Ginny’s Blog – Blakemere’s history – The early years…
Although Blakemere Hall was a grand and significant building in the area it has had a rather unstable and interesting past.
It was built in 1878 by Lord Barclay Paget, the son of the 2nd Marquis of Anglesey. This is quite coincidental as I personally have quite an affinity with Anglesey having spent time during my 20’s and 30’s staying there with family – in fact I remember many glorious summer days in Treaddur Bay, beachcombing on its beautiful beaches.
The Paget family built a very imposing three-story hall at Blakemere with a smoking room, billiard room with huge inglenook fireplace and even a bathing pool! My mother, Jackie, remembers the hall and described how it had central heating with an array of huge pipes located beneath the floor covered with metal grids. It also had a special first floor galleried room, where the gentlemen could look down and place wagers on cock-fighting staged in the Cock Pit below – something that would never happen in this day and age!
Lord Paget and his wife never actually lived at Blakemere, however they used it as a country retreat, enjoying the hunting and socialising in this part of Cheshire. There are many stories that Edward VII, when he was Prince of Wales, stayed here, hunting with Lord Paget. Travelling as Mr Peters he is reputed to have regally entertained an entourage of young ladies at raucous gatherings at Blakemere Hall – in fact local joiners were often called in to repair damaged furniture following one of his notorious parties!
Lord Paget sold Blakemere Hall to Walter Jones, a millionaire business man, in the late 1800’s. It was Mr Jones who built the stables with its central cobbled courtyard in 1896 to house his polo ponies for the princely sum of £4,000 – equivalent to about a million pounds today! Walter Jones must have been eccentric as he had the grounds carefully landscaped so that from his sitting room window he could take pot-shots at a full-sized model of a deer, set on wheels and pulled around by his poor butler!
During the 2nd World War Blakemere Hall was commandeered by British Military personnel and became one of many army bases in the area. Both British and American soldiers were based here along with Polish refugees, many freed from the infamous Colditz Prison. There is still a painted sign on a wall on the first-floor written in Polish!
The army erected a large bake house in the centre of the courtyard to supply all of the local camps in the area. British and American soldiers were at Blakemere before the great push towards D Day commenced. The Mid Cheshire District temporarily housed tens of thousands of GI’s, part of General Paton’s 3rd Army, and American Officers were certainly billeted to Blakemere Hall.
Sadly, after the war Blakemere Hall was in a sorry state and was demolished in the 1950’s by Wrights Demolition of Kelsall. They stripped the mullion windows, oak wood panelling and grand sweeping staircase from the hall and shipped it to a wealthy buyer in America. The remaining parts of the building were either dismantled or knocked down into the cellar, however a few pieces of the mullion windows were salvaged and are now in my home set on the site of the old hall.
It is rare for a Hall of this size to only remain standing for just over 70 years and sadly we have never managed to find any photographs of Blakemere Hall, so if you come across any please get in touch we would love to see them!