of Catherine of Braganza, Charles II's queen. There is a beautiful Tudor bed in the room, which is festooned with heraldry from Henry VIII's coat of arms, which sadly causes the guide's script no end of problems.

The State Bedroom features a number of portraits of Charles I and his family members. 

A very fine copy of Strafford and his secretary (Sir Philip Mainwairing) from the school of Van Dyck hangs in what is called the Officers' Mess. This copy of the painting has long been associated with Peover and was returned to the house by the Brooks family.

Architecturally the highlight of Peover are the Carolian Stables.



St Lawrence's Church houses the Mainwaring family chapel. On display is Sir Philip Mainwaring's cuirassier armour, a breast plate, a lobster pot helmet and a morion.






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
Peover Hall, Peover WA16 9HW

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Comments

  1. Very interesting - some great portraits there.

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

      Delete

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