Bidston Hall

Focus Point 11 on the Heritage Trail

As you approach Bidston Hall from the east side, you can see the Loggia. Loggia is the name given to an architectural feature. Originally of Italian design, they are often found on the facade of a building and open to the air on one side, where they are supported by columns or pierced openings in the wall. Linking the original wings of the hall, the Loggia actually looks much like a veranda. It was added in the 1620s probably under the direction of William Stanley, the 6th Earl. The rest of the house was built around 1595 by the same masons as Thornycroft Hall (another famous and beautiful stately home in Cheshire) by Henry, the 4th Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby. The Hall has had an unusual past, being seized in the civil war when the 7th Earl, James, refused to recognize Cromwell’s authority and fled to the Isle of Man, also owned by the family, to carry on the fight to re-instate the monarchy. This backfired on him as he was beheaded at Bolton in 1651.

The estate and title passed to Earl James’s eldest son Charles, Lord Strange and 8th Earl of Derby who had accompanied his father to the muster on Preston Moor on June 20th 1642 at the tender age of 15. After his father’s execution the Earl and his Countess retired to Bidston Hall.

If you journey to the front of the hall you can see the amazing gateway that used to hold a picture of a pair of dice in the square of the gatepost, as the Stanleys were always trying to reclaim this individual, unique house back in a game of cards or dice, which is how they lost they land in the first place.

These are by no means the only scandals to be associated with the hall. One of the owners was meant to be part of the jury in the trial of Charles I. It is also recorded in the Hall’s history that one of Charles I illegitimate sons hatched a plotted to claim the throne from Bidston Hall. Scandal has been brewing for a number of years between the ‘Bard of Bidston’, Lord William Stanley, and another much more famous writer. It seems that William Shakespeare and Lord W. Stanley were once friends (Lord Stanley was even noted as the Bard’s Patron). However, it seems their relationship was less than a happy one. Shakespeare was invited into Stanley’s troupe of players and playwrights but it seems that Lord Stanley was not at all impressed by Shakespeare and remarked that the Bard “was not all he was made out to be”. He insisted that he had plagiarised Lord Stanley’s own work or that at the least Shakespeare had borrowed heavily from Lord Stanley’s experiences (unfortunately little of Stanley’s work can be found today, so comparison is difficult). Whatever the case it seems clear that by the end of their friendship there was no love lost between them.

For many years the house was used for farming. One of the Hall’s last tenant farmers, Mr Abe Poval, even kept cows in the great hall. The renovation began in the 1970’s by Mr Max Faulkner (who sadly died before this mammoth task was realised) and continues to the present. Mrs Kay took up the gauntlet in 2006.

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