Contributed by Sue Wallworth
|The name comes from Wina's Tun; Wina was a Saxon who built a stockade and huts for his family and retainers. He made his dwelling on the banks of the river Weaver, in the narrow gorge between the scarp of Anderton and the nob of Winnington. There could have been a stone pitched fort at this point, lying somewhere between Watling Street and Saltersford. The river Weaver is about 2000 years old and people always built where water lay, particularly running water.
Wina's name may have come from his home at Wincham, he was probably rich and powerful and, probably controlled Wynisford (Winsford) as well, but little is known other than that.
Four hundred years later the land around Winnington was divided between two Freemen : Hunding and Heofnoth. Then, three years later after the Conquest, the district was laid waste, and what was left was divided between Osburn Fitz Tessin, a Boydell ancestor, and Ranulph de Mesnilwarin (Mainwaring.)
The two half manors were rated at 'one ride between them', ie. sixty odd acres, that was ploughed enough to be worth taxation. The two half rides supported equally for each lord: one Radman and one Villein, complete with his four plough oxen. The date was 1086, and both farms would make a profit of 2/- a year 'without extortion'.
Each manor consisted of only three or four 10ft. 'A' frames 'at 16ft. centre'; they would be thatched on top and filled in below with mud and cow-dung plastered onto layered rods. The earth floor was covered with straw, apart from the middle, where a fireplace stood. This consisted of a few stone slates and clay, with a hole in the roof above, to let out the smoke.
For the next five hundred years Cheshire, being a Palatine county, was virtually an independent state. From 1237 the King, who was also Earl of Chester, visited from time to time 'on his way to hang the Irish'. He would collect men to fight, especially the famous Cheshire Archer.
In 1610, the King's Chronicles wrote of the people of Cheshire: "The people of the country are gentle and courteous, ready to help and further one another, that is to be seen chiefly in the Harvest-time, how careful they are of each other. Otherwise they are of stomach, stout, bold and hardy of stature, tall and mighty, ready to resist the enemy that shall invade their country."
In 1263, the earl of Chester who would become Edward I, loved to hunt around the Vale Royal Abbey area, and when he was saved from a shipwreck while crossing from Calais to Dover, he vowed, in the excitement of the moment, to build an Abbey, with thanks to God. In all of England he loved Cheshire. This foundation and the nearness to Great Budworth, probably opened up Winnington, because there is a reference to money being spent to repair Winnington Bridge - 1320.
In the last quarter of the 12th century William Boidelle - great grandson of Osburn Fitz Tessin, conferred his moiety of Winnington [?on] Liddulphe de Twemlowe, son of Wulfric de Croxton, of Lache. In the middle of the 13th century Wulfric gave his son Robert, the moiety, who assumed the name and present Arms of Winnington. Robert obtained the second moiety in 1272, by marrying Margery, the only daughter and heiress of another Robert de Winnington, who inherited from his father William. This William de Winnington obtained half of Winnington by grant from Robert de Wybbenbury, who in turn had it from Ranulph Mainwaring.
Winnington was now a single manor, and one of growing repute. In 1322 the manor owned a Wych in Northwich. In 1340, a plea for dowen noted 32 farms, 2 mills, 460aces of land, 10 meadows, 30 wood, 100 pasture and 100 acres of moss in Winnington and Werford, Juxta Olreton, 'besides lands in Castle Norwych'.
In 1506, Richard, the last of the Winningtons, died. Nine years later his fourteen year old daughter married Piers Warburton of Arley, and for the next 160 years Winnington passed to Arley, from Warburton to Warburton.
The manor that had started life as a Saxon home was now a substantial house. Today no trace can be found, but the bar and changing rooms of the 'Hall Club' are certainly 16th century and show traces of a stone footing and a buttress that belonged to an earlier building.
The walls and roof of Winnington Hall conceal at least four gable ends, which give clues to how it has grown. The L-shaped roof over the bar and front is one roof. The first building roughly timber and stone dwarf wall below the framing, which might have occupied the covering over the bar and oak hall. Over the oak bedrooms are two more gable ends, showing that the first extension was three bays long, the centre three of the present Hall, which is Tudor, is a fourth gable hidden in the roof. It is presumed that the old house, an oblong of 21 ft by 32 ft. became this wing of the house some eight times larger than the original area. Later two new wings were built on either side of the main front to cover what is now the five bays of the front; a stone cellar was also built.
The roof principles are typical of the Tudor times, between the tie bars and the joists are two more uprights to frame the windows in the gables. This can be seen on the front of the Hall, although the windows have now been filled in. Next there is a new kind of truss with a king-post and two heavy truss post members forming an inverted arrowhead, all are pegged, with Queen Ann banisters and the partitions are rush and plaster-altogether. This was probably the servants wing.
Wyatt extended the next part of the hall. The fourth, the western Tudor wing, was pulled down as far as the Oak Room, and Wyatt tied on the L-shape. This L-shape is quite ugly, built of brick with a stone facing, apart from the spiral staircase, which was never done.
From the fourth extension to 1866 the whole of the Tudor black and white front was given a new look -'castellated', and covered with a rough cast, which is out of keeping with the Wyatt wing. It was probably done when the Gothic taste started; there was yet a fifth extension done before the rough cast; this was in the tower that contains the small hall under the card room. It is small and ugly and is now almost obscured by later additions.
The stables were now joined to the Queen Ann servants wing; this is now the vegetable room.
The sixth extension is thought to be the kitchen, with its tall, pointed windows. In its life it has been a potting shed, a laboratory, and a chapel. It is possible that it started life as a Rot-house. The roof trusses are rough country copies of Wyatts, and similar trusses can be found in Northwich in the 19th century. The kitchen is thought to be dated 1807, long after Wyatt's extensions . At that time there was room for stabling fifty horses, and cottages for the workmen. Lowry lived there, and a house for Mrs. Clarke, wife to Adam, the first Coachman.
To date, the hall had nine extensions; the first was probably done for Elizabeth's (Winnington) first marriage to Piers Warburton, but they never lived there: they lived at Arley. It was safer to say it was used by the younger sons of Arley in 1515. A John Warburton was buried in his own garden at Winnington.
In 1660 George Warburton was crested a baronet; in 1677 Sir George, determined that his son Thomas should have the hall, compatible with his dignity as the eldest son, and alienated Winnington to him and his heirs forever.
In 1684 the Estate passed via a sister to Frances, to joint heiress Ann Warburton and given the Warburtons prospered and attracted a moiety of Penryn. General Hugh Warburton restored the hall to the rank of mansion in 1732, on his marriage. His mother died in 1750, aged 90 years.
It is not known which of the Wyatts was the builder - James, Samuel, Benjamin or Lewis William? In 1923 Christopher Hussey pronounced the inside work to be by James Wyatt, although he thought some people may think it Adam. But some things done didn't fit as Adam. Hussey also said the hall appeared unfinished.
In 1807, the 'Morning Chronicle' advertized a sale notice for the hall and grounds. It was listed as a site for industrial purposes. It was not sold, and Lord Penrhyn died there, childless, in 1808.
There is no record of who lived in the hall from 1808 to 1842, but in July of that year the Stanleys moved in. They thought the place very cold, and when Lord Stanley died, his widow moved out immediately; the year was 1850.
Miss Bell rented the Hall from the Stanley family and called it an Academy for daughters of the gently born. Ruskin came to stay, and described it as a 'nice place'. There was a portrait of him, hung in the library, along with portraits of Maurice the BP of Oxford, and of Archdeacon Hare. In 1868 the school moved on, although Miss Bell stayed. Once again the hall started to deteriorate.
Brunner & Mond
The hall was offered for sale with 676 acres of land, at the Crewe Arms, on the 16th October 1870. No-one bought it, but in the late summer of 1872, Brunner & Mond had the idea of building their Works on this spot. That same August, Thomas Leicester, son of a local contractor, made a rough inventory of the hall and its buildings. It seems that Ludwig Mond wanted the hall pulled down. In 1873 he wrote to John Brunner saying that a carpenter who had done a great deal of work had the hall had told him that the lead on top would pay enough for pulling the old part down.
However, John Brunner could not find a suitable home for his family, so he decided to live there. In a letter to Charles Holland, dated July 1873, he writes ' I have had the rough cast stripped off the old hall and you will be charmed by this appearance; the oak framing is now visible'. Unfortunately the whole of the Tudor hall was riddled with dry-rot.
Once again the hall was to be changed. William Leicester gutted the upper storeys; the third storey was scrapped, the windows filled in. Panelling was saved that could be re-used, and covered the Queen Ann bedroom, and re-facing of the front of the Hall externally.
In 1884, Ludwig Mond moved to London; he was rich. His side of the house was kept on. A few years later, John Brunner and his wife also left for London, while Sidney Brunner stayed on at the hall. Some lively parties took place; however in 1890 Sidney was drowned in a boating accident on lake Como. The hall was deserted for good, apart from Edward Milner, General Manager and Staff; also, directors used the hall for meetings.
It was in 1890 that the term 'Hall Club' started to be used, and after Sir John Brunner the younger married, in 1894 finishing all family interest in the hall, Edward Milner opened it as 'The Hall Club', for dances, tennis and boating, for the management and wives. In 1899 the Hall Club was finally put on a permanent footing; Edward Milner was the first Chairman. in 1904 the Hall Club was once again extended - a billiard room, kitchen, storeroom and lavatory were added.
In 1919, the Hall Club became what it is today. It was the year that a firm of architects by the name of Darcy Bradell of Deane and Bradwell, London, were brought in. Darcy decorated and refurbished the Wyatt wing with great enthusiasm, and help from Major Frank Wedgewood and Mr Harry Barnard.
To Wedgewood goes the glory of the black basalt vases in the gallery and on the stairs; moulded using 18th century moulds, Wedgewood made the medallion of Joseph Priestly that hangs over the Orangery door.
After 150 years of vicissitude, the hall is returned to its self, and recalls something of the atmosphere of its history and former glory.