Dunham Massey Hall: the Fabric of the Hall
The earliest extant description of Dunham Massey Hall occurs in an extent of the manor of Dunham Massey from 1410/11 (EGR2/1/1/3/1). The amount of detailed information which this provides justifies an extended translation from the Latin. The site of the manor was said to be "surrounded by a certain moat (fossat'), within which is a certain hall with a high chamber with a chapel and other small chambers adjoining... [word obliterated] roofed with shingles, a certain treasury... [word obliterated] between the kitchen and hall roofed with planks (tabulis), a kitchen roofed with stones (lapidibus), a certain stable roofed with planks and a certain granary roofed with thatch (stramine) and a certain gatehouse roofed with shingles, which said buildings with their foundations within the said site have no value beyond reprises. Item, there is a certain ruined dovecote outside the moat which has no value beyond reprises. There is there a certain orchard outside the moat which used to yield 2 shillings per annum. The demesne lands there do not remain in the hands of the lord because in the time of the predecessors of the present lord they were leased to various tenants in parcels and they still remain in the same way in the hands of the underwritten termors as is set out below. But there is there a certain meadow called Dunham Medo containing nine and a half acres, each acre being worth 5 shillings. And there is there a certain pool adjoining the moat around the hall, which is not stocked and so has no yearly value beyond reprises. Sum: 49s 6d."
Nothing of the medieval structures has survived. The core of the present house at Dunham Massey dates from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, when Sir George Booth (1566-1652) "builded three parts of Dunham House", as he records in his lengthy account roll (EGR3/3/3/2). The plan of the house appears to have been E-shaped, with central access into the Great Hall. The younger George Booth (1622-1684), 1st Baron Delamer, enclosed the courtyard connecting the two projecting wings by adding a southern front in around 1655. Sir Peter Leycester records that George Booth "much beautified the manor-house of Dunham Massey", and that "he encompassed a large outward court with a Brick-wall and a fair gate of stone".
This present brief account of the history of Dunham Massey Hall, Park and Gardens is largely based on the following sources: John Swarbrick, 'Dunham Massey Hall', Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, vol. 42 (1925), pp. 53-79; National Trust, Dunham Massey (1986); National Trust, Dunham Massey: an illustrated souvenir (1990).
When George Booth (1675-1758), 2nd Earl of Warrington, inherited Dunham Massey in 1694 he found the house "so decayed as forced me to rebuild it, for it could not have lasted safe another generation". First however he had to redress the parlous state of the family's finances and it was not until the 1730s that he was able to embark on the rebuilding of Dunham Massey Hall. Conservative in taste and ever-mindful of expense, the 2nd Earl employed the little-known architect John Norris to encase the Elizabethan and Jacobean house in a plain four-square brick structure, of a style which was forty years out of date.
In 1789 the 5th Earl of Stamford hired the local architect John Hope to carry out alterations to the south front, in order to create a series of bedroom suites (see EGR7/14/1/69). Three years after he inherited Dunham Massey in 1819, the 6th Earl of Stamford commissioned another minor architect, John Shaw of London, to create a dining room in what is now the Saloon, and to build a glazed corridor across the Central Courtyard (see EGR7/19). For the next eighty years Dunham Massey remained largely unaltered. Indeed for most of the second half of the nineteenth century, after the 7th Earl of Stamford's departure in 1855, Dunham Massey Hall was tenanted and many of the choicest items of furniture, pictures and silverware were removed to Enville Hall, the Grey family's Staffordshire seat.
The last major alterations to Dunham Massey Hall were instigated by William Grey (1850-1910), 9th Earl of Stamford. On his inheritance of the Cheshire estate in 1905 he embarked on the comprehensive restoration of the then dilapidated house. He employed the little-known London architect Joseph Compton Hall to remodel the south front and to carry out numerous other alterations and renovations, while the decoration of the principal rooms was entrusted to the stage designer and furniture historian Percy Macquoid, a cousin of the Countess of Stamford (see EGR7/20). Thanks to the careful stewardship of the 10th Earl of Stamford and latterly the National Trust, Dunham Massey Hall has been preserved for posterity much as it was on the eve of the First World War.
Dunham Massey Hall: the Management of the Hall
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the management of Dunham Massey Hall was entrusted to the house steward. He was responsible for the purchase of foodstuffs, beverages, newspapers, stationery, linen, furniture, kitchenware, coal and all other commodities which were required at the Hall. In addition he had responsibility for the upkeep and repair of the Hall and its contents, paying for and supervising the work of carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, plumbers, glaziers, tinsmiths, coopers, upholsterers, painters, clock-makers, bookbinders, and other tradesmen and craftsmen who were employed at the Hall. In addition the house steward dispensed charity on behalf of the owners of Dunham Massey: he distributed money among the poor in local townships, made donations to individual poor persons, and paid for their clothing, schooling and medical bills. The house steward received cash payments from the agent and accounted to the agent for all expenditure incurred by him. The following house steward's accounts survive: a bundle of quarterly statements of account, 1772-90 (EGR7/14/1); four bundles of quarterly statements of account with supporting vouchers, 1822 (EGR7/12/5-8); three cash books, 1819-57 (EGR7/8); and a bundle of quarterly statements of account, 1839-40 (EGR7/14/6).
Before 1787 the house steward was directly responsible for maintaining the stock of wines, spirits and ale in the cellars at Dunham Massey Hall and the supply of candles, and accounted for these items in the household consumption account books (EGR7/1). Between 1787 and 1819 it appears to have been the practice for a house steward or butler from Enville Hall to accompany the Grey family during its annual period of residence at Dunham Massey between July and November or early December each year. During these periods the accounts were entered in the name of this servant, rather than the Dunham house steward. The butler recorded the stock of wines and spirits in a series of cellar books, 1791-1840 (EGR7/9). From 1819 until at least the mid 1840s there appears to have been a butler permanently resident at Dunham Massey.
The housekeeper's duties included the purchase of foodstuffs such as dairy produce, groceries, tea and coffee, and cleaning materials such as white sand, bleach, soap and brushes. Her expenditure was entered in the household consumption account books (EGR7/1). In addition the following housekeeper's accounts survive: a bundle of annual statements of account with supporting vouchers, 1813-16 (EGR7/14/4); an annual statement of account with supporting vouchers, 1822 (EGR7/12/13); a bundle of grocer's bills, 1837-9 (EGR7/14/5); a bundle of weekly accounts of expenditure, 1842 (EGR7/14/8); and a cash book for the housekeeper's account with Lord Stamford's agent, 1845-57 (EGR7/8/3). From 1847 the housekeeper's cash book begins to include items previously found in the house steward's cash accounts, suggesting that the housekeeper had taken over many of the house steward's responsibilities, and the position of house steward may even have been abolished.
The Hall Gardens
The earliest extant feature in the gardens is the low mound to the north-west of the Hall, the remnant of a much loftier Elizabethan mount. Kip's engraving of 1697 shows it encircled by a series of hedges and surmounted by a pavilion affording views over the gardens. Despite much speculation and some exploratory excavations in the nineteenth century, there is no evidence that the mound is a relic of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle. Kip's view also shows ornamental gardens on the western side of the Hall, while the kitchen garden was situated to the east. The former were obliterated when the 2nd Earl of Warrington constructed the Kitchen Courtyard and the Stable Block in the early eighteenth century, while the latter was swept away in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the present formal garden was created. The Edwardian restoration of the Hall included the laying out of a parterre between the house and the moat, with a rose garden extending to the Orangery, the sole relic of the former kitchen garden. During the Second World War the lawns were dug up for the growing of vegetables, and labour shortages during and after the war caused many aspects of the garden to be neglected. Since 1976 however the gardens have been restored to their Edwardian splendour by the National Trust.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries over a dozen gardeners were employed under the head gardener, supplemented by casual seasonal labour. The head gardener (who was Joseph Pickin from 1802 until the 1840s) maintained account books for expenditure in the garden, which were examined by Lord Stamford's agent (EGR7/7). He also submitted annual bundles of vouchers for expenditure, of which the bundle for 1822 survives (EGR7/12/9-12).
Dunham Park, Home Farm, Stables and Mill
The Park at Dunham Massey is medieval in origin, but owes its present appearance to George Booth (1675-1758), 2nd Earl of Warrington, who planted the formal avenues which radiate out from the Hall in the manner popularized by Louis XIV at Versailles in the mid seventeenth century. The Earl is reputed to have planted upwards of 100,000 trees, and the project occupied most of his life. Already in 1697 the first avenues were depicted in Kip's engraving, while the scheme was not completed until around 1750, when George Booth encircled the Park with a substantial brick wall at a cost of over £3,000 (see EGR3/6/2/14/33), and he commissioned the artist John Harris to paint a series of bird's-eye views of his mature creation. By then the appearance of the Park was already old-fashioned, but remarkably it has survived the changing tastes in landscape design and more recently urban encroachment. In the nineteenth century Dunham Park became a popular destination for excursions from Manchester, the visitors travelling first by boat along the Bridgewater Canal and later by rail: see R.N. Dore, 'Manchester's discovery of Cheshire: excursionism and commuting in the 19th century', Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, vol. 82 (1982), pp. 1-21. Since 1976 the National Trust has undertaken a programme of replanting to recreate the appearance of the Park as it was in the 1750s.
There has been a herd of deer at Dunham Massey at least since Elizabethan times and the Park remains home to a strong herd of fallow deer. Deer have been kept to supply meat to the Hall, as well as for ornamental reasons, and venison books and other papers record the distribution of venison among the friends and associates of the Earls of Stamford (EGR7/11/2).
Responsibility for Dunham Park generally rested with the farming steward, although for a period in the early 1800s the 5th Earl of Stamford appears to have handed its management to the house steward. This gave rise to a degree of conflict between the two stewards, as is revealed in correspondence between Lord Stamford and his agent Hugo Worthington in 1813 (EGR4/1/8/4/33-34). Worthington reported that the farming steward, John Davenport, had asked to be given responsibility for the care of Dunham Park when Robert Foot, the house steward, left Lord Stamford's service: "If this arrangement should meet with your Lordship's approbation, it would on many accounts be more agreeable to Mr Davenport, and would I believe tend to prevent any small misunderstandings as to what matters belong to the care of the house steward and what to the farming steward." Lord Stamford replied "I have always found it difficult to get a person for House Steward, unless he had some other employment than in the House, & that was my reason for giving him [Robert Foot] the care of the Park. I have no doubt that Mr D. would pay particular care & attention to the park & keep it in very good order & perhaps with less expense. It will be very easy to settle the business belonging to each if they are disposed to be accommodating to each other."
The Home Farm is situated one mile south-east of Dunham Massey Hall, just outside Dunham Park. Whereas other estate farms were held on lease by tenants, the Home Farm was directly managed by the farming steward on behalf of the owners of Dunham Massey, and it supplied the Hall with a wide range of agricultural produce. The farming steward was responsible for purchases of livestock, grain, and equipment, the payment of saddler's and blacksmith's bills and the wages of farm labourers. He also had responsibility for the running of the Stables at Dunham Massey Hall. The Stable Block was built by George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, in the 1720s, and it housed the string of coach horses, saddle horses and draught horses.
The farming steward maintained a series of account books recording cash receipts from Lord Stamford's agent and disbursements made by him, 1774-1840 (EGR7/3); cash books recording the weekly quantity and value of grain, meat and other produce consumed at Dunham Massey Hall, the Stables and the Home Farm, 1770-1831 (EGR7/2); stock books recording the weekly consumption of malt, wheat, barley, oats, meal and beans consumed at the Hall, Park, Stables and Home Farm, 1789-1837 (EGR7/5); an account book for cattle bought, sold and slaughtered, 1759-1815 (EGR7/11/1); and an account book for oats and beans consumed at the Stables, 1841-7 (EGR7/11/3). In addition there is a bundle of quarterly statements of account, 1780-5 (EGR7/14/2); and four bundles of quarterly statements of account with supporting vouchers, 1822 (EGR7/12/1-4).
Another responsibility of the farming steward was the running of the water-mill at Dunham Massey, built by Sir George Booth (1566-1652) in 1616. Through a series of mill account books in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (EGR7/4) the farming steward accounted to the Earl of Stamford for the profits from the mill. These derived in part from the levying of a toll on tenants of Lord Stamford who were obliged to grind their corn at the mill. The mill was converted into a saw-mill in the nineteenth century.