Henbury Hall, Macclesfield
Mrs Sebastian de Ferranti
It is difficult to decide whether the house or the garden at Henbury Hall is more remarkable. The house was built in 1984-1986, a collaboration between the owner Sebastian de Ferranti, the architect, Julian Bicknell, and the artist Felix Kelly. It is a reinterpretation of Palladio’s Villa Rotonda for life in 20th century England. The 12 acre garden, whose origins belong to a former Hall, lies secretly in the lake-filled valley below the house. Occasional glimpses of the Palladian dome, arising from the banks of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Embothriums, Cornus, Parottia and Magnolias, which are interspersed with maples and birches, give the garden a dream-like quality.
A Chinese bridge designed by Felix Kelly at one end of the lake, is echoed by an oriental pavilion at the other, while a gothic ruin sits among mounds of Gunnera. On the far side of the lake long glasshouses, containing a collection of figs frame the entrance to a large kitchen garden. During the morning we will visit both the house and the garden.
Biddulph Old Hall, Biddulp
Nigel Daly Esq and Brian Vowles Esq
The history of Biddulph Old Hall is long, involved and fascinating. It is a house with remarkable connections, to the Pre-Raphaelites, the Cotswold Arts and Crafts Movement and, most splendidly of all, to the gardens of Ninfa. The original building was a Tudor hall house, which was greatly extended by the Biddulph family in the 1580s when they built “a statelike and fair house of stone”. The new house was besieged by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War and suffered extensive damage. The Biddulph family retreated back into the old house, and remained until the house was bought by James Bateman, the creator of the celebrated garden at Biddulph Grange. His son, Robert, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, lived at Biddulph Old Hall. After many decades of neglect, the house was bought by Nigel Daly and Brian Vowles, who have stabilised the ruins, planting a garden inside the walls appropriately reminiscent of Ninfa (Ada Caetani who initiated the planting of Ninfa was Robert Bateman’s cousin) and, magically, have restored the old hall. While doing all of this, Nigel has also written a book about Robert Bateman. We will be shown around both the old and new halls by Nigel and Brian, who will explain the history of both.