Cholmondeley Castle

Coordinates: 53°03′26″N 2°41′36″W / 53.0572°N 2.6932°W / 53.0572; -2.6932

Cholmondeley Castle
Cholmondeley Castle
OS grid reference: SJ 536 513
Built: 1801–04
Built for: George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley
Restored: 1817–19
Restored by: Robert Smirke
Architect: William Turner
Listed Building – Grade II*
Designated: 10 June 1952
Reference #: 1135794
Cholmondeley Castle is located in Cheshire
Location in Cheshire

Cholmondeley Castle (English pronunciation: /ˈtʃʌmlɪ/, chum-lee) is a country house in the civil parish of Cholmondeley, Cheshire, England. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.[1] It is surrounded by a 7,500 acres (30 km2) estate.[2]



The present house was built between 1801 and 1804 by George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley.[3] It was designed by the local architect William Turner who was directed by the Marquess to give it the appearance of "an old Gothic Castle".[4] In 1817–1819 turrets and towers were added to give it its present castlelike appearance.[1] An earlier house had been on the site dating from 1571. This was constructed of brick and timber framing and had been remodelled by Sir John Vanbrugh between 1713 and 1715.[3]

Gardens and grounds

In the 18th century Hugh Cholmondeley, 1st Earl of Cholmondeley had created gardens around the house, both kitchen gardens and orchards to provide food for the household, and also pleasure gardens. The pleasure gardens would have been formal in style as they were laid out by George London. The ironworker Jean Tijou produced an iron entrance gate to the gardens, but this was moved to Houghton Hall in Norfolk by the 4th Earl. John van Nost designed a fountain for the garden. The garden also contained a bowling green and an aviary. The 4th Earl brought in William Emes to redesign the garden who, according to the fashion of the day, buried London's work under a landscape park. The 4th Earl also employed John Webb, a student of Emes, who probably designed the terrace around the house. Around this time the Temple Garden was created for the Earl's first daughter, later Lady Charlotte Seymour. During the 20th century, the 6th Marquess and his wife played a large part in restoring and developing the gardens.[4]

The 6th marquis died at Cholmondeley Castle in 1990.[5] Lavinia, the Dowager Marchioness of Cholmondeley, aged 92, lives in Cholmondeley Castle.[6]

Second World War

Cholmondley Castle gardens served as the first camp for the Free Czechoslovak forces in exile during 7th July to mid October 1940, about 4,000 Czechoslovak troops camped at the nearby park. Most had come by ship from France, but they were joined by about 300 troops already in England. The Czechoslovak government-in-exile formed two infantry battalions and many men were assigned to the Royal Air Force. Some 500 men who refused to accept the authority of President Beneš, were expelled from the Czechoslovak forces and were assigned to the British Pioneer Corps. On 28th September 1940 a party was held for local people on St Vaclav (St Wenceslas) Day when a stone was erected that still stands in the grounds of the house. Some men died whilst stationed at Cholmondeley and were buried with Czechoslovak military stones in nearby graveyards in Cheshire and Shropshire.

Around mid October of 1940, the camp moved to Warwickshire where the Czechoslovak Army took up locations in and around Leamington Spa.

To this day, the local Czechoslovak community gather for an annual memorial service on the first Sunday in July. In July 1990, the then recent fall of communism, allowed a great gathering when Czechoslovak and British veterans gathered at Cholmondeley for the 50th anniversary of their arrival in England. At this time a memorial stone was also unveiled in Chester Cathedral to thank the people of Cheshire for their hospitality.[7]

Another wartime role of Cholmondeley Castle was as a Royal Navy Auxiliary Hospital, treating cases of good morale, who were suffering from nervous breakdown usually as the result of combat stresses.[8]

Present day

The grounds of the castle now cover some 5,000 acres (20 km2) and include two lakes.[3] They are included in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England at Grade II.[9][10] Also in the grounds is the ancient chapel of St Nicholas. The grounds and chapel are open to the public at advertised times but the castle is not open to the public.[11] It has recently become a hovercraft race track and will be holding the fourth round of the national hovercraft championship on the 17th and 18th of July 2010.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Cholmondeley Castle", The National Heritage List for England (English Heritage), 2011,, retrieved 1 May 2011 
  2. ^ Caroline, Donald. "The new garden at Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn, Norfolk," The Times (UK). May 11, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Thornber, Craig (2005), Cholmondeley Castle Gardens,, retrieved 31 August 2007 
  4. ^ a b Groves, Linden (2004), Historic Parks & Gardens of Cheshire, Ashbourne: Landmark, pp. 18–29, ISBN 1-84306-124-4 
  5. ^ Midgley, Carol. "The Cholmondeley people," The Times (UK). July 5, 2003.
  6. ^ Lacy, Stephen. "Unforgettable fire," The Telegraph (UK). December 31, 2001; excerpt, "The dramatic gardens at Cholmondeley Castle have been her special project for half a century, but Lady Cholmondeley's passion for hands-on horticulture is showing no sign of waning;" Lagonda Club, 5–9 June 2011; excerpt, "An Invitation from Lavinia, Dowager Marchioness of Cholmondeley to a private early afternoon tea ...."
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Parks & Gardens UK: Cholmondeley Castle, Parks & Gardens Data Services,,com_parksandgardens/task,site/id,799/tab,description/Itemid,292/, retrieved 27 January 2010 
  10. ^ "Cholmondeley Castle", The National Heritage List for England (English Heritage), 2011,, retrieved 1 May 2011 
  11. ^ Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, About Britain,, retrieved 31 August 2007 

External links

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