Papers re Restoration of Dunham Massey Hall

Scope and Content

A large quantity of records relating to the restoration of Dunham Massey Hall survives. The series contains the following items: a bundle of legal and financial papers relating to the restoration of Dunham Massey Hall, including statements of expenditure and an order in Chancery approving the expenditure of capital moneys, 1905-8 (EGR7/20/1); two bundles of correspondence between the architect J. Compton Hall and the 9th Earl of Stamford, 1905-8 and 1908-9 (EGR7/20/2-3); a bundle of letters from Compton Hall to Penelope Countess of Stamford, 1906-8 (EGR7/20/4); an envelope containing letters from Compton Hall to Lady Stamford and plans by Compton Hall, 1905-6 (EGR7/20/5); a bundle of correspondence between the interior designer Percy Macquoid and Lord Stamford, 1907-9 (EGR7/20/6); a bundle of correspondence between Macquoid and Lady Stamford, 1907-9 (EGR7/20/7); an envelope containing letters from Compton Hall, Macquoid and William D. Bullock to Lady Stamford, 1906 & 1908 (EGR7/20/8); a bundle of letters from Morant & Co. to Lady Stamford, 1906-8 (EGR7/20/9); a bundle of estimates, invoices, receipts and letters from Morant & Co. to Lord and Lady Stamford, 1907-11 (EGR7/20/10); a bundle of receipts from Trower, Still, Freeling & Parkin for payments by Lord Stamford, 1905-9 (EGR7/20/11); two bundles of invoices and letters from London and provincial tradesmen for the supply of various items to Dunham Massey Hall, 1906-9 (EGR7/20/12-13); a bundle of miscellaneous papers relating to the restoration of Dunham Massey Hall, 1906-9 & 1925 (EGR7/20/14); two rolled plans of the South Front and proposed gates for the forecourt of Dunham Massey Hall, 1905 & 1915 (EGR7/20/15); and a rolled plan of the gardens at Dunham Massey Hall, 1909 (EGR7/20/16).

Administrative / Biographical History

When William Grey (1850-1910), 9th Earl of Stamford, inherited Dunham Massey upon the death of the Dowager Countess of Stamford & Warrington in January 1905, he found the house in a state of disrepair. The Grey family had not lived there since 1855 and the Hall was entirely lacking in modern comforts and conveniences.

As soon as his Cheshire Estates Bill received Royal Assent in August 1905 Lord Stamford commissioned the minor London architect Joseph Compton Hall to draw up a scheme for the restoration of the Hall. The alterations and improvements included a new roof, drainage system, telephones, electric lighting, heating system and water supply. Compton Hall built a new Dining Room at the north-west corner of the Hall, enlarged the Entrance Hall, and removed the glazed corridor across the Central Courtyard. Externally the most visible structural alteration was the remodelling of the South Front, upon which Compton Hall imposed an elaborate centrepiece while lowering the roofline. His neo-Caroline frontage has been variously described as "an aberration" and "a fussy piece of historicism": see John Harris, 'A bird's-eye view of Dunham Massey', Apollo, July 1978, p. 11; National Trust, Dunham Massey: an illustrated souvenir.

The main building contractor was the Cambridge firm of William Saint & Co. The total cost of the restoration was over £35,000, although under the Scheme of Improvements approved by Chancery much of the expenditure was funded by the Stamford Trustees out of capital moneys.

In April 1907 the stage designer and furniture historian Percy Macquoid, a cousin of Lady Stamford, was invited to redecorate the Saloon and Great Hall, and to advise on the decoration of other rooms. Aspects of Percy Macquoid's career are discussed in Ralph Edwards, 'Percy Macquoid and others', Apollo, May 1974, pp. 332-9. Most of the actual decorative work was executed by Morant & Co. (later Lenygon & Morant), one of the finest firms of decorators and upholsterers of the period, who also undertook the restoration of many items of furniture. Their work cost approximately £3000.

Percy Macquoid's inspired use of colour and his meticulous selection of wall-coverings, textiles, carpets and pieces of furniture combined with Morant's craftsmanship to transform Dunham Massey Hall. It has been described as one of their most important joint commissions. "Their interiors combined the practical needs and fashionable taste of the 1900s with a rare historical sensitivity": John Hardy and Gervase Jackson-Stops, 'The second Earl of Warrington and the "Age of Walnut"', Apollo, July 1978, p. 12. Thanks to the stewardship of the 10th Earl of Stamford and latterly the National Trust, their achievement has been preserved intact.