Tag Archives: Macclesfield


Like many country houses Adlington had a purpose during wartime. However, the cost of upkeep meant it had to open its doors to the public afterwards.

The oldest part of the Adlington Hall was constructed between 1480 and 1505, the east wing added in 1581. The hall was reconstructed and reduced in size in 1928. The work included demolition of much of the west wing and was completed under the supervision of architect Hubert Worthington.

In August 1942, Adlington Hall the historic home of the Leghs, had been in the possession of the family since 1352, when they first acquired it in the reign of Edward III.

The then-chatelaine, Mrs Cynthia Combermere Legh (1896-1983)  , had turned a large part of the house into a maternity hospital for the wives of servicemen of all ranks, with a staff of skilled nurses and all the modern equipment. It was opened by St. Mary’s Hospitals, Manchester, under the title of ‘St. Mary’s Services Maternity Hospital’.

Wonderful oak-panelled rooms had become wards and nurseries, and inmates of the hospital were able to sit in the Great Hall, where stood the organ on which Handel, when a guest at Adlington, played and composed his music.

Mrs Cynthia Combermere Legh (1896-1983) seen in August 1942. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The Hall stood on a site that in Saxon times was used as a hunting lodge. After the Norman Conquest it passed to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and nephew of William the Conqueror.

In the thirteenth century it was granted to the Norman family of De Corona, and it was from their union with the De Leghs of Booth that its occupants were descended.

Successive generations of De Leghs carried out additions and alterations at Adlington, but the Hall still retained its ancient splendour. It was quadrangular in shape, and was in early times surrounded by a moat. The Great Hall was built between 1450 and 1505, and there were additions in typical black-and-white half-timbered Cheshire style, in 1581. Of this, the north-east corner and the east wing still stood, but the remainder had undergone rebuilding. The north front was added about 1600 and was built of dark-red brick; the west wing was rebuilt in 1749 and the south front – in Georgian style – in 1757.

August 1942. Georgian columns facing south make an imposing background for one of the white ambulances used by the maternity hospital at Adlington Hall, Cheshire. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
August 1942. A new arrival at the maternity hospital at Adlington Hall is welcomed by members of staff as she steps from the ambulance. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
August 1942. Seeing off a patient from the Elizabethan courtyard on the eastern side of Adlington Hall. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

All over England, Scotland and Wales, and for the most part for the same reason (the necessity of providing for upkeep), great mansions were being opened up to the public after the Second World War, and the public was flocking to these places, drawn in part by the rich treasures displayed, and in part perhaps by a natural curiosity to see the background of life as it was lived in the spacious days of privilege.

In April 1950, Adlington Hall became the latest to open its doors. The house is still privately owned by the Legh family and is open to the public for guided tours at advertised times.

April 1950. A Georgian front masked one of the finest half-timbered residences in the north country. This south front was added to Adlington Hall, near Macclesfield, in 1757. Behind it can be glimpsed the celebrated black-and-white hall which ranked with Baguley, Bramhall and Little Moreton among the masterpieces of this kind in Cheshire. Adlington Hall, for centuries the home of the Leghs, was being opened to the public during weekends and Bank Holidays. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. The quadrangle at Adlington, with the unique Cheshire-style, black-and-white timbering. The inscription on the door recorded that this part of the building was completed in 1581 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth by ‘Thomas Leghe Esquyer who married Sybbel daughter to Urian Brereton, of Handforde Knighte.’ The inscription also mentioned that they had four sons and five daughters. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. An example of elaborate decoration on the Great Hall at Adlington. Demi-angels bearing shields are placed at the terminals of the beams in the large hammer-beam roof. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. Another example of elaborate decoration on the Great Hall at Adlington. This canopied tester was over the high table in the Great Hall. It was divided into sixty panels depicting the arms of various gentlemen of Cheshire. The alliances of the family of Legh of Adlington are set forth in the lower two rows, with the shield of Legh in the centre. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. A corner of the Great Hall at Adlington. The hall was the centre from which the whole mansion had grown. It belonged to a period when the Great Hall had reached its apogee, said Fred H. Crossley in his history of Cheshire, and before its decline began to be apparent. It was said to be larger and richer and finer even than the Great Hall at Rufford, in neighbouring Lancashire. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. The organ in the Great Hall at Adlington. Installed under the supervision of Handel during 1740-1750. Two oak trees supported this east of the hall, standing on each side of the organ, and these were all that remained of the original hunting lodge, in Macclesfield Forest. The trees had their roots in the ground and the upper trunks carved. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. One of the two oak trees still with their roots in the ground, which supported the east end of the hall. Of all the features of Adlington this was perhaps the best known and attracted the attention of visitors. The trees dated from Saxon times. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
April 1950. The Dining-Room in the Georgian west wing of Adlington. This was eighteenth-century elegance; but the massive sideboard struck a somewhat incongruous note amid pleasing simplicity. Both the south front and the west wing belonged to the Georgian period. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

While staying at Adlington Hall, Handel was inspired to write the Harmonious Blacksmith by hearing the notes from the anvil of the little wayside smithy near the hall.