The History of Adlington Hall and the Legh Family
The Hall started life as a simple Saxon hunting lodge, a base for hunting expeditions by Earl Edwin and his men. The two oaks around which the lodge was built still stand, supporting the east wall of the Great Hall.
The Norman Conquest
William the Conqueror threw Earl Edwin off the land, and took the land into Norman hands, giving it first to a nephew, Hugh Lupus. The Norman Earls held Adlington for seven generations, until it passed to the crown in 1221 because there were no male heirs.
The First Leghs of Adlington:
The manor of Adlington came into the Legh family when Henry III passed it to Hugh de Corona, whose granddaughter, Ellen, married John de Legh. De Corona bequeathed the estate to Ellen’s son, Robert (1308 – 1370).
Robert had close connections with court and held a variety of important positions, including Riding-Forester of the Forest of Macclesfield, then a royal hunting ground. Key duties included attending the King when he came to the Forest. He also sat as ‘Justice in Eyre’, presiding over Forest Law. Forest Law was an important part of the legal system at the time, protecting the animals of the chase and the greenery that sustained them in order to guarantee good hunting for the King and his friends.
Five further Roberts followed this first Robert de Legh. The second Robert de Legh was one of the Black Prince’s Esquires. The third was knighted during the reign of Richard II, and was twice High Sheriff of Cheshire. The fourth Robert de Legh died of pestilence in 1415, as he was preparing to take part in the Battle of Agincourt.
The Tudor House
The Great Hall was built by Thomas Legh between 1480 and 1505. The rest of the house followed in the 1580s, overseen by Thomas’s great-grandson, another Thomas Legh. At this stage, the house was a complete quadrangle of half-timbered buildings. The south and west wings were later destroyed by fire, leaving the East Wing as the only surviving Tudor part of the house.
Thomas’s heir, Urian, was knighted for bravery in the English victory over Spain at Cadiz in 1595. He later became High Sheriff of Cheshire.
The Civil War
During the Civil War, Thomas Legh, the twelfth in succession, was a Colonel in the Kings’s Army, and the Hall was used as a Royalist garrison. At the time, the house had a moat, but this was not enough to deter the parliamentarians, and Thomas lost the house in December 1642. He regained it later, only to come under siege again in February 1644. This time, the family surrendered in order to prevent severe damage to the building. The house was finally returned to Thomas’s son, Colonel Thomas the Younger, in 1656 – but only after he had paid heavy fines.
Following the Restoration in 1660, Thomas made good the damage and neglect suffered by the house during the war, and renovated and rebuilt the north front.
In recognition of his services to the Stuarts, Thomas Legh was appointed Colonel of Militia and High Sheriff of Cheshire. These offices were also held by the next three Leghs in the succession.
A Georgian Country House
During the 1740s, Charles Legh transformed Adlington from a medium-sized Tudor manor into a large Georgian house. He built a new West Wing, including a ballroom occupying the full length of the first floor. He replaced older buildings with the grand Georgian south front, so connecting the new wing with the Elizabethan east wing.
Bricks were made on site, burnt in kilns in the park. The grey flagstones on the roof came from nearby Kerridge quarry.
The Twentieth Century
In 1928, the family decided it was time for a major change. Much of the west side of the quadrangle was knocked down, including the ballroom. In place of the ballroom came a narrow gallery. The alterations were designed by Sir Hubert Worthington.
The Hall Today
Between 2004 and 2009, work took place on the Elizabethan east front. This included cleaning the timber and replacing where necessary many of the oak timbers and the wattle and daub infill.
The newly-restored East Wing is now back to its original state of unpainted timbers and lime plaster.
The Hall is still the Legh family home. The current owner is Camilla, the 25th Legh in succession. Her son Thomas is the next in line.