LITTLE MORETON HALL
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- LITTLE MORETON HALL, CONGLETON ROAD
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- Statutory Address:
- LITTLE MORETON HALL, CONGLETON ROAD
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cheshire East (Unitary Authority)
- Odd Rode
- National Grid Reference:
- SJ 83246 58897, SJ 83249 58922
ODD RODE C.P. (Off) CONGLETON ROAD
SJ 85 NW
7/79 Little Moreton Hall
6.6.52 (formerly listed as Moreton Old
Country house. Early C15-c.1600. Timber framed with rendered infill and Flemish bond brick with a stone slate roof. Two and three storeys. The ranges of buildings are grouped around three sides of a courtyard. The present agglomerated appearance of the building is the result of at least seven builds. The eastern wing (including the present parlour and withdrawing room) was built prior to 1450 and included a great hall on the site of the present parlour and withdrawing room, together with service rooms. The present great hall was built c.1450 and the former hall converted to service rooms. In c.1480 the west wing was built incorporating new service rooms, thus creating an H-shaped plan. The former service range was converted to other uses. In 1559 the bay windows were added to the hall (which was divided into two floors at this time) and to the withdrawing room and room above it by Richard Dale. Between 1559 and 1570 a further range was added to the eastern wing including the chapel. The south wing of 3 storeys, including the guests' hall and long gallery, was added c.1570-80 and a further range of service rooms added to the north-western corner of this in c.1600. Northern Front (to Garden): The gable-end at left which is of the earliest portion has small framing with chevron infill to the ground and first floor and decorative quatrefoils to the gable. The first floor and gable are jettied with moulded bressumers. To the ground floor are two C18 sash windows, to left and right of which are 2-light casement windows. Casement window to the first floor of 6 lights. At left of this wing and slightly recessed is a 2-storey garderobe which has a 3-light casement window to the ground floor. Immediately to the left of the wing is a massive chimney stack of English bond brick of c.1480 which has at mezzanine level a bee-bole or light well with pointed arch and a 2-light window to its back. To the top are 4 diamond-shaped chimney stacks of C18 or early C19 brick. To right are the windows of the great hall range having at ground floor level windows of 4 and 6 lights with a transom and to the former first floor windows of 3 and 7 lights, set in small-framed walling. To right again is a projecting C17 porch with close-studded curved walling and a plank door at left and mezzanine staircase window of two lights to right. The projecting wing of c.1480 to right of this has studding with chevron infill to the ground floor and a window of 8 lights with transom in a projecting moulded surround. The coved jetty beneath the gable has decorative panels with quatrefoil infill. Both first floor and gable have quatrefoil panels to their walling and the first floor has an oriel window with coved jetty of 8 lights with moulded mullions and transom and single blocked lights to the sides. The corner posts of both projecting wings on this front are decorated and these and the false jetty between the ground and first floors appear to be additions of c.1559-70 designed to relate the old parts to the new alterations of the courtyard front. The Eastern Front (to Moat):is of three builds, the earlier portion of c.1450 being at right. This has to its far right a garderobe tower with chevron infill to both floors. At left of this is further chevron infill to both floors, the ground floor having an C18 sash window at right of 4 x 6 panes, to left of which are a 2-light and a single-light window. The first floor has a five-light and a 3-light window divided by a king-mullion and having a transom. To left again is a chimney stack of random bond brick with diapered diamond patterns of blue brick which probably dates from the alterations of 1559 and has 2 flues. To left of this is a C19 ground floor window of 6 lights with a transom and to the first floor a window of 8 lights also with transom. The portion to left of this dates from 1559-70. It too has chevron infill. To far left is a 2-light first floor window and immediately at left of this is a garderobe tower which has 2-light mullioned windows to the ground and first floors of its right flank. At left of this are a single-light ground floor window with a 2-light casement above and at left again a chimney stack of C18 or C19 date built of Red English garden wall bond brick with offsets to the sides and two flues. The chapel chancel which projects at far left has a pointed arched window of five lights with chamfered wooden mullions which projects upwards into the coved jetty of the gable. To left again andrecessed is the end of the southern range built c.1600. This has two sloping buttresses to the ground floor of C18 or C19 date which rise to support the first floor oriel window and partially mask the small-framing to the ground floor walling and the central window which is blocked save for 3 lights to the upper right hand corner. The first floor is jettied with a coving below divided by ovolo-moulded curved timbers which here have a moulded fascia board below the moulded bressumer. The first floor has chevron infill and an oriel with coved jetty of 7 lights with 2 transoms. Further jetty above this. The long gallery has half gables to either side and small framing with quadrant infill and a central oriel window of six blocked lights with two transoms. The gable above again has a coved jetty and quadrant infill to the gable which has moulded bargeboards and decorative pendants to the corners. The western side has to its centre the courtyard. The range to left of this is of c.1480 and has two chimneybreasts of C16 English bond brick, that at left having blue brick diapering in diamond patterns and one offset to the top. It is capped by one square flue with corrugated faces. The chimney breast at right diminishes in girth via offsets and has a blocked doorway at left. Between these is small-framed walling with chevron infill. To the ground floor is a C18 sash window at right and a casement window at left and to the first floor is a 2-light casement window at right. To right of centre are two blocked doors to a garderobe which has now been removed. The range to right of the courtyard is of two phases, that at right being of c.1600 and that at left the latest building of c.1630. At right is chevron infill to the ground floor walling with one 6-light casement window with transom, a coved jetty below the first floor divided into panels by moulded uprights. The first floor also has chevron patterned infill and quatrefoils to the upper panels at either side of the central oriel window which is supported by a coved jetty and has 6 lights and two transoms. The second floor has half-gables with quadrant infill to either side of the central oriel window which is of 6 lights and similar to the first floor window. Jettied gable above also with infill of quadrants with pendants suspended from the corners. To left of this the addition of c.1630 has small-framing and chevron strutting with one first floor window of 5 lights and a ground floor doorway at right. The South Front (to Moat): has a projecting gabled porch wing at right with 5-centre arched openings approached across the moat by an ashlar bridge which is of single span with a pointed arch and moulded coping. The entrance archway at ground floor level of the porch wing has a rectangular entrance with moulded posts to either side decorated with cable motifs, rinceau scrollwork ornament and capitals decorated with foliate drops. The first floor has two rows of trefoil-headed panels to its lower body, some with decoration to the spandrels and ovolo-moulded surrounds. Above these is a window of 5 lights with 2 transoms to either side of which are panels of small-framing with quatrefoil infill. The corner posts have cable moulding and capitals similar to those at ground floor level. The second floor also has a row of trefoil-headed panels to its lower body above which is an oriel window of 7 lights with 2 transoms, to either side of which are cells with quadrant infill. The gable has a coved jetty, quadrant infill, decorated bargeboards and decorated pendants to the corners. The sides of this porch wing have chevron, quatrefoil and quadrant infill to the three floors. To right in the re-entrant angle is a chimney-breast of red brick with diamond patterns of blue brick diapering. This has an offset at first floor level and a cogged band. To its top is a corrugated diamond-shaped chimney stack. To right of this the ground and first floor walling has chevron infill and one row of quatrefoils. Both floors have a coved jetty. Above the first floor is a portion of roofing which rises to the level of the sill of the long gallery window which is here of seven panes. To right again and recessed is the range of 1559 which has chevron infill and a ground floor window at left, of six lights with a transom. The C19 oriel to the first floor above this is of 6 lights with a transom. The gable above has chevron strutting. The chancel at right and slightly recessed is of lesser height. To left of the porch wing the walling is of small-framing with chevron infill as seen at right. Immediately to left of the porch is a ground floor window of 6 lights which is probably of C19 date and to the first floor above is a 3-light casement. To left of this is a garderobe tower which has windows of 3 lights with chamfered mullions to both floors at either side. To left again at ground floor level are a 4-light window, a 5-light window with transom and a 3-light window and to the first floor is a 5-light window with transom. The jetty below the roof is coved and this roof rises to the level of the sill of the long gallery window which is here of 32 lights divided into rows of 7 lights by king mullions leaving 4 lights at right. As elsewhere the jetty below the roof is coved. The Courtyard to its northern face has the projecting wing of c.1480 at left which has chevron infill to the ground floor, a plank door at left of centre with casement windows of 3 and 4 lights to left and right respectively with transoms. Above the door is an elongated porch with close studded walling with middle rail supported on angle brackets and to right of this is a coved jetty which dies back to the walling of the first floor via a slate roof immediately rather than supporting the first floor. This, together with the added corner posts, appears to be an addition of c.1559-70 which, together with the similar H-shaped addition on the northern gable end of this wing, was designed to tie the new alterations in with the old fabric. The first floor has no windows and chevron-patterned infill. The gable is jettied with quatrefoils to the coving and chevron infill to the gable. The right hand side of this wing has chevron infill to the ground floor and a window of 9 lights with transom. The first floor has a range of colonettes, with quatrefoils between, below the coved jetty of the first floor oriel which has 8 lights with a transom and single lights to the sides, with a gable above. The Porch of the Great Hall has richly moulded timbers to either side of the 4-centered doorway with rope motifs and foliage, above which are two rows of pillarettes supporting an oriel window similar to that at left. At right of this is a portion of recessed walling with a ground floor window of 3 lights. To right again are the pair of semi-octagonal bay windows which project from the great hall and withdrawing room at ground floor level and are jettied out and join at first floor level. Each face of these windows has 3 lights at ground floor level, divided by two transoms. The oriel windows at first floor level have coved jetties and windows of 5 and 3 lights with single transoms. Above each face is a gable, immediately below which are decoratively moulded facing-boards around which runs the inscription "God is Al in Al Thing: This windous whire made by William Moreton in the yeare of oure Lorde M.D.LIX". Below the coving of the right hand window is inscribed "Richarde Dale Carpeder. Made/Thies Windous By the grac of GOD". To the re-entrant angle between these windows at ground floor level is the earlier 4-centered doorway to the hall, now blocked. The Eastern Range has small framing with chevron infill. There are three doorways, those at right and left having 4-centered arches and that between having a flat lintel, and two 3-light casement windows. To the first floor at left are two windows of 3 and 4 lights divided by a king mullion and having a transom. To right are two oriel windows of 5 and 4 lights. The Southern Range has the gatehouse entry at left of centre with panels of foliate ornament and figures in relief. Chevron strutting to the ground floor with a 4-centered arch at right. Coved jetty below the first floor subdivided into panels by carved vertical timbers. The first floor has chevron infill with quatrefoils to the upper body. At left is an oriel window with coved jetty of 7 lights with 2 transoms and a gable above. To right of this are a 3-light and 5-light window. The long gallery at second floor level projects upwards from the lower building and has one continuous strip of glazing divided into windows of 7 lights by king mullions which correspond with the trusses. To right of centre is a gabled staircase wing which projects forwards to be flush with the walling of the first floor. This has quadrant infill and a window of 7 lights with transom and a gablet above. The projecting wing of 1630 has to its left hand side brick walling to the ground floor and a 4-light window to the first floor. The north face has a 4-centered doorway at left and two single-light windows to the ground floor and chevron infill to the first floor. Above this is a coved jetty set with arched openings to a dovecote. Interior: Hall Range: The Hall is approached from the Screens Passage which has a floor of stone flags. The western wall has chevron-strutting to its upper body and two 4-centred service doors and a panel of diagonally-braced infill to its lower body, which was altered at the time of the addition of the west wing in c.1480. The Hall is of two bays with a central truss supported on moulded wall posts which also support hefty moulded arch braces which rise to connect with a collar, the under-side of which is also moulded. The two sets of purlins are chamfered and each has wind bracing. To the west of this is a minor truss, with similarly moulded principals springing from the wall-plate to a moulded collar. At around 1480 when the new service rooms were built in the west wing, the position of the screens passage was removed from the eastern end to the west and the speer trusses were added or transferred here. These rise to meet the lower purlins and have similar mouldings to those of the trusses. In c.1559 the hall was divided by the insertion of a floor and all the fenestration was altered in consequence. The five-sided bay window by Richard Dale was added to the southern wall and the ground floor window at right of it, and the ground and first floor windows of the north wall, all with richly-moulded mullions and transoms. At first floor level a wall was added between the speers with a doorway at right forming a passage of the former gallery. At the same time a brick chimney stack was added at the east of the northern wall with a moulded ashlar surround at ground floor level and a small 2-light window at first floor level. At some time in the late C16 or early C17 oak panelling was added to the ground floor room with moulded surrounds to the panels and a shallow wooden cornice. Prior to 1809 the floor was removed and the bay window at first floor level and the doorway between the speers were both blocked off. East wing The Parlour (originally one of the service rooms) was panelled in the C18 with raised and fielded oak panels with a wooden cornice above. This has been partially removed to reveal small-framed walls over which have been pasted sheets of paper painted in simulation of painted wooden panelling dating from c.1580. Above these is a decorated frieze with arabesque ornament, including the Moreton coat of arms and above that are similar sheets with paintings of the story of Susanna and the Elders with accompanying texts in Gothic script. One of the original service doors with a 4-centred head can be seen in the western wall, also overlayed with painting. The sash windows retain their window seats and shutters and there is a bolection moulded fire surround of ashlar. Between the parlour and withdrawing room is a short passage with a spiral staircase set in a square well. The Withdrawing Room (also originally one of the service rooms) was greatly altered during the work of 1559. From this time dates the 5-sided bay window, similar to that in the hall, the oak panelling with richly-moulded surround and the mullioned and transomed windows in the eastern wall. The overmantel of ashlar shows terms at either side of a rectangular panel bearing the coat of arms of Elizabeth I. This is also of c.1559, but the hearth below was altered in the C18 and has clustered shafts to either side of an ogee-arched fireplace with rococo foliage in relief above. The ceiling divided by richly-moulded timbers into square and rectangular panels probably also dates from this period. The first floor room above the parlour has simple C17 panelling and a ceiling inserted in the C17 above which are the arch-braced trusses of the original roof. The first floor room above the withdrawing room is similarly panelled and has a similar overmantel to that of the drawing room with, in this case, a brattished shelf. The bay window, canted out above the ground floor level, is blind at right and has a doorway in the right hand angle which connects with the similarly overhanging bay window of the hall, which now forms a self-contained room but originally led to the first floor above the hall. West Wing (c.1480) The Tea-room, Kitchen and Shop are formed out of the range of service rooms for the Hall, the Shop being the original kitchen, and having a massive chimney of brick with 4-centred arch. There is a similar small hearth in the Tea-room. The internal dividing walls here, as elsewhere in the house, are of close studding with a middle rail. The ceiling beams throughout the three rooms are chamfered with end stops, and the central beam in the Tea-room is supported on wall posts. The first floor rooms above the service rooms are approached by a spiral staircase within a rectangular well which leads off the screens passage. This leads to the upper passage which is within the hall range (q.v.) and was originally the gallery beyond the speers and above the screens passage. To the upper western wall is a portion of coving indicating the canopy over the high table prior to the reversal of 1480. The southern end of this passage, including the area above the porch, was divided by a wall of close studding c.1559. The room thus formed shows signs of considerable alteration, particularly in the area of the windows which appear to have been raised and canted out at the same time as the building of the 5-sided bay windows by Richard Dale, indeed early C19 prints of the house show the window above the porch to have had decorative fascia boards similar to those on Dale's windows, and it may well be that all are by him. The room above the shop has another of these types of window, also, from internal evidence, a later alteration of the original. The internal walls here as below are of close studding with a middle rail. The room over the Tea-room has a massive brick chimney piece with brattished overmantel and gablets of moulded brick above the lateral piers. The central truss is arch braced and the two sets of purlins have cusped wind bracing. East Wing extension c.1559-70 The two rooms at ground floor level, now used as exhibition space, are divided by a close-studded wall. The northern room has a square stairwell enclosing a spiral staircase which is approached from the courtyard and the southern room has a brick fireplace. The Chapel is of single storey height with close-studded walling and chamfered ceiling beams. It is divided from the Chancel, which is narrower and of 1½ storeys, by a screen of chamfered vertical timbers. The north and west walls are decorated with texts taken from the Tyndale Bible and surrounded by decorative borders filled with arabesques. The first floor rooms above the Chapel and exhibition rooms have dividing walls of chevron strutting. The southern room or prayer room has a C19 window at its southern end and C17 oak panelling to its walls which mask the wall posts and arched braces which run up to join the trusses, also hidden by the imposition of a canted ceiling. A portion of close studded walling divides the room from the upper part of the chancel into which a window or squint previously looked, but now is blocked. South Wing c.1570-80 The Corn Store has an undefined earlier function, possibly the gate-keeper's room. To its southern wall is a massive brick chimney. In the C17 it was subdivided by a grid of storage bins, similar to animal stalls. The first floor rooms are reached by a spiral staircase set in a rectangular well. The Guest's Hall has small-framed walling and is subdivided by a wooden screen with openings to its upper body. The ceiling is divided into square compartments by moulded beams, beneath which are large consoles richly carved with spiral and leaf decoration. A doorway and a flight of steps connect this room with the Prayer Room of the East Wing Extension (q.v.). The Guest's Parlour is partially panelled with C17 oak panelling one section of which slides back to reveal a door to a later room, built in c.1600 and apparently used in the C18 or C19 as a cheese room or store. Rooms on this floor of the south wing have lime-ash floors on oak boarding. The second floor Long Gallery is of 8 bays divided by wall posts supporting arched braces which rise to connect with moulded collars. The lower walls and lower portions of these braces have been encased behind C17 panelling; and further strengthening collar-beams and iron tie-rods have been added. Between each wall-post are windows of 7 lights with transoms. The ceiling has cusped quadrant wind-bracing and to either gable end are panels of pargetting with rinceau ornament surrounding central figures of Destiny and Fortune taken from the 1556 edition of the Castle of Knowledge by Robert Recorde. The Upper Porch Room off the Long Gallery has C17 panelling and a richly moulded ashlar chimneypiece with a canted arch which has tapered pilasters to either side, an arabesque frieze above and an overmantel with a square central panel with gadrooned border enclosing the Moreton arms in relief with Caryatids to either side and a band of rinceau in the frieze. Famous for its picturesque effect on calendars, Little Moreton Hall has an outstanding historical interest. The layout and accommodation admirably reflects the type for a moated late-medieval courtyard manor-house arrived at through a process of gradual growth. The present form is the result of a series of building campaigns throughout the C15 and C16, but since 1600 little has been added, save for some C17 and C18 panelling and several C18 and C19 windows. Restoration has been undertaken with cautious restraint. In addition, the building history of the house is recorded both on the fabric and in documentation. This provides the historian with both a chronicle of variations and development of building practices and, contrarily, illustrates the cautious way in which succeeding carpenters copied the patterns of their predecessors. One illustration is the moulding seen on the arch braces of the Hall roof of c.1450, again in the Withdrawing Room ceiling of c.1559 and in the ceiling of the Guest's Hall of c.1600. The same desire to tie-in new work with old is reflected by the applied ornament on the northern and southern faces of the West Wing, probably added in c.1559, to imitate the coved overhangs seen on the bay windows of that date. The house would have very considerable interest if it only partially survived. The fact that its plan is complete and its fabric so little disturbed makes this one of the most outstanding buildings in the County.
Sources: George Ormerod - History of Cheshire, Vol.III, London, 1819
Nikolaus Pevsner & - Buildings of England: Edward Hubbard Cheshire London 1971
Julian Gibbs - National Trust Guide Book, 1984. [ Little Moreton Hall
Listing NGR: SJ8325158924
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Books and journals
Ormerod, G, History of Cheshire, (1819)
Pevsner, N, Hubbard, E, The Buildings of England: Cheshire, (1971)
Recorde, R , Castle of Knowledge, (1556)
Gibbs, J, 'National Trust Guide' in Little Moreton Hall, (1984)
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