Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1160862.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2021 at 00:46:17.


Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cheshire West and Chester (Unitary Authority)
Whitegate and Marton
National Grid Reference:
SJ 63874 69861


WINSFORD FORMER U.D. VALE ROYAL PARK SJ 66 NW 6390 6985 4/115 Vale Royal Abbey 11.10.49 G.V. II* Country house, formerly abbey buildings. Begun in 1277 and extensively altered in the C16, C18 and C19. Founded by Edward I after 1263. The Cistercian community which he had established at Darnhall was moved here in 1277 and the building of this, the last Cistercian monastery complex in the country, started. The foundations of the abbey church which stood to the north-east of the present house reveal it to have been at c.420 ft the largest Cistercian church in the country, and unique in having thirteen chapels to its eastern end 7 of which were hexagonal. At the dissolution the site was sold in 1543 to Thomas Holcroft who 'plucked down' the abbey church and altered and extended the southern and western cloister ranges to form the house. In 1616 the house passed to the Cholmondeleys, whose family owned the house until 1947. The C19 work was carried out by Blore in the 1830 s and Douglas in the 1860 s and 70 s. Red sandstone ashlar and red Flemish bond brick with ashlar dressings and a slate roof. Entrance front: The central portion is a refacing of the range which originally contained the Abbot's hall and its undercroft. The short projecting wings at either side were constructed in 1796 (Lysons) and replaced larger structures. These have cross windows of the 1830 s to both floors with casement moulded surrounds and triple keystones, the first floor windows being taller and having ½-H aprons. To either side of the central windows are pilasters with moulded bases and capitals formed of three pieces of ashlar, and later, similar, pilasters occur to the corners formed of several courses of ashlar perhaps applied as late as the early C19. The ends of these wings each have a canted bay window of 3 central lights divided by mullions and transoms and single lateral lights divided by transoms. Battlemented parapets above these and C19 iron finials to the corners. The central range has seven bays divided by pilasters with projecting wings of 3 bays to either side. Central ground floor Gothick porch of 1823 and similar to one formerly set at first floor level above a flight of steps affording access to the great hall which was taken down in 1811. The porch has angle buttresses, a pointed arch, a battlemented parapet and shields to the upper walls of either side. The bay window above this is of 3 lights with mullions and two transoms and a battlemented parapet. The pilasters set at either side of the central bays are made up of several pieces of coursed stone and also appear to be of later date than those to the centre of the wings. To the right of the right hand wing is a recessed entrance porch and clock tower by Douglas of 1877 of brick with ashlar dressings. Lean-to ground floor porch with clock tower to right having ashlar clock stage supported on corbels and with a circular clock face within a square surround and a pyramidal roof. Right hand facade: dated 1860, the date of its last refacing in dressed brick and extension; adapted from a range of abbey buildings including the refectory, altered in the period of Holcroft's ownership. Partially refaced by Blore in the 1830 s it was further refaced by Douglas in the 1860 s in the same style as Blore's additions There is a recessed centre with projecting wings to either side. The centre has random fenestration of 2 and 3-light mullioned and transomed windows to the ground and first floors with a bowed oriel to the extreme left of the first floor. Slightly projecting gable to the right of centre with 2 single-light ground floor windows and two 2-light first floor windows with coats of arms below and date stones above encompassed in the same hood mould. Single lancet to gable. All windows have ashlar surrounds. Chimney stack at right with offset to left and 3 flues above. To the left of this recessed portion is a projecting portion - the outer face of which has a gable at the right with a first-floor bowed oriel supported on an offset buttress. To the far left is a single storey conservatory of later date with a heavy stone coping, the inner face of this projection has an oriel at first floor level with a gable above. To the far right is a further projection of 3 bays by Blore being a rebuilding of a similarly shaped timber-framed wing of post-monastic date. Three-light ground and first floor windows with a central first floor oriel supported on brackets with a hipped roof and 2-light second floor window with hood moulds and 3 single-light windows to the gables. The inner side of this projection has two and three-light mullioned and transomed windows. The rear of this range is similar in the type and distribution of bays to the garden front save that a gabled 2-storey C19 wing has been added to right of centre. The rear of the entrance front is faced in ashlar and has two massive projecting rectangular chimney stacks between which is a projecting rectangular bay with a 3-light arched window to the ground floor and a first floor window above of 3 lights with mullions and transoms. To either side are low arched windows of 4 lights with first floor windows over of 4 x 6 panes. To the right of this arrangement is a further low arched window of 4 arched lights (all these low arched windows are reputedly cloister openings although they appear to have been altered in the C18 and C19). To the right again is an arched porchway supporting an oriel window with canted corners and a central bow with a hipped and conical roof of copper by Douglas of 1877. Interior: The northern wing originally contained the Abbots hall and Great Chamber divided by a screens passage and set above an undercroft. The eastern wing contained the refectory, also above an undercroft. The refectory was altered by Holcroft to form a range of 4 apartments with 4-centred doorways leading off a corridor and the abbots hall was altered by the Cholmondeleys prior to 1811 to form a series of state rooms, comprising the Armoury, Great Hall and Library. Both these halls were served by a kitchen of two stories to the angle of the two ranges in the same place as the present ground floor kitchen which has chamfered C17 ceiling beams and a basket arched wide hearth with lateral basket arched openings. Also at ground floor level are the cloister corridor with early C19 Gothick plaster vaulting and of T-shape, (the downstroke being an entrance corridor from the Gothick porchway which retains the massive C16 door which prior to 1811 opened to the hall at first floor level). Leading from this corridor to the first floor is a staircase with spiral twist balusters and heavy newel posts of late C17 form. This leads up to the armoury which is formed from part of the Great Chamber and has two panelled door surrounds of 1811 with steep pediments above. The great hall has 5 ceiling bays with half bays to either end indicating the division in the C18 or C19. Each truss consists of a pair of arched braces resting on hammer beams with C19 wall posts below. The hammer beams would appear to replace tie beams and marks in the lower sides of the arched braces indicate possible vertical struts connecting the braces to the tie beam. Brattished wooden cornice and double wind bracing of C19 date with 4 purlins. Applied to the plasterwork of the ceiling are a series of armigerous shields relating the marriages of the Cholmondeley family and dated 1868 which replaced an earlier similarly painted ceiling of 1824. The library has a wooden door surround of C17 date and German with columns to either side carved with trails of foliage in relief. Broken elaborate pediment above. The chimney piece has twisted columns to either side encircled by rich floral swags and with birds of prey also in relief. The dining room in the south-western wing has dado panelling of C19 date and an C18 door surround with Corinthian columns to either side of a 6-panel door with swags and a head in profile to the overdoor and a pediment above this with a shell and rinceau ornament to the frieze and enriched cornice above. The eastern wing has C16 small framed walling to the imposed corridor. The corridor shows the original C16 outside wall with chevron decorated timber-framing, a 4-light mullioned and transomed window and a tall doorway with 4-centered head, probably monastic and giving access from the day stairs. The studded partition is an insertion into the monastic refectory and has one original doorway, now blocked. The roof timbers of this refectory range which are evident in the corridor and to the attic have deep bird beak mouldings. The roof consists of 5 bays subdivided by further minor cross beams and ridge and purlins which are similarly moulded into roughly square panels and appear to have had roof bosses now removed. Dendrochronology has revealed the date of the timbers as c.1470.

Sources: Nicholas Pevsner & - The Buildings of England: Edward Hubbard Cheshire

George Ormerod - History of the County Palatine and (Ed. Helsby) City of Chester 1882

Henrietta Cholmondeley - Account Book. Alterations. Buildings. Purchases and Improvements at Vale Royal Abbey since 17/12/1810. Cheshire County Records Office DBC Acc 2309 Box 1/11

Listing NGR: SJ6387469861


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Cholmondeley, H, Alterations Buildings Purchases and Improvements at Vale Royal Abbey since 170
Ormerod, G, The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester: Volume 1, (1882)
Pevsner, N, Hubbard, E, The Buildings of England: Cheshire, (1971)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 09 Aug 2002
Reference: IOE01/07783/17
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr John Riley. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].