Arley Hall featured recently in the BBC's religious programme Songs of Praise. It's illustrious owner, Lord Ashbrook was seen discussing with the programme's presenter Pam Rhodes, how he felt his Victorian ancestors would have treated their staff on "Mothering Sunday" the fourth Sunday in lent. Viscount Ashbrook felt sure that many of the staff would have been given the day off in order to celebrate this very special day with their mother and other family members.
The Hall has been the seat of the well known Warburton family since the reign of Henry VIII, with the present house being built by Viscount Ashbrook's great-grandfather between 1832 and 1845. The Early-Victorian "Jacobean" house was built to the design of architect George Latham of Nantwich, it stands adjacent to a large chapel built in the Decorated-Gothic style in 1845 by noted Anthony Salvin. The Victorian property replaces an earlier house of the 18th-century.
The service wing of Arley Hall was demolished during the 20th-century, at the same time as the original dining room was demolished in 1968. So the house that we see today is vastly different to what it was in Victorian times. What is immediately apparent upon entering Arley Hall is its happy "lived in" feel. This is due to the fact that the family still live at the Hall, thus it is a joy to explore.
Despite parts being "lost" forever, Arley Hall remains important as the very epitome of the home of an English country squire, retaining many beautiful original features.
The gatehouse through which you enter the grounds is sided by a row of buildings, amongst these is a 15th-century cruck-framed barn. On arrival at the main house visitors enter through the West Hall, this now acts as the formal dining room. The Victorian library can also be seen in this part of the house.
The attractive drawing room has a superb barrel-vaulted ceiling with lavish drapes and comfortable furnishing. Throughout the house visitors can see superb examples of Victorian craftsmanship, particularly the wood and plaster decoration. Walk up the splendid staircase to the upper floor, and here you will see a series of tastefully furnished bedrooms with splendid views from each window. Napoleon III is known to have stayed at the house for a time, his bedroom is preserved, its walls are covered with watercolours by Piers Edgerton-Warburton.
Amongst the treasures of the house are paintings by noted artists, these include works by Romney, Beechey and Hoppner, as well as important family portraits from the 16th-century. There is also fine porcelain and other artefacts.
Arguably, Arley Hall's finest feature is without doubt its lovely landscape with its 12 acre garden. Originally these were laid out by Rowland Edgerton-Warburton in the 1830's and 40's, but the stylish arrangement of the gardens visitors see today is largely due to the efforts of Lady Warburton, the present owners mother.
Visitors can wander at will in a garden that is at once both artistic and intimate. It is full of variety and colour to match every season of the year. The magnificent herbaceous borders are a legacy of the 19th-century, these have been interspersed with yew hedges and yews. There are lovely romantic walled gardens, gorgeous roses, a pleached lime avenue, topiary, unique ilex columns, rhododendrons and azaleas. There is also an enchanting rock garden and a Tea Garden cottage.
It comes as no surprise that these award winning gardens were recently voted into the top 50 gardens to see in England. Its two day gardening event in June attracts gardeners from all over, and other events at Arley Hall include - Musical concerts, a Spring plant fair, a Bluebell walk in May, an Autumn fair when the gardens are full of vibrant red's and gold's, and antique and craft fairs.
There is a Gift Shop, a Restaurant in an atmospheric Tudor Barn, tours of the Hall and Gardens may be arranged, and the Hall may be hired for corporate events and weddings. Otherwise, Arley Hall is open to the public on Tuesdays and Sundays only.
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