Hare Hill Hall is a country house and a garden in the parish of Over Alderley, Cheshire, England. The house and grounds are privately owned, and the separate nearby garden is in the care of the National Trust.
The house was built in about 1800 for William Hibbert of Birtles Hall. It was extended and remodelled in the middle of the 19th century for the Brocklehurst family. The house is constructed in red brick and has Welsh slate roofs. The architectural style is Georgian. It has two storeys, and the east front has three bays. Along the whole of the east front, and extending to the south front, is a continuous verandah carried on cast iron Chinoiserie supports. It is decorated with a frieze and has a tented glass roof. The house is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.
The National Trust wooded garden contains over 70 varieties of rhododendron, plus azaleas, hollies, and hostas. At its centre is a walled garden containing a pergola and wire sculptures. A permissive path leads from the garden to the ridge of Alderley Edge. The garden is open to the public at advertised times; there is an admission charge.
The garden was owned by Col. Charles Brocklehurst until his death in 1981. Col. Brocklehurst was advised by the plantsman, James Russell. The Georgian mansion was sold by the Trust in 1978 to help finance the running of the gardens. The owner of the garden was a great rhododendron enthusiast and steadily introduced them into the garden from 1960 onwards. The climate and soil has allowed them to flourish here.
The Trust has replaced many of the common purple variety with more colourful and exotic varieties and has extended the season for visiting the garden by planting roses, lacecaps, euchryphia and hydrangeas, although the early interest is already sustained by snowdrops, daffodils, a huge clematis Montana, Skunk Cabbage and magnolia. The walled garden with its numerous climbers features a large lawn sadly without a centrepiece. The main feature of the garden however is the collection of over 50 hollies, silver and golden leaved and yellow and orange berried varieties, including the rare Highclere holly.
In the late 18th century, William Hibbert purchased Hare Hill, a country estate in Cheshire, and built a small hunting lodge.
To create a grand setting for his new home - and no doubt to impress his visitors from London - he landscaped the park, and built an ornamental lake. Hibbert eventually moved to London, where he died in 1844. Around this time, the Brocklehurst family bought the Hare Hill estate, and embarked on a major extension to the lodge, which became Hare Hill Hall. They also decided to create a woodland garden, with a traditional Victorian walled kitchen garden at the centre, which was completed around 1902.
In 1905, the last owner of Hare Hill – Colonel Charles Brocklehurst – was born, along with his twin brother Patrick. Charles divided his time between Cheshire and his house in London, where he pursued his interest in fine china and art collections. He was also an army infantry officer in World War Two; it’s presumed both brothers were keen horsemen, as Patrick was tragically killed in a riding accident in 1930.
Charles’ parents died in the 1960s, and he returned to his inherited home, Hare Hill. He had developed a keen interest in horticulture, and through his influential circle of friends in London he had made contact with plantsman James Russell. Together they planned to improve and restore the overgrown and neglected garden at Hare Hill. With the help of gardener Mr. Hatch, they embarked on major clearance and planting of species shrubs and trees, including many varieties of rhododendron, holly and azalea.
Oddly, there was no work on the dilapidated walled garden until the final years of Charles’ life; a letter from Russell dating from 1975 states “The wall garden itself… and here there are 23 panels to be filled along the walls … you wanted pairs of plants, and all-white flowered.” To complement his white borders, and in memory of his brother, Charles commissioned the two impressive equestrian sculptures by Christopher Hobbs that grace the walled garden today.
Charles never married, and having no heirs, decided to leave the entire Hare Hill estate to the National Trust on his death in 1977. In accordance with his wishes the house was sold, and is now privately owned. The National Trust developed the garden in sympathy with Charles Brocklehurst’s plans: planting more species rhododendrons in the woodland, commissioning the elegant metal pergola in the walled garden, and underplanting the equestrian sculptures with delicate pale pink shrub roses. In recent years, many of the original rhododendrons have been decimated by disease caused by Phytophthora , and those along with some of the most vigorous rhododendron Ponticum have been removed. Today, work to interpret Charles Brocklehurst's original vision continues in the walled garden, the woodland and the park.
* The permissive footpath to Alderley Edge *
After a stroll round Hare Hill garden, try a more challenging walk across working farmland and through the woods to Alderley Edge. The two mile footpath to Alderley Edge, through beautiful rolling Cheshire countryside and woodland, offers an opportunity to see the historic landscape that surrounds Hare Hill.
The NT Rangers and volunteers work hard to conserve this area, which is dotted with Victorian culverts and historic hedgerows, and features an ornamental lake. The walk is popular with many visitors - so much so that they need to manage the times when it can be accessed. Overuse from being open all year round has brought about erosion of the landscape and a reduction in wildlife, which they are now trying to address.
It is a permissive path, rather than a public right of way, which means the landowners and the tenant farmer can decide to restrict access when necessary. Although well-behaved dogs on leads are welcomed, there are certain times of year, particularly in late Spring when the cows are calving, when they may need to close the footpath for a few weeks for the protection of the livestock. When the footpath is open, please note the following points to keep you, your dogs and the livestock safe:
There are no longer maps of the route - instead, follow their well placed red and green waymarks and you can't get lost! At certain times it can be wet and muddy, so wear suitable footwear. Please stay on the waymarked paths.
* Visiting *
The National Trust want to make sure everyone enjoys their visit to Hare Hill, no matter how much time they spend here. Your first stop will be at the Visitor Information kiosk, where you will receive a warm welcome from one of their friendly volunteers. Please note: the kiosk is cash only as they do not yet have the facility to take cards.
Make your way to the Garden Hub, where you can visit the Information Room, browse their second-hand bookshop, and learn all about the pond dredging project. Take a peek inside the greenhouse to see what's growing, check out the plants for sale, and at weekends and bank holidays, enjoy a range of refreshments from the pop-up coffee shop.
Their glorious walled garden is the ideal place to relax. Take a leisurely stroll around their new white borders, and enjoy the many varieties of plants and fragrances. Take a seat on one of the benches, enjoy a book and listen to the birdsong, Or bring a rug and a picnic and while away the afternoon.
For families, try following the famous hare trail around the woodland pathways – the kids won’t want to leave until they’ve found all thirteen! Carved by local artist Ed Pilkington, each wooden hare statue has its own distinct personality. Don’t forget to walk up to the pond at North Park view, to admire the spectacular parkland scenery.
Plant lovers will want to explore every corner of the garden. There’s plenty to admire in Colonel Brocklehurst’s pride and joy – from rare and exotic rhododendrons and azaleas, to more recent additions such as unusual foxgloves, bulbs and of course the perennial borders in the walled garden. Bird watchers can head for the bird hide – and don’t worry if you’ve left your binoculars behind, they have some available to borrow at the kiosk.
For the comfort and safety of all visitors, no ball games, bicycles or scooters are permitted in the garden. Dogs are not allowed anywhere in the garden, apart from assistance dogs.
Dogs are not permitted anywhere in Hare Hill garden (except assistance dogs).
If you are not visiting the garden, car parking is £8.00 per car for non-members. The car park charge is refunded on entry to the garden.
Location : Hare Hill, Over Alderley, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4PY
Transport: Alderley Edge or Prestbury (National Rail) 2.5 miles. Bus routes: None.
Opening Times: Daily, 10:30 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £8.00; Children £4.00.