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EXPLORING TATTON OLD HALL
by
Mark Olly  
 
The Medieval market town of Knutsford

 
The vanished village of 'Tatton Green' on Tatton Park was not a nucleated village but a farming community of cottages and crofts with open fields strung along the also vanished 'Portstrete', which connected the very ancient place of worship at Rostherne with the Medieval market town of Knutsford.

The greatest concentration of buildings however, developed in front of the outer wall of the Old Hall and a continuation of 'manor house' development can probably be implied from the Anglo Saxon long house found there to the early Medieval Old Hall, a possible gap of only a few hundred years during the Norman period.


Tatton Old Hall
 

The Old Hall

 
At first glance Tatton Old Hall is an undistinguished red brick farm house with a stone slab roof set within plain grounds except for a reconstructed crook-timber hay barn and a small visitor centre.

There has come to light, however, sufficient architectural and structural evidence to show that it was once probably completely a timber framed manor house of some significant substance.

This almost certainly represents the manorial seat of Richard De Massey who was Lord of the Manor of Tatton in the late thirteenth century (about 1250 AD to 1300 AD) and owner of the huge game hunting park which surrounded it. He also had a knight stationed at Dunham Castle at this time on his behalf.

Probably the most significant surviving feature is the ornate roof structure over what is now a reconstructed late Medieval Lord's Hall complete with central hearth, tapestries, top table, straw beds and straw floor covering.

A date of the 15th century (1400 Ad to 1500 AD) has been ascribed to this roof structure and much of the rest of the hall survives in original 16th and 17th century style (1500 AD to 1700 AD).


Tatton Old Hall Medieval Roof
 

The estate passed to the Egerton family


The estate passed to the Egerton family in 1598 AD (and remained in their care until it was given to the National Trust in 1958 AD). The main hall, ornate roof and other features located and perceived by archaeologists suggest that the building was once a house of considerable importance, having an 'E' shape with two wings and an entrance porch (similar to Lymm Hall) or a 'U' shape, and facing the green of 'Tatton Green' village.

An inventory of 1614 AD held at Cheshire County Records Office lists Tatton Old Hall as follows: "Parlour, Greate Parlour, Greate Chamber, Brewhouse (for pickles and preserves), Buttery and House" with a "Work House (workshop ?), Pottery Kiln and Mill". There would also have been barns, out-buildings, possibly a yard and stables.

Strangely, it is not known when the Lords of Tatton (the Breretons or Egertons) moved to the site of the new Tatton Hall but it was probably in the late seventeenth century (1650 AD to 1700 AD). Right: inside Tatton Old Hall

The cellar under the library has a date stone of 1718 AD and the dining room is in a style of about 1750 AD. The new house was finally begun in about 1788 AD to 1791 AD.
 

Iron, Romano-British & Celtic Dark Ages

 
Tatton Green' was demolished during the landscaping of the park in 1791 AD under William Egerton and the hall was completed in 1807 AD under Wilbraham Egerton.

The Old Hall was then used to house the Game Keeper who tended the deer in Tatton Park which are said to be descended from the original forest stock of the area and an interesting tale persists of 18th century deer stealing (1700 AD to 1800 AD).

It is said that the foresters of Tatton once chased a poacher to his cottage near Swanbrook Hollow but, though they searched the house throughout from top to bottom, they could not find a trace of the dead deer.

Left: Tatton Old Hall's Medieval Roof

Much disgruntled they rode off and, when they were well and truly out of sight, the poacher removed the dead deer from the cradle which his wife had been gently rocking as though to lull their child to sleep!



 
ARTICLE ADAPTED FROM: CELTIC WARRINGTON & OTHER MYSTERIES -
VOLUME TWO: EAST TO SOUTH. MARK OLLY. CHURNET VALLEY BOOKS,
43 Bath Street, Leek, Staffs. (01538) 399033.

 
© The contents of the 'Archaeology' section are copyright and may not be used without permission.

 

 

 
Why not take a guided tour of the Tatton Old Hall see our Tatton Park page for more details.