The Estate

The Estate

The Cholmondeley Power and Speed event takes place in the beautiful grounds of Cholmondeley Castle, where the Cholmondeley family have resided since Norman times.

The first member of the family to take the name was Robert de Cholmondeley; he became the 1st Lord of Cholmondeley in about 1200.  However little is recorded about the actual Cholmondeley houses between 1066 and 1571.

The first building mentioned on the estate is St Nicholas’s Chapel in 1285, when Hugh De Cholmondeley was granted permission by the local Rectors for “a fit chaplain celebrating Driving Service in his Chapel of Cholmondeley”.  The seals on the charter can still be seen displayed in the Chapel today.

The Elizabethan Hall-In 1571 Sir Hugh Cholmondeley re-built the original medieval family home in the timber framed Elizabethan style, surrounded by a moat.  It was built by William Fawcomer, ‘Master of Carpentry & Joinery work’ and lay ¼ of a mile East of where the castle now stands.  In the civil war, the Cholmondeley family were staunch supporters of the Royalist cause and with its location between the Royalist stronghold of Chester and Parliamentarian Nantwich, Cholmondeley Hall was besieged several times.  It was finally battered into surrender in 1644.  Lord Cholmondeley was elsewhere when it capitulated but the estates were sequestered and rents diverted into the parliamentary coffers.

Fortunes for the family improved when the 1st Earl of Cholmondeley joined other noble men in support of William of Orange at the ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688.  In 1708 he was appointed Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household and shortly afterwards, Treasurer.

The Hall

Perhaps to reflect his position the Earl decided to rebuild Cholmondeley Hall on a grand scale, possibly to the designs of Vanburgh in 1701.  The Old Hall was encased in the classical style and extensive formal gardens created of which only the Canal to the North of the Hall survives.

Formal Gardens

George London the great gardener and nurseryman was contracted for the creation of the new gardens.  He is well known for designing the gardens at Chatsworth, Blenheim, Badminton and Kensington Palace.

The gardens laid out around the ‘old Hall’ have a complex history and were begun some time before the ‘Hall’ was built, in the late 1680’s and a number of designers were involved.  The plans of gardens and houses published in Vitruvius Britannicus, Volume 1, 1717 show the whole vast layout with its walks, allees, areas of wilderness, grove, parterres, basin and canals.

Several artists and craftsmen with International reputation supplied features for the gardens.  Records include reference to Jean Tijou for the order of iron gates in 1665, as well as a letter Van Nost wrote to Lord Cholmondeley referring to the laying of pipes for a new fountain in the gardens and to 16 new lead statues proposed for the grounds in 1701, “In my judgment they ought to be 4ft high without plinth or pedestal. I think the 12 months of the year to be expressed and the 4 elements may do very well”.

In 1720 Robert Bakewell agreed to make “three pairs of iron gates and a pair of iron railings for the bridge”.  The largest of the gates were to 17ft wide. He also supplied the gate and screen for the entrance court to the north of the ‘new’ Hall in 1722.

The 4th Earl brought in William Emes, a designer of National importance to redesign the Parkland, that was located a mile to the South of the Old Hall. Primarily concerned with planting, landscaping and fencing, Emes’s proposal at the time details trees already received at the park, 6,000 Beech, 3,000 Sycamore, 4800 Spanish Chestnut, 6,000 Elm, 3000 Oak, 3200 Chestnut and 9000 Scotch Pine!

The Castle

In 1801, George James, 4th Earl of Cholmondeley was responsible for the demolition of the Hall and the erection of a comparatively small ‘gothick villa’, designed by local architect William Turner of Whitchurch.  The villa was subsequently extended in 1817–1819, perhaps to celebrate his accession to the Marquisate, but it was not until 1828 that several additional towers/turrets designed by Sir Robert Smirke were added to the structure to make it the Castle we see today. Bakewell’s white screen gates were moved from the old Hall to their current position on the Castle and Chapel drives.

Castle Grounds-John Webb a student of Emes designed the terrace around the castle that you see today. During the 20th century, Lady Cholmondeley together with her late husband, the 6th Marquess has played a huge part in restoring and developing the gardens which are justifiably renowned for their romantic beauty. The gardens have been extensively replanted since the 1960s under Lady Cholmondeley’s direction and provide a lovely mix of height and colour, also featuring many beautiful specimen trees including Cedars of Lebanon, Oak, and Chestnut, all nestled amongst herbaceous borders, shrubberies, ponds, lakes and the beautiful Temple Garden.  Careful planting has made it a garden for all seasons, to be enjoyed all year round with a wealth of plants, shrubs and bulbs, interlaced with paths and walkways that make exploration a must.

The gardens that surround the castle are open to the public and are available for visitors to enjoy during this weekend.  Please note that the castle is a private residence of the Cholmondeley family and is not open to the public.

The Office of Lord Great Chamberlain-One of the Great Officers of State, the Lord Great Chamberlain is responsible for Royal affairs in the Palace of Westminster. He is not to be confused with the Lord Chamberlain, who is responsible for The Queen's Household and based at Buckingham Palace. On ceremonial occasions, such as the State Opening of Parliament, the Lord Great Chamberlain and the Earl Marshal are responsible for meeting The Queen when she arrives at Parliament, and ensuring her wellbeing while in Parliament.

The Lord Great Chamberlain has jurisdiction, entrusted by the Sovereign, for areas of the Palace of Westminster which are not administered by the House of Lords and House of Commons. These are primarily the Royal Robing Room and the Royal Gallery. He has joint control with the Speakers of the two Houses, for Westminster Hall and the Crypt Chapel.

The title is hereditary. After constant disputes, the House of Lords decided in 1902 that the office was jointly vested in the families of the Marquessate of Cholmondeley, the Earldom of Ancaster and the Marquessate of Lincolnshire.

King Edward VII agreed that the post should be held in turn for the duration of a reign. The office is currently held by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley.

For further information about Cholmondeley Garden opening times please visit the Castle website, or contact Dilys on 01829720383.

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