There’s lots to see at Cholmondeley including the Temple and Folly Water Gardens, the Glade, the Rose Garden and the ornamental woodland garden at Tower Hill.
Don’t miss the recently created Lavinia Walk. Lady Lavinia Cholmondeley dedicated much of her life to developing the gardens and the 100m long double herbaceous border is dedicated to her.
Historic Houses members visit for free.
The Cholmondeley family have lived here since Norman times. In 1571 Sir Hugh Cholmondeley replaced the existing house with a timber–framed Elizabethan Hall surrounded by a moat. It was built by William Fawcomer and lay a quarter of a mile east of where the current Castle now stands.
The Cholmondeleys were Royalists and during the Civil War, the Castle was besieged several times until the family surrendered in 1644 and the estate was sequestered. The 1st Earl of Cholmondeley, a supporter of William of Orange and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ was rewarded for his loyalty by being made Comptroller of Her Majesty’s Household and later Treasurer.
In 1702, the London surveyor Robert Jones was apparently asked to refront the timber–framed house but five years later the commission was given to William Smith of Warwick. In 1712, Smith was replaced by John Vanbrugh although it is not known
how many of Vanbrugh’s ideas were implemented; much of the Hall was demolished in 1801 with the remains made into an estate house.
The gardens were redesigned after 1688, with the French gardener Lecocke working here until his death in 1691. George London replaced Lecocke and an agreement of 1694 includes details of the canal which was being built; this can still be seen 100m
north of the Old Hall.
John Van Nost supplied leadwork in 1695, while Jean Tijou was paid for creating some iron gates. The gardens were also illustrated in Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus in 1720.
Robert Bakewell designed the white screen gates c.1722. These were moved from the Old Hall to their current position on the Castle and Chapel drive.
After a period of neglect, the 4th Earl commissioned the local architect William Turner of Whitchurch to design the present castle of sandstone between 1801 and 1804 with further extensions made in 1817–19 and a new tower added to the south–east corner by Sir Robert Smirke in 1828.
The Earl employed William Emes to re–model the gardens into a landscape park with lakes and plantations in 1770s and the gardens were further developed by Emes’ pupil, John Webb, who probably designed the terrace around the house.
Nowadays the Cholmondeleys spend the majority of their time at their other family seat, Houghton Hall in Norfolk.