35 members and friends attended the third and final outing of the 2018 Summer Season which was to Tatton Park Mansion and Gardens near Knutsford, Cheshire. Although Tatton is a NT property, it is run and managed by Cheshire East Council. The weather forecast had not been not too promising but, on the day, it was warm and sunny. Our coach departed Melton and District Indoor Bowls Club (MDIBC) at 8.00 am. At 10.30 am, after a comfortable journey, we arrived at our destination where we were greeted by a member of the Visitors’ Welcome Team. Introductions over, we were escorted to the ‘Harness Room’ in the ‘Stables restaurant’ for pre-ordered coffee/tea and a nice selection of pastries.
NT membership and tickets for non-members allowed access to: the Gardens (10.00am – 6.00pm), the Farm (12.00pm – 5.00pm) and the Mansion (1.00pm – 5.00pm).
Gardens. Most of us we made beeline for the Gardens. The 50 acres of gardens at Tatton have been developing for over 200 years with each successive owner of the Tatton Park estate playing their part in its evolution. Lewis William Wyatt and Joseph Paxton, architect of Crystal Palace, designed various elements including the Conservatory which has been superbly stocked following a comprehensive restoration programme. The present-day garden is an almost complete picture of how the gardens existed in Edwardian times. The garden areas include: a walled kitchen garden, glasshouses, pleasure areas; an arboretum’ containing almost 900 interesting and varied plants, and a Japanese Garden. The walled garden is huge with climbing fruit tree on the walls and 2 spur espalier apple and pear trees of numerous varieties planted fence-like, inwards and parallel to the walls and surrounding numerous vegetable plots. The Japanese Garden was restored in 2000/2001 for the Japan Festival and was the result of over 14 years of research with input from various Japanese specialists. The project restored the garden to its original state when first created for the Egerton family in Japanese ‘style’ with a heavy western influence. The garden was designed to be viewed from its perimeter but guided tours inside the garden were held at 1.20pm and 2.20pm which proved to be very interesting.
Food Outlets. Tatton is well served by food outlets and picnic places in the stableyard area. ‘Stables’ is self-service style dining with a menu focused on using Estate meats and home grown, home-made and seasonal produce. It catered for all tastes… a full English breakfast or a hot drink and a home-made cake, light lunches or a choice of delicious hot dishes. ‘Gardeners Cottage’ offered an exclusive table service dining experience. The former head gardener’s cottage was the perfect location for a relaxing specialty coffee, lunch or afternoon tea. Full of cosy cottage character, there was the option of dining inside or out with views of the garden’s beautiful orchard and walled gardens. Reflecting the seasonal garden harvest, the menu included traditional lunch and afternoon tea favourites. The Cottage uses the garden produce available right on their doorstep to create truly unique dishes.
The Mansion. From 1:00pm we were able to wander free flow throughout the house. Each group of rooms had volunteer guides to answer our queries. Tatton Park was owned by the Egerton family from 1598, when it was purchased by Sir Thomas Egerton from his half-sister Dorothy Brereton. It was not until the early 18th century when Tatton Park was inherited by John Egerton that a branch of the Egerton family made it their main residence and a “new” house was built on the site of the present Mansion and completed circa 1716. It was his son, Samuel Egerton, who had a huge impact on the design of the Mansion. From 1758 he began to make improvements to the house and estate, perhaps the most impressive of which was the installation of an exuberant Rococo interior to his Drawing Room – later to become the Dining Room. During the 1770’s, towards the end of his life, Samuel Egerton commissioned the architect Samuel Wyatt to produce designs for a Neo-Classical Mansion house on the present site, the first stage of which was completed after his death in 1791. The Mansion was completed and furnished in very elegant and fashionable style during the tenure of Wilbraham Egerton (1781-1856), but on a reduced scale to the original plans. Lewis William Wyatt, the nephew of Samuel Wyatt, designed many of the present interiors and Wilbraham was responsible for the purchase of many of the fine paintings and artefacts including much of the Gillow furniture for which Tatton is famed. The rooms feature an exquisite collection of paintings, ceramics, furniture and books. Further alterations were made to the Mansion in the 19th century. In the 1860’s an upper floor was added to the family wing, with the addition of the Family Entrance Hall in 1884, which became an informal access to the Mansion in the time of Wilbraham, Earl Egerton. This was also the year in which Tatton became one of the first houses outside London to benefit from the installation of an electrical system which was powered by a plant on the estate. Maurice, the last Lord Egerton, perhaps made the greatest gesture bequeathing the Mansion and Gardens to the National Trust on his death in 1958 for the enjoyment of the nation. An exhibition including a dining room laid out for a Ball and some of the wonderfully eccentric and diverse collections he amassed during his lifetime were on display in the Maurice Egerton Exhibition Room
The Farm. The Farm is set in a corner of the park known as Tatton Dale and was, in its heyday, at the heart of the vast Egerton estate feeding family, guests and staff at the Mansion, as well as servicing the park and the outlying properties. The Farm provides a picture of rural life where time has ‘stood still’ since the 1940’s and traditional breeds are still resident. We were told that the farm is children orientated. Yours truly opted not to go there as there was so much to see and do elsewhere.
The Estate at War. We were made aware that the Tatton estate played a vitally important role in Britain’s wartime years between 1939 and 1945. Maurice Egerton was keen to support the war effort and gave permission for his land at Ringway (now Manchester Airport) to be used from 1940 onwards. Inside the estate is the Airborne Forces Memorial. The inscription reads:
Throughout most of the Second World War
Tatton Park was the dropping zone for
No.1 Parachute Training School, Ringway.
This stone was set in honour of
those thousands, from many lands
who descended here in the course of
training, given or received, for
Parachute service with the Allied Forces
in every theatre of war.
Departure. We had a very enjoyable visit and after a well-earned cup of tea, we boarded the coach at 4.30 pm. After a comfortable journey, we arrived back at Melton close to 6.30 pm