Peckforton Castle

Infobox Historic building
name = Peckforton Castle



caption = Peckforton Castle from the courtyard showing the hall and the round tower
map_type = Cheshire
latitude = 53.1175
longitude = -2.6990
location_town = Peckforton, Cheshire
location_country = England
architect = Anthony Salvin
client = John Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache
engineer =
construction_start_date = 1844
completion_date = 1850
date_demolished =
cost = £60,000
structural_system =
style = Norman
size =

Peckforton Castle is a country house built in the style of a medieval castle. It stands in woodland at the north end of Peckforton Hills convert|1|mi|km|0 northwest of the village of Peckforton, Cheshire, England (gbmapping|SJ533580). It is a Grade I listed building.cite web |url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=56862 |title=Images of England: Peckforton Castle|accessdate=2008-02-29 |publisher=English Heritage ] It was built in the middle of the 19th century as a family home for John Tollemache, 1st Baron Tollemache, a wealthy Cheshire landowner, estate manager and Member of Parliament. The Tollemache family continued to live in the house until 1939. In the 1980s it was unused, but it has since been converted into a hotel and a venue for weddings and functions.

Early history

Peckforton Castle was built between 1844 and 1850 for John Tollemache, the architect being Anthony Salvin,Durdey, 75] an eminent practitioner of Gothic Revival architecture. It cost £60,000. [Pevsner, 300] Although it was built as a family home and included the comforts expected by a Victorian family, its design was that of a castle of the time of Edward I. It had an impressive gatehouse, a portcullis, a dry moat, and external windows which were little more than arrow slots. Sir George Gilbert Scott called it "the very height of masquerading". [Quoted in Pevsner, 301] Not only did the design mimic that of a Norman castle, so did its position on the side of a steep ridge facing the genuinely ancient but ruinous Beeston Castle, which stands on an isolated outcrop of rock convert|0.75|mi|km|0 to the north. [Pevsner, 301]

Anthony Salvin was not Tollemache's first choice as architect. Tollemache first approached George Latham of Northwich, but he was not appointed, and was paid £2,000 in compensation. He turned instead to Salvin, who had a greater reputation and more experience, and who had already carried out work on the Tollemache moated manor house in Suffolk, Helmingham Hall. [Durdey, 81–82] The castle was built by Dean and Son of Leftwich with Joseph Cookson of Tarporley acting as clerk of works. Stone was obtained from a quarry about convert|1|mi|km|0 to the west of the site, and a railway was built to carry the stone. [Durdey, 83]

There has been debate about the motives for building a more-or-less complete Norman-style castle in the 19th century. Tollemache was at the time the largest landholder in Cheshire.Durdey, 77] In the opinion of William Gladstone he was the "greatest estate manager of his day". Tollemache believed in improving the social conditions of his tenants. [Durdey, 77–78] However, he was also perceived as "a man of considerable eccentricity". Dr Jill Allibone is of the opinion that he might have been protecting himself and his family from the potential political troubles of the decade that saw the Chartist Movement. In a defensive building he would be able to protect himself against any revolution by the masses from nearby Manchester or Liverpool. [Durdey, 76. This opinion was expressed in her doctoral thesis on Anthony Salvin, published in London in 1977.] [cite web | last = Anon. | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = The Master Builders | work = | publisher = Telegraph Media Group | date = 2001-03-17 | url = http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.jhtml?xml=/property/2001/03/17/tpgile17.xml | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-03-02] A possible practical reason for building such a solid residence rather than an Italianate-style villa was to provide shelter from the adverse weather conditions which could affect the Cheshire plain. [Durdey, 76–77] Durdey comes to the conclusion that the decisive factors were to use his "vast inheritance" to provide himself with a house that was "impressive, dominant and suitable for Cheshire's greatest landowner". It is regarded as "the last serious fortified home built in England". It was designed on a great scale with consummate skill, executed to the highest standards, and is considered to be one of the great buildings of its age.

Castle

External

The castle is faced with red sandstone, with lead, asphalt and tile roofs. It is mainly in three storeys with a five-storey tower. The buildings are arranged around a ward with the principal accommodation on the north side. It is surrounded by a dry moat which is bridged at the gatehouse. To the west of the inner ward are the stables, the coach house, a rectangular bell tower and the kitchens and service area. To the north is the great hall range which consists of 18 bays. Behind the entrance to the hall is the main tower which is circular in shape. At the east end of the gallery wing is the octagonal library tower. The outer walls of the castle have full-height slender turrets at the changes in direction. Corbel tables support part of the battlements. The walls contain arrow slots, and in the gatehouse is a garderobe. The flat roof has a crenellated parapet.

Internal

The porch leads into the great hall which has a Minton tile floor and a large stone chimney piece. In the east wing is the long gallery which has oak panelling, a chimney piece and a panelled ceiling. Behind the long gallery is an irregularly-shaped billiard room and the drawing room. To the south of these is the library. Behind the great hall is the main staircase. The circular tower at the north-west corner contains the octagonal dining room with a Minton tile floor, two fireplaces, and vault of eight radial ribs running to a central boss. The dining room contains an oak sideboard with carved green men. Below the dining room is a wine cellar. On the fifth floor of the circular tower is a room designed for playing rackets, which is approached by a stone spiral staircase.

Garden

The castle had no formal garden, but at the bottom of the drive were kitchen gardens which included vegetable gardens, an orchard, extensive glass houses and a large orangery. At one time, 17 gardeners were employed. [cite web |url=http://www.peckfortonhills.co.uk/public/control.php?_path=/137/165/171 |title=Peckforton Castle |accessdate=2008-03-01 |publisher= Peckforton Hills Local Heritage]

Chapel and entrance lodge

On the east side of the ward is the family's private chapel which is a Grade II* listed building. It was also designed by Salvin and is constructed of rock-faced sandstone with a tile roof. Its plan consists of a two-bay nave, a south aisle, a vestry, and a narrower and lower single-bay chancel. On the gable ends of the nave and chancel are stone cross finials. Over the chancel arch is a cruciform stone bellcote. Inside the chapel an arcade of three Gothic arches separates the south aisle from the nave. The reredos is made of oak and is inscribed with the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. The choirstalls and the benches in the nave are carved with poppyheads. The baptistry at the west end contains a carved stone font with a carved oak cover. Although it is described as a modest building, the chapel is considered to complete the ensemble of the castle. [cite web |url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=56863 |title=Images of England: Chapel in the Ward of Peckforton Castle |accessdate=2008-02-29 |publisher=English Heritage ]

The entrance lodge to the southeast of the castle is also listed Grade II*. It was designed by Salvin and is constructed in red brick and stone with a tile roof. It consists of an archway with a round turret behind and a two-storey lodge to the left. [cite web |url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?pid=1&id=56864 |title=Images of England: Entrance Lodge |accessdate=2008-02-29 |publisher=English Heritage ]

Recent history and present use

Before moving into the castle in the 1890s, Wilbraham Tollemache, 2nd Baron Tollemache added central heating and electric light. In 1922 a large scheme of afforestation was started on the Peckforton Hills. [Durdey, 86] The resulting woodland has been granted the status of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.cite web |url=http://www.peckfortoncastle.co.uk/index.php?/the_castle_experience/history/ |title= History |accessdate=2008-02-29 |publisher=Peckforton Castle ] The Tollemache family continued to use the house until 1939. The last resident was Bentley Lyonel John Tollemache, 3rd Baron Tollemache, who left the house to live in Eastbourne. During the Second World War the castle was used as a hostel for physically handicapped children who had been evacuated from the London area. The Tollemache family used the castle for occasional gatherings, but otherwise it was unused until 1969. From 1969 to 1980 a new saga emerged for the castle; leased by Lord John Tollemache to Mr. George W. Barrett, it again became a private residence and closed to the public. The right wing and tower and the castle gardens were restored to their former glory by Mr. Barrett, an American and high ranking civil servant employed by the U.S. Government. His family include his Spouse, Monique, and Children: Pascale, George. W. (III), Shawn, Marc and Sheila. Ms. Pascale Barrett's wedding with over 500 guests was the first to be held in the chapel and a special decree had to be obtained by the Archbishop of Canterbury to legally hold catholic weddings in the grounds of the castle.This initiative by Mr. Barrett gave an impulse for the castle to be used in the future as a luxurious wedding location.fact|date=March 2008

In the 1970s and 1980s the castle was used as a location for shooting films and television programmes. These included the "Doctor Who" serial "The Time Warrior", broadcast in 1973–1974. In 1982 the original "Treasure Trap" live action role-playing game took place on the site. In 1989 the castle was purchased by an American Mrs E. Graybill who renovated most of the existing building and then secured planning permission to convert the premises to a hotel. She gained a license to undertake civil weddings. In June 2006, after holding his son's wedding,fact|date=March 2008 Mr. Naylor and the Naylor family bought the property and refurbished it beautifully to continue the established business and fully develop it back to its splendor. It now is used as a luxury hotel and a venue for corporate events and weddings. [cite web |url=http://www.peckfortoncastle.co.uk/index.php?/the_castle_experience/accommodation/#paexperience |title= Accommodation |accessdate=2008-02-29 |publisher= Peckforton Castle]

References

Notes

Bibliography

*cite book | last =Pevsner | first =Nikolaus | authorlink =Nikolaus Pevsner | coauthors =Edward Hubbard | title =The Buildings of England: Cheshire |edition= | publisher =Yale University Press| date =2003| origyear=1971| location =New Haven| pages =300–302 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn =0 300 09588 0
*cite journal | quotes = | last =Durdey | first =Ronald | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | year =2007–2008 | month = | title =John Tollemache and his Castle | journal =Cheshire History | volume = 47| issue = | pages =75–87 | issn =0141-8696 | pmid = | doi = | id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

Further reading

*cite book | last =Allibone | first =Jill | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Anthony Salvin: Pioneer of Gothic Revival Architecture |edition= | publisher = Lutterworth Press| date =1988| location =Cambridge | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn =9780718827076


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