Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire
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Renowned for its striking black and white timber framed buildings, Cheshire is considered by many to be one of the most picturesque counties in England. However, even here, there are occasions when one stumbles across a scene so quintessentially English that it cannot fail to leave a lasting impression. The small hamlet of Gawsworth is one such place.

Set amongst leafy lanes, the beautiful timber-framed, predominantly Tudor Gawsworth 'Old' Hall stands opposite Gawsworth 'New' Hall, its Georgian neighbour. A series of large ponds separate the two halls and, to the west, the late medieval Church of St James completes this idyllic rural scene.

On approaching the Hall, the North elevation appears quite modest but, once the visitor moves around to the west of the building, the full beauty of Gawsworth unfolds. Its richly carved gables, black and white timber walls and soft brick chimneys, perfectly complimented by a lush green lawn, climbing roses, stone urns spilling with flowers, and an attractive water fountain. With a backdrop of a fabulous blue sky, the scene created would happily grace any period film set.

The interior of Gawsworth Hall does not disappoint either. A series of rooms, full of warm rich timber and period decoration offer such a cosy ambience. It is not difficult to imagine the roar from any one of the hall's impressive fireplaces might keep the occupants feeling warm and secure on the fiercest winter's night.

The earliest known property to have been built on the site dated from the Norman period, but the first documentary evidence dates from 1365 when a licence was granted for a Chapel. Gawsworth Hall as seen today was built between 1480 and 1600. However, like most properties of its age, the Hall has been modified considerably from its original Tudor plan.

Research suggests that Gawsworth Hall would have originally formed a quadrangle around a central courtyard, and most likely have been surrounded by a moat. The original western range is believed to have been demolished c1700, and much of the south range has also been altered. The courtyard would have been where the current rose garden is situated.

To the south of Gawsworth Hall, beyond a formal garden, is a large open area which may have been used as a tilting ground for jousting contests. Excavations have shown that it was developed later as an Elizabethan formal garden, but insufficient evidence has been found to enable accurate dating. Beyond this the estate comprises of approximately 600 acres of wood and parkland.

Gawsworth Hall has been owned by several important families throughout its history, but its most famous occupants were the Fitton family who held it in their procession from 1316, when Thomas Fitton inherited the estate on marrying Isabel de Orreby. During the 17th century the estate passed to the Gerard family, who were related to the Fittons but acquired the estate through a contested Will.

This situation caused an ongoing dispute between the Gerards and Fitton's which finally came to a head in 1712 when Lord Mohun (from the Gerard line) and 4th Duke of Hamilton (from the Fitton line) were both killed in a duel. As a result Gawsworth Hall remained with the Gerards until it was sold to William Stanhope who later became the first Earl of Harrington.

The house remained in the Stanhope family until 1935, when it was purchased by the Richards family, and whose home it remains to this day.

 

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