This week, writer and former Warrington Guardian reporter Barry McLoughlin profiles three stately homes that are on our doorstep or just a relatively short drive away.


From 1973 to 1980, I worked as a reporter for the Guardian, thrilling at the weekly rumble of the printing presses which reverberated through the whole building. Right opposite the office stood Warrington’s glorious Grade 1 listed Georgian Town Hall.

Originally known as Bank Hall, it was designed by the architect James Gibbs – builder of the Radcliffe Library at Oxford among many other celebrated structures – and constructed in 1750 for industrialist Thomas Patten.

Unusually, and perhaps uniquely, the hall is built on a foundation made of moulded blocks of copper from the Pattens’ smelting works at Bank Quay. Just as striking as the house are its renowned Golden Gates, which have been refurbished to their former grandeur.

The Grade II* listed gates were made for the International Exhibition of 1862 in London and were originally intended for Queen Victoria’s Sandringham home in Norfolk. Before joining the Guardian, I attended Lymm Grammar School, which was founded in the 17th century. In 1945 the school acquired Oughtrington Hall, the fine Grade II listed neo-classical mansion which now forms the centrepiece of the much-expanded Lymm High School.

Another Warrington-area stately home is, of course, Walton Hall and Gardens, covering 32 acres of parkland with woodland walks, children’s zoo and well-equipped play area.

The former home of Lord and Lady Daresbury, the Grade II listed house was built between 1836 and 38 and was extended in the mid 19th century.


An aerial view of Capesthorne Hall

An aerial view of Capesthorne Hall

Almost a millennium of history – from the Norman conquest to the space age – is encapsulated on the Capesthorne estate. As you approach it down the long drive, the huge Jodrell Bank radio-telescope looms into view in the distance. To the left of the drive is the site of the now-vanished medieval Siddington Village and of the original Capesthorne Hall. Ahead stands the present-day mansion, dating from 1719, Capesthorne was one of the first stately homes in the country to be opened to the public, in 1955.

The current owners are Sir William and Lady Bromley-Davenport. The estate has been in the hands of Sir William’s family since Domesday times. Lady Bromley-Davenport is an accomplished artist who paints under the name of E B Watts and has exhibited across the world.

With its majestic Jacobean-style architecture, it is set in 100 acres of parkland – with the wider estate reaching 5,000 acres – and contains glorious gardens, woodland and a chain of three lakes.

The Grade II* listed hall at Siddington, five miles west of Macclesfield, contains a wealth of treasures: fine paintings, Greek vases, marble sculptures, porcelain, tapestries and antiques dating from 1153.

It also houses English, European, Far Eastern and American antique furniture collected by family members. Built of mellow red Flemish brick and ashlar stone, the hall is an awe-inspiring sight with its towers and pinnacles. After a period of post-war of disarray, it was revived under the stewardship of Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport and his American wife Lenette, parents of the present Sir William.

Getting there

  • By car: Capesthorne is 15 miles south of Manchester down the A34 and a short distance past the east-west A537 Knutsford to Macclesfield Road. It’s easily accessible from M6 junctions 17, 18 and 19 and M56 junction 6.
  • By train: Capesthorne is about five miles from Macclesfield and Wilmslow stations.
  • The hall is closed but the woodland walk and wilderness trail are open on Sundays and Mondays. Entry is by timed ticket. Call 01625 861221 or visit


Beeston Castle walls

Beeston Castle walls

Clambering up to Beeston Castle, you can’t help but sympathise with the luckless troops who laid siege to it during the Middle Ages and the Civil War. English Heritage has done an ingenious job in making the precipitous hilltop fortress more accessible, but even in the 21st century it’s still a steep trek to the summit. You need to tread carefully: there are sheer cliffs, and large areas of uneven surfaces.

After scaling the hill, however, you are rewarded with far-reaching views, which on a clear day span eight counties, from the Pennines and the Peaks in the east to Snowdonia in the west, and from Merseyside in the north to The Wrekin in Shropshire to the south.

Standing majestically on a rocky crag of red sandstone 350ft above the Cheshire Plain, Beeston Castle is one of the most dramatically sited medieval ruins in England. The ‘Crusader’-style royal castle with a 40-acre woodland park – and a 4,000-year history – dominates the landscape near Tarporley.

Getting there

  • By car: The castle is located about two miles south-west of Tarporley on Chapel Lane off the A49.
  • By train: Chester station is well served by trains.
  • Visitors need to book timed tickets in advance. Call 01829 260464 or visit

Stately Homes Alone: Independent Country Houses in the North West is available for £12.50 at Readers are advised to contact the properties first to check what is open.