Dunham Massey, anchored by the splendid Jacobean hall, the entire village is a fascinating step back in time to an area and era that the industrial revolution bypassed. The Roman road between Chester and York passing between the Dunham Massey and Bowdon forms the boundary between the two. The name Dunham is derived from the Anglo-Saxon dun, meaning hill. The Massey element of the name is a result of its ownership by the Massey family. The manor of Dunham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having belonged to Aelfward, a Saxon thegn, before the Norman Conquest and to Hamo de Masci afterwards. The Barons de Masci also had control over the manors of Baguley, Bowdon, Hale, Partington, and Timperley. The suffix of "Massey" to the name Dunham reflects the manor's importance; Dunham was the seat of the Masseys. The importance of Dunham is further exemplified by the former existence of two de Massey castles: Dunham Castle and Watch Hill Castle on the border with Bowdon; a third, Ullerwood Castle, was near Hale. The Masseys remained lords of Dunham and its environs until the 14th century, when the family's male line became extinct. The Booth family inherited most of the Massey family land in 1409, with Dunham Massey remaining at the heart of the estate. By the Elizabeth period, Dunham Massey Castle had been demolished. Probably during the medieval period, Dunham Massey Hall became the home of the manorial lord, and a centre of power in the area. The hall was rebuilt in 1616, leaving no remains of the old medieval manor house. A mill at Dunham was documented in 1353, although the its present structure dates to the 1860s. It lies on the River Bollin, opposite Little Bollington. The first record of Dunham's deer park was also in 1353. The settlement at Dunham Woodhouse (named after an outlying lodge on the estate) dates from the 15th century. During the medieval period, the primary source of employment was agriculture, mainly arable farming.
The present hall was built in 1616 by Sir George Booth, who received one of the first baronetcies to be created by James I in 1611; it was remodelled by John Norris for his descendant, George, 2nd Earl of Warrington between 1732 and 1740; it was further altered by John Hope towards the end of the 18th century and again by Joseph Compton Hall between 1905 and 1908. The hall, stables, and the carriage house of Dunham Massey are all Grade I listed buildings, three of six such buildings in Trafford. The site is moated and lies immediately west of the village of Dunham, with its deer park to the south. The hall was donated to the National Trust by Roger Grey, 10th and last Earl of Stamford in 1976. The hall was used as a military hospital during the First World War. Inside is a significant collection of Huguenot silver, the carving The Crucifixion by 17th-century wood carver Grinling Gibbons, and a white marble bust of the Emperor Hadrian; the head is antique, but the neck and shoulders are 18th-century; it was probably acquired by the George, Earl of Stamford and Warrington. The hall's collection of paintings include Allegory with Venus, Mars, Cupid and Time by Guercino; The Cascade at Terni by Louis Ducros; and portraits by William Beechey, Francis Cotes, Michael Dahl, A. R. Mengs, Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Enoch Seeman, and Zoffany.
Brookheys Covert is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Dunham Park Estate. The site is a semi-natural wood consisting mainly of ash, birch, and rowan, with a wetland habitat and several marl pits, which have flooded to form ponds. Brookheys Covert provides a habitat for many animals, including foxes, rabbits, squirrels, and 57 species of bird. Dunham Park is mostly “pasture-woodland or park-woodland” and has been since the Middle Ages. Many of the oak trees, which make up the larger part of the woodland, date back to the 17th century. Dunham Park is the only place in the northwest of England with such a concentration of old trees, and one of only a few remaining in England, making it a site of national importance. The park supports a range of animals, including fallow deer and over 500 species of insect. There are many listed residences in Dunham Massey, most dating from the 18th or early-19th century, and many feature Flemish bond brickwork and slate roofs. They include: Dunham Massey Lodge, on Dunham Road; Willow Cottage; numbers 1 and 2 Barns Lane; number 1 Orchard View; The Hollies, on Station Road; numbers 1, 3 and 4 Woodhouse Lane; Big Tree Cottages, on Woodhouse Lane. Agden View, also on Woodhouse Lane, dates from 1725 and has both garden wall bond and Flemish bond brickwork. Big Tree House, on Charcoal Road, dates from the mid-18th century and features English bond brickwork. Yew Tree Cottage and Lime Tree Cottage are also on Charcoal Lane; both houses date to the 17th century and exhibit garden wall bond brickwork with slate roofs. Ivy House, on Woodhouse Lane, was built in the early 18th century. Kitchen Garden cottage was built in 1702. Rose Cottage and Farm Cottage are late-18th- or early-19th-century. The Meadows, on School Lane, was built in the 17th century and features garden wall bond brickwork and a thatched roof.
The farm buildings of Home Farm, including its dovecote, were built in the early-19th century, and feature Flemish bond brickwork. Sinderland House, also dating from the early-19th century, is another of Dunham Massey's listed farmhouses. Manor Farmhouse, on Station Road, was built by George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington; the building dates from the mid-18th century and features both Flemish and garden wall bond brickwork. The farmhouse on Station Road was built in 1752. The barn on Woodhouse Lane dates from the early 18th century and features garden wall bond brickwork, a slate roof, and upper cruck frames. Dog Farmhouse, also on Woodhouse Lane, was built in the early 19th century; however it may have been an adaptation of an earlier, possibly 18th-century, farmhouse. Dunham School was built in 1759, with additions in 1860 and the 20th century. Above the door is an engraved panel reading "This School was Erected in 1759 For the Benefit of the Township of Dunham Massey. According to the Will of Thomas Walton Gent". The school is now used as the parish hall. Bollington watermill, constructed in the 1860s, has an undershot waterwheel. There are a number of listed structures in the grounds of Dunham Massey Hall, including the 1720 wellhouse that supplied water to the hall until the 1860s, and the early-18th-century ornamental sundial in front of the hall, depicting a black slave clad in leaves, carrying the sundial above his head. The stable buildings, the slaughterhouse, the deer house, the orangery, and an ashlar shelter to the west of the hall, all date from the 17th or 18th century. Barn Cottages date from at least 1751. PMVs available on free hire, booking required. Adapted toilets near visitor reception. Accessible grounds, flat paths with firm surfaces. Cobbled area which can be avoided, map available. Access to the house/hospital is limited.
Location : Woodhouse Lane, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ.
Transport: Altrincham (National Rail). Bus route 5 (Altricham to Warrington) stops outside.
Opening Times: From 29th Feb. Saturday to Wednesday 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Adults £12.50 Children £6.20.
Garden Only: Adults £8.00 Children £4.00.
Tel: 0161 941 1025