Monday, 9 July 2012

An English country estate

On what, for once, turned out to be a gloriously warm sunny day I (DB decided to stay in the garden) took myself off to visit Doddington Hall on the Cheshire/Staffordshire borders.  
Doddington Hall is a privately owned historic country estate, home to the Delves Broughton family for over 650 years with an interesting history.
Sir John De Delves purchased the manor of Doddington in 1352 and later fought with the Black Prince (the son of King Edward III) as one of four squires with Lord Audley at the battle of Poitiers in September 1356.
Described as a ‘Goodly Mansion’ when it was built in 1364 the sandstone tower is the only thing that remains of the original Elizabethan Doddington Hall, which was surrounded by formal gardens and a deer park. 
Sandstone statues of the four squires stand at the bottom of the tower, but I have no idea which one is Delves of Doddington.

Garrisoned by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War the original Doddington Hall was demolished in 1762 leaving only the sandstone tower.

The new hall built between 1777 and 1798 was constructed to the designs of Samuel Wyatt and later landscaped by Capability Brown.   

Access to the house is through the door under the curving stone steps, which leads to the ground floor and I assume was once the servants’ entrance.

Iron railings follow the curve of the stone stairs to the main doors and through into the entrance hall

From the entrance hall, double doors unique to Doddington Hall and one other house which I believe is somewhere in the USA lead into different rooms, including the circular saloon below.

The double doors are somehow engineered so that when one door is opened the other opens automatically, which must’ve been very handy for the servants.

A new, narrow flight of wooden stairs takes you out onto the roof which was one of the renovations partially funded by English Heritage.

Another view of the house showing the circular saloon from the outside.

One side of the stables.

Now silent horse boxes.

In the undergrowth just outside the stables is a bear cage where Sir Henry Delves Broughton (Jock of ‘White Mischief’ fame) kept 3 Himalayan bears he used to take out for walks around the grounds. 

During WWII French sailors camped at Doddington and Polish refugees camped there until 1960. 

In 1943 Doddington became a Ministry of Defence camp, the family left the hall when it was requisitioned by General Dwight Eisenhower and became the European Headquarters for the American Army. 

After WWII a girls school occupied the building until the mid-1980’s since then the hall has been unoccupied.

I enjoyed my visit to Doddington, the hall is a lovely building, very Pride and Prejudice, I almost expected to bump into Mr Darcy!

Have fun, we are!

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