Tatton Park is an historic estate in Cheshire, England, to the north of the town of Knutsford. It contains a mansion, Tatton Hall, a manor house dating from medieval times, Tatton Old Hall, gardens, a farm and a deer park of 2,000 acres (8.1 km2). It is a popular visitor attraction and hosts over 100 events annually. The estate is owned by the National Trust, who administer it jointly with Cheshire East Council. Since 1999 it hosts North West England's annual Royal Horticultural Flower show.
There is evidence of human habitation in the area of the estate going back to the Iron Age. In medieval times the village of Tatton was on the site. This has since disappeared but the area of the village and its roadways are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. By the end of the 15th century the estate was owned by the Stanley family who built and occupied the Old Hall. By the 1580s this building had been enlarged and it was owned by the Brereton family.
In 1598 the estate was bought by Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Chancellor of England. Sir Thomas and his children rarely visited the estate and it was loaned to tenants. At the end of the 17th century the estate was owned by John Egerton, Sir Thomas' grandson, who built a new house on the site of the present mansion, some 0.75 miles (1 km) to the west of the Old Hall.
This mansion, Tatton Hall, was extensively altered and extended between 1780 and 1813. In 1795 the estate covered 251,000 acres (1,020 km2) (392 sq.miles). The estate remained in the ownership of the Egerton family until the last Lord Egerton died without issue in 1958. He left the house to the National Trust and gave them the park in lieu of death duties. However, as the estate itself was sold by his executors, Cheshire County Council committed to a 99-year lease in place of an endowment to ensure that it was preserved for the benefit of the nation. The Trust's ownership (run now by Cheshire East Council) is some 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) (3.1 sq.miles). The Hall and Park have been developed into a visitor attraction on an increasingly commercial basis, which has caused significant controversy in particular with the recent BeWilderWood proposals.
* Tatton Old Hall *
The hall was originally timber-framed, which was subsequently replaced by brick. It is L-shaped, in two storeys. The floors that had been inserted into the older wing have been removed, revealing the complex wooden roof. The Old Hall stands in grounds surrounded by a wall. Within these grounds is a reconstructed cruck barn. It is timber-framed with brick infill and has a thatched roof. Most of the timber has come from a demolished barn at Clotton Hoofield. The barn has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.
The hall is built in red brick with a stone slate roof. It was originally timber-framed, but this was replaced by brick in the late 17th or early 18th century. The hall is L-shaped and externally appears to have two storeys. Internally the floors which were added to the older hall have been removed, exposing the complex wooden roof. This has a carved wall plate, carved beams and three tiers of quatrefoil wind braces. The hall contains a gallery which was added in the 20th century. The newer wing retains its two floors and is divided into separate rooms.
In the grounds of the hall is a cruck barn dating from the beginning of the 17th century which was originally in a farm at Frodsham, Cheshire. In a dilapidated state, it was removed from its original site in 1976 and rebuilt and restored at Tatton. The barn is 70 feet (21 m) long and contains four crucks on sandstone plinths. The long walls of the barn are timber-framed with brick infill on a stone base and the short sides are in plain brick. The roof is thatched in Norfolk reed with sedge on the ridge. On the southeast front are two double doors and one single door; on the northwest front is one single door. Internally, cambered ties have been inserted between the crucks. The barn is listed at Grade II.
* Tatton Hall *
The original manor house in Tatton Park was Tatton Old Hall. Around 1716 a new hall was built in a more elevated position on the site of the present mansion some 0.75 miles (1 km) to the west. This house was a rectangular block of seven bays with three storeys. From 1758 the owner Samuel Egerton began to make improvements to the house, in particular a rococo interior to his drawing room (now the dining room), designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard. During the 1770s Samuel Egerton commissioned Samuel Wyatt to design a house in Neoclassical style.
Both Samuel Egerton and Samuel Wyatt died before the house was finished, and it was completed (1807–16), on a reduced scale, by Wilbraham Egerton and Lewis William Wyatt, Samuel Wyatt's nephew. Samuel Wyatt had planned a house of eleven bays, but Lewis reduced this to seven. Wilbraham bought a number of fine paintings, and many items of furniture made by Gillows of Lancaster. In 1861–62 an upper floor was added to the family wing to a design by G. H. Stokes. In 1884 a family entrance hall was added to the north face and a smoking room to the extreme west of the family wing. Also in 1884 electricity was installed in the hall.
During the later part of the 19th century Wilbraham Egerton, 1st Earl Egerton, hosted large house parties in the hall. Eminent guests included the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1887, and at later dates the Shah of Persia and the Crown Prince of Siam. The last member of the Egerton family to live in the hall was Maurice Egerton. He made a large collection of objects from around the world some which are on display in the hall. On his death in 1958 Maurice Egerton bequeathed the mansion and gardens to the National Trust.
To the west of the entrance hall is the Card Room (where calling cards were left – not for playing cards, as in other Card Rooms). This room has a neoclassical cornice and fireplace. A set of open arm chairs are English in the Adam style which date from around 1785. Other furniture dates from the 19th century in Louis XVI marquetry style. In a showcase is a rare silver filigree Horn Book. Paintings in the room include La Gouvernante by Chardin, The Head of an Old Man, 1639 by Abraham Bloemaert, A Farrier's by Philips Wouwerman, and Head of Nicodemus after Rogier van der Weyden.
On the other side of the Entrance Hall is the Music Room whose walls are decorated with cherry-coloured silk damask. Much of the furniture is in the French Boulle revival style (with brass inlays in the style of André Charles Boulle). An alcove was intended to be occupied by an organ but it contains a rosewood bookcase in boulle work. The circular table, couches and chairs are also in boulle style, made by Gillows. The fireplace is made from white marble and is decorated with images of musical instruments and motifs. Two vases on the mantelpiece are 19th-century Meissen. The harpsichord was made by Kirckman's and is dated 1789.
The paintings include pieces by Gaspard Dughet, Aernout van der Neer, Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem, and Guercino, and two still life paintings by Jan Davidszoon de Heem and Cornelis de Heem. To the south of the music room is the Drawing Room which is decorated in a similar style. The ceiling is gilded and coffered and is decorated with rosettes. Together with its elaborate furniture it is the "most impressive and ostentatious room in the house". The paintings include two views of Venice by Canaletto, The Sacrifice of Noah by Poussin, The Martyrdom of St. Stephen by Van Dyck, and paintings by Annibale Carracci and Giovanni Battista Cimaroli. A full-length portrait of Samuel Egerton is by Bartolomeo Nazari.
Behind the portico on the south front of the house is the Library. The furniture in this room is practical rather than decorative, most of it again having been made by Gillows. The bookcases date from 1811–12. The pair of globes, terrestrial and celestial, were made by the Cary family. On top of the bookcases are Dutch Delft vases and jars from the 17th–18th centuries.
The room contains over 8,000 books, many in their original covers and in mint condition. The earliest book is dated 1513. Some of the books are unbound and in their original paper covers, including first editions of two novels by Jane Austen. Other than a portrait of Charles II, all the paintings in the library are portraits of members of the Egerton family. To the west of the Library is the Dining Room. This is a survival from the original house and is decorated in rococo style. The white marble fireplace dates from 1840 and was designed by Richard Westmacott. Most of the furniture in the room is made in mahogany by Gillows. The paintings in the room are all portraits of the Egerton family.
In the centre of the building are the main stairs. These rise from the Staircase Hall which is lit by a domed oval skylight. To east of this hall, through two pairs of marble columns, is the Cupola Hall. On its floor is an Axminster carpet with an unusual design showing celestial objects and the signs of the Zodiac for the winter months. The halls contain English furniture in Adam style and items of oriental ceramics.
The bedrooms are named mainly after the type or colour of the original drapery. All the bedrooms, except the Lemon Room, have adjoining dressing rooms. The furniture in all the rooms was supplied by Gillows. The Silk Bedroom is above the Entrance Hall and was one of the principal guest rooms. It contains furniture of mahogany inlaid with ebony. The bed is a cut-down four poster bed. The Silk Dressing Room contains a large tin bath on castors.
The other bedrooms are the Chintz Bedroom, which is furnished as a sitting room, the Lemon Bedroom, and the Amber Bedroom, which is furnished as a Victorian day nursery. Most of the paintings in the bedrooms depict family members. The Egerton Room was originally the Blue Bedroom but, with its dressing room, is now used for an exhibition about the Egerton family.
In addition to family portraits, the paintings in these rooms include schemes for the design of the house by the architects, and paintings of architectural features by J. C. Buckler. There are also three paintings of excavations for the Manchester Ship Canal by Benjamin Williams Leader. Wilbraham Egerton, 1st Earl Egerton was the second chairman of the Manchester Ship Canal Company from 1887 to 1894. The dressing room includes paintings by Vasari and Tosini.
Opposite this room is the Family Entrance and opposite the garden entrance is the Oak Staircase which was moved here from Hough End Hall. The Servants' Quarters occupy two floors, the ground floor and basement. These contain the usual rooms required to service a mansion and many of these are furnished with the equipment and utensils formerly in use in the house. One room, known as the Maurice Egerton Exhibition Room, houses a collection of items from around the world which were collected by Maurice Egerton on his travels.
* Home Farm *
To the north of the mansion is Home Farm, which provided food and building services for the estate. It has been maintained to look much as it did in the 1930s when electricity replaced steam to operate the farm machinery. It is now open as a visitor attraction and contains a variety of farm animals. The farm takes an interest in caring for and breeding rare breeds of farm animals, including Tamworth pigs, Red Poll cows and Leicester Longwool sheep. In 2007 the farm received accreditation by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
* Tatton Park Gardens *
The first formal gardens were created around the early 18th-century house and consisted of a walled garden to the south of the house, a formal semicircular pond to its north and formal lines of trees to the east and west. Later Samuel Wyatt set out an avenue of beeches to the south, which is now the Broad Walk. An arboretum was created during the 18th century and additions have been made to it since. The earliest reference to the arboretum is in 1795 when between five and ten species were present.
The first formal garden to be created for the present house was Charlotte's Garden, designed by Lewis William Wyatt in 1814. Lewis also designed the sandstone Conservatory which was originally joined to the house by a glass passageway. This was also known as the Orangery because for a time it was used for growing oranges. In the 1830s a copy of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in Athens was placed at the end of the Broad Walk. Gardens were established along the sides of the Broad Walk, including the Leech Pool and the area containing the Golden Brook.
In 1847 the terraces to the south of the house were laid out as an Italian Garden by Edward Milner to a design by Joseph Paxton. Later in the century, in 1883, Wilbraham Egerton added the stone balustrade. The statue of Neptune, which came from Venice, was added in 1920. Over the years changes have been made to this garden, and it was restored to its original design in 1986. In 1859 the Fernery had been built to a design by George Stokes, Paxton's assistant and son-in-law, to the west of the Conservatory to house tree ferns from New Zealand. The Fernery was seen in the TV miniseries Brideshead Revisited.
In 1910, inspired by a visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition in London, Alan de Tatton created the Japanese Garden. Artifacts within the garden, including the Shinto shrine, are believed to have been brought from Japan for the construction of the garden. In 1913 Alan de Tatton laid out the Rose Garden for his wife which contained a pool for bathing. Maintenance work in this garden had to be completed by 10.00 am. to allow Lady Egerton to enjoy it without being disturbed.
Later in the 20th century Maurice Egerton built the African Hut to the east of the Broad Walk as an association with his visits to Africa. He also planted large numbers of azaleas and rhododendrons. By the end of the 20th century the Japanese Garden had become overgrown and it was restored in 2001. Since then the kitchen garden has been restored and the head gardener is planning to construct a new garden to reflect garden design in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The present garden entrance leads from the stable yard into the Walled Garden. On top of the north-facing wall are objects which look like urns, but which are actually chimney pots for what was once a heated wall. The ancillary buildings, including the mushroom sheds, onion stores, barns and glasshouses, have been restored to their former uses. The vegetable garden contains varieties of plants which were known to have been grown at Tatton in the Edwardian era. Some of the fruit in the garden was also grown during that time, while other varieties of fruit had been grown elsewhere in Cheshire. The glasshouses contain a representation of what would have been originally grown in them, including a restored pinery vinery for growing pineapples.
The Walled Garden leads into the "Pleasure Gardens" which were for enjoyment rather than utility. These contain the L Borders which include plants formally arranged to replicate the style of border developed by Gertrude Jekyll. To the south of the L Borders is Charlotte's Garden. This was designed as a Gardenesque type of garden, including a conservatory, an arbour, a fountain, a rockery and a snake path. These five elements can still be found in this garden. The L Border, the Broad Walk and Beech Avenue form the main path through the gardens to the south which lead to the Monument.
Opposite Charlotte's Garden is the Topiary which leads to the Rose Garden. This garden contains artifacts, including a Tea House, many of which were taken from the estate of Rostherne Manor. To the south of the Rose Garden is the Tower Garden which contains a brick tower whose original purpose was to watch for sheep-stealing on the park land. This garden also contains articles from Rostherne Manor. Along the western border of the garden is the Arboretum which contains 880 plants in 281 species. Its important trees include a Giant Redwood, a Weymouth Pine, a Mexican White Pine, an Ernest's Fir and a Chilean Incense Cedar.
To the southeast of Tatton Hall is the Italian Garden, a formal garden on two terraces. Its centrepiece is the statue of Neptune, which is unusual in that its pipework is visible at the back. To the south of the east end of the family wing are the Conservatory, the Fernery and the Showhouse.
* Parkland *
The parkland consists of 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of landscaped deer park, 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of which are open to the public. Much of the design of the park was inspired by the ideas of Humphrey Repton. In the park are two meres; the larger, Tatton Mere, is natural but the other, Melchett Mere, is the consequence of subsidence in the 1920s. The meres are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar sites.
The deer park was created by a royal charter in 1290 and deer have been present since then. The two species present are red deer and fallow deer of which there are 400 breeding stock. Two rare species of sheep graze in the park, Hebridean sheep and Soay sheep. Visitor activities pursued in the park include walking, cycling (cycles are available to hire), horse riding, sailing and fishing. Near the main car park is a children's adventure playground. The parkland is listed as Grade II* in the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.
Around the park are three lodges. To the south leading to Knutsford is Knutsford Lodge. This dates from 1810 and was designed by Lewis Wyatt. It consists of a triple gateway constructed of ashlar stone with a large central arch and smaller flanking arches, each with cast-iron gates, and a single-storey lodge to the west. The lodge is also constructed of ashlar with a slate roof. Flanking the central arch are Doric columns carrying an entablature with a triglyph frieze, and a pediment surmounted by heavy acroteria. The archway is semicircular with voussoirs and a scrolled keystone. The outer arches are simple.
Rostherne Lodge to the west has a hexastyle Greek Doric portico. Above this is a full entablature with triglyphs and guttae below. The pediment is plain. The lodge was designed in 1833 by James Hakewill.
During World War II Lord Egerton's parkland played a major role in the training of all allied paratroops by No.1 Parachute Training School RAF based at nearby RAF Ringway. On 6 July 1940, Squadron Leader Louis Strange approached his pre-World War I fellow aviator and friend, Maurice Egerton, to ask for the latter's co-operation in granting permission for the Royal Air Force to use his estate for this most important wartime purpose. Lord Egerton readily agreed to the proposal and the first live test jumps from aircraft were made on 13 July by RAF parachuting instructors.
Between 1940 and early 1946, approximately 60,000 trainees from the United Kingdom and several European countries, including Special agents made their first training drops from cages suspended from Barrage balloons over an open area to the northwest of the hall.
After their initial drops from the balloons, the trainees then boarded aircraft at Ringway for the short flight to overhead Tatton Park, where they jumped in batches of ten, and later twenty, from approximately 800 feet. Some trainees requested 'drops' into Tatton Mere or into the parkland's trees to further prepare them for active operations. A free-standing stone memorial to Tatton Park's major wartime role in parachute training is located at the far edge of the dropping zone, about 0.6 miles (970 m) to the NW of the hall.
A programme of events is organised in the hall, garden and parkland. These include the annual RHS Show Tatton Park arranged by the Royal Horticultural Society, car shows, concerts, courses and craft and antique fairs. Tatton Park is also home to one of the seven national Foodies Festivals. Parts of the hall and gardens can be hired for celebrations, weddings, and for conferences and meetings.
* –– *
Set amid more than 50 acres of gardens, at the heart of 1,000 acres of landscaped parkland, the elegant mansion at Tatton Park sits in an elevated position. The impressive portico of the south front dominates the view of the house from the parkland.
The Library is perfectly symmetrical, in keeping with the formality of the neo-classical style. It houses one of the largest and most important library collections owned by the National Trust with over 8,000 books in this room alone, many still in their original covers and in mint condition.
The music and drawing room is the most ostentatious room in the house; Tatton’s collection of Gillow furniture is unrivalled. Wilbraham Egerton’s ownership (1777–1853) saw the commission of many pieces especially for the house. The scullery, kitchen, salting room and wine cellar all show what life was like for the servants at Tatton. Did you know: Over the 66 years recorded, 51,000 bottles were listed here for consumption by the Egertons.
Ask the NT visitor assistants about:
The Egerton family collected many objects and pieces of furniture over the years. To see more of Tatton's collection highlights, visit the National Trust Collections website. They are constantly discovering more about the hidden histories of the people who lived and worked at Tatton and about the new technologies they introduced to the mansion to ensure it ran efficiently. Visit the Hidden Histories website.
* –– *
Since 1725, each successive owner of the Egerton family estate played a part in the evolution of the gardens and sought the expertise of the leading landscape architects of the time. There are a number of distinct areas within the 50 acres of gardens. The Japanese Garden was almost certainly the result of Alan de Tatton’s visit to the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition at the White City in London in 1910. He got together a team of Japanese workmen to create what is now rated to be the 'finest example of a Japanese Gardens in Europe'.
Don't miss the 19th-century fernery. The stunning fernery has an extensive collection of ferns and tree ferns from New Zealand and Australia and was designed in the late 1850s by Joseph Paxton who was famous for building Crystal Palace.
Their walled kitchen garden demonstrates the importance of traditional skills and procedures and seasonal produce is available to purchase in the garden shop.
* –– *
The perfect day out with the 'kids', the farm provides a picture of rural life where time has 'stood still' since the 1930s and traditional breeds are still resident. With a play trail and animals to feed there's so much to see and do. They were awarded Rare Breeds Accreditation by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. They are one of only 17 farm parks in the UK to receive the award which recognises their commitment to the conservation, breeding and promotion of rare/endangered breeds of farm animals.
There are plenty of things for the children to do. Feed the goats and hens, meet the pigs and donkeys and visit Aunt Mary’s 1930s cottage. The covered play barn has tractor and trailer rides and there are usually new arrivals to say hello to.
Plan your visit to the farm
The farm has been extended to include a fabulous children's adventure area, which features a woodland play trail and den-building zone which provides a great day out for all the family.
* –– *
If Tatton Park is a jewel in the crown of Cheshire, then the Old Hall is its hidden gem. The building stands near the disappeared Tatton village, whose humps and hollows show where houses once stood.
The site is a `Scheduled Ancient Monument' considered an area of significant historical and archaeological importance in the North West. Once the heart of the estate, Tatton Park's Old Hall survives as its oldest building, and a costumed guided tour takes you on an evocative journey through its history as a dwelling place - from manor house to humble cottages.
Built at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, the single-storey great hall, dimly lit by tallow candle and flickering fire, still retains the shadowy atmosphere of Tudor times. As featured on TV's Most Haunted, the Old Hall is the venue for historical re-enactments and is host to many of Tatton Park's events such as the busy travelling Medieval Fayre, or summer outdoor theatre. It provides the perfect setting for Halloween Hauntings.
* –– *
Tatton Park's 2,000 acres of landscaped deer park, woodland, meres and farmland make up the Tatton estate of which 1,000 acres are open to the public for exploring by bike, on foot or on horseback. The appearance of the parkland today owes much to the ideas of the landscape architect Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) though there is evidence of habitation here during the Stone Age.
A deer park since 1290, Tatton's parkland is now home to herds of Red and Fallow deer which roam freely in the wide open spaces. Rare breed St Kilda and Soay sheep have also been a feature here since 1887 and the 1930s respectively, and every season brings its own rich variety of birds and wildlife.
Plenty of activiites to do in the parkland:
* Visiting *
Tatton's Stableyard is the perfect place to spend time shopping and dining. Tatton's shops showcase local and estate produce and carefully selected souvenirs, and the Stables restaurant caters for all.
The Garden Shop. The garden shop sells a wonderful range of garden related gifts along with seasonal herbs, pots, plants and baskets. Hand-picked produce from the walled kitchen garden is often on sale along with its conserves & chutney.
Housekeeper's Store. Visit the store for mouthwatering Tatton and local produce - the finest cheeses and Tatton venison, lamb and pork. A great choice of fine wines, jams, biscuits and coffee. Gift hampers, contemporary cookware & much more!
The Gift Shop. Browse the innovative range of individual gifts and souvenirs, many representing aspects of Tatton's rich history. Here you can find watercolour prints, books, cards, pottery, perfumery, toys and a range of outdoor-ware.
The Stables Restaurant. The Stables offers everything from a cup of tea to a 3 course meal plus option to dine outdoors in the attractive Stableyard. Fresh each day, the daily menu includes delicious local ingredients.
New Gardener's Cottage tea room. The former head gardener’s cottage is the perfect location for a relaxing breakfast, specialty coffee, lunch or traditional afternoon tea. Enjoy freshly baked, homemade cakes by our baker, Margaret who has been baking her fabulous cakes here at Tatton for 24 years.
Location : Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN
Transport: Knutsford (National Rail) then 2 miles. Bus routes: 88, 188 and 300 then 1 mile. Taxi: Amber Taxis 01565 650707.
Opening Times Parkland: Daily, 10:00 to 19:00
Opening Times Gardens: Daily, 10:00 to 18:00
Opening Times Farm: Daily, 12:00 to 17:00
Opening Times Mansion: Daily, 13:00 to 17:00
Tickets Farm Only: Adults £7.00; Children £5.00 ; Family £19.00.
Tickets Gardens Only: Adults £7.00; Children £5.00 ; Family £19.00.
Tickets Mansion Only: Adults £7.00; Children £5.00 ; Family £19.00.
Tickets Combined: Adults £13.00; Children £7.00 ; Family £33.00.
Tickets Old Hall: Adults £7.00; Children £5.00 ; Family £19.00.
Tel: 01625 374435