A tale of loyalty rewarded for man and dog. The land now occupied by Lyme Park was granted to Piers Legh and his wife Margaret D'anyers, by letters patent dated January 4, 1398, by Richard II, son of the Black Prince. Margaret D'anyers' grandfather, Sir Thomas D'anyers, had taken part in retrieving the standard of the Black Prince at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, and was rewarded with an annuity of 40 marks a year by the Black Prince, drawn on his Cheshire estate, and which could be exchanged for land of that value belonging to the Black Prince. Sir Thomas died in 1354, and the annuity passed to his nearest surviving kin, his granddaughter Margaret, who in 1388 married the first Piers Legh (Piers Legh I). Richard II favoured Piers and granted his family a coat of arms in 1397, and the estate of Lyme Handley in 1398 redeeming the annuity. However, Piers was executed two years later by Richard's rival for the throne, Henry Bolingbroke. When in 1415 Sir Piers Legh II was wounded in the Battle of Agincourt, his mastiff stood over and protected him for many hours through the battle. The mastiff was later returned to Legh's home and was the foundation of the Lyme Hall Mastiffs. They were bred at the hall and kept separate from other strains, figuring prominently in founding the modern breed. The strain died out around the beginning of the 20th century.
The first record of a house on the site is in a manuscript folio dated 1465, but that house was demolished when construction of the present building began during the life of Piers Legh VII, in the middle of the 16th century. This house, by an unknown designer, was L-shaped in plan with east and north ranges; piecemeal additions were made to it during the 17th century. In the 1720s Giacomo Leoni, an architect from Venice, added a south range to the house creating a courtyard plan, and made other changes. While he retained some of its Elizabethan features, many of his changes were in a mixture of Palladian and Baroque styles. During the latter part of the 18th century Piers Legh XIII bought most of the furniture which is in the house today. However, the family fortunes declined and the house began to deteriorate. In the early 19th century the estate was owned by Thomas Legh, who commissioned Lewis Wyatt to restore the house between 1816 and 1822. Wyatt's alterations were mainly to the interior, where he remodelled every room. Leoni had intended to add a cupola to the south range but this never materialised. Instead, Wyatt added a tower-like structure (a hamper) to provide bedrooms for the servants. He also added a one-storey block to the east range, containing a dining-room. Later in the century William Legh, 1st Baron Newton, added stables and other buildings to the estate, and created the Dutch Garden. Further alterations were made to the gardens by Thomas Legh, 2nd Baron Newton and his wife during the early 20th century
The house is the largest in Cheshire, measuring overall 190 feet (58 m) by 130 feet (40 m) round a courtyard plan. The older part is built in coursed, squared buff sandstone rubble with sandstone dressings; the later work is in ashlar sandstone. The whole house has a roof of Welsh slates. To the west of the house is the former mill pond. From the south side a lawn slopes down to another pond beyond which is a small ravine with a stone bridge, this area being known as Killtime. To the west of the lawn is the sunken Dutch Garden, which was created by William Legh. It consists of formal flower beds with a central fountain. To the west, south and east of the orangery are further formal flower gardens, including rose gardens. There is a tower called the Cage which stands on a hill to the east of the approach road to the house. It was originally a hunting lodge and was later used as a park-keeper's cottage and as a lock-up for prisoners. The first structure on the site was built about 1580; this was taken down and rebuilt in 1737, possibly to a design by Leoni for Peter Legh X. The level entrance is from the house courtyard. A limited number of wheelchairs are available to borrow in the courtyard entrance, please ask. Your own powered or hand operated wheel chair can be used in the exhibition. Assistance dogs welcome. The Garden: The accessible level entrance is through the Orangery car park. Accessible garden guides are available at this point and from the main garden entry point in the courtyard,where a limited number of wheel chairs are also available. Accessible toilets can be found in 3 locations at Lyme: the House, Garden and Timber Yard. Guides are available in large print and Braille. Virtual tours are to be introduced in summer 2016 using hand held tablet devices.
Location : Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR
Transport: Disley (National Rail) 1/2 mile. Bus routes Skyline 199, 199 and 360 stop on the A6.
Opening Times: Friday to Tuesday 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Adults £9.90 Children £5.00
Garden Only: Adults £6.30 Children £3.15
House Only: Adults £7.20 Children £3.60
Tel: 01663 762023