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EUROPEAN GARDEN HERITAGE NETWORK – EGHN

Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey is an ancient deer park with a Georgian House and formal gardens. It has a long and rich history dating back to the 14th Century and is described as a real plantsman’s garden. The sights and smells change with the seasons and the house provides a glimpse into the past and has a unique social history.

The original moat surrounding the old manor house partly survives and there was possibly a castle here at one time. The moat still powers a fully working Jacobean mill by means of a water wheel. The original Tudor house built in 1616 was replaced by a Georgian House in the 18th Century. The house is elegant and attractive, but not showy.

The park has a number of radiating lines of avenues of trees laid out in the 17th Century. The gardens include terraces, parterres, and two productive gardens and the gardens are French in style. The gardens are now reckoned to be amongst the finest in the North West of England and a must-see attraction for visitors.

Dunham Massey is famous for its collection of Huguenot silver which is periodically on display to the public. There are now 30 rooms of the hall open to the public.

Dunham Massey is an ancient deer park with a Georgian House and formal gardens. Now in the hands of the National Trust there is a long and rich history dating back to the 14th Century. The oldest record of the deer park is in 1362. Dunham Massey is described as a real plantsman’s garden with richly planted borders and majestic trees. The sights and smells change with the seasons and the house provides a glimpse into the past and has a unique dunsocial history.


The original moat surrounding the old manor house partly survives as an ornamental lake and there was possibly a castle before then. Indeed there are the remains of a Norman motte (an artificial mound with a flat top usually for a fort or castle to sit on). The moat still powers a fully working Jacobean mill by means of a water wheel. The original Tudor house built in 1616 was replaced by a Georgian House in the 18th Century as a plain, brick building reflecting the family’s financial circumstances at the time. The present structure was heavily restored in Edwardian years by the architect Compton Hall to create the elegant and attractive, although not showy, house there today.

The park has a number of radiating lines of avenues of trees laid out in the 17th Century. The ancient herd of fallow deer still roam the 250 acre deer park.

The gardens are now reckoned to be amongst the finest in the North West of England. The gardens were developed around this time and include terraces, parterres, and two productive gardens. Subsequently, flowing lawns were added, as was an orangery. Dunham Massey is famous for many old and mature trees and shrubs, herbaceous borders and water plants. Some sections of the garden are French in style.


Dunham Massey has acid soils making it suitable for moisture loving plants. In spring drifts of bluebells can be seen in the shady woods. In summer there are Himalayan blue poppies and in the autumn over 60 varieties of hydrangea provide colour and interest. Purple beech trees planted in the 1790s are still visible near the orangery.

The estate was the seat of the Booth family for generations. Sir Robert Booth was Sheriff of Cheshire in the Mid 15th Century. Successive Earls were heavily involved in the turbulent politics of the 17th Century and were on the side of Parliament during the Civil War. When the second Earl died he left a daughter who married into the Grey Family, who then inherited Dunham Massey. The Grey Family had an unfortunate history. This included Lady Jane Grey who was queen for only 9 days before being deposed and executed. Also, the Princes in the Tower, murdered so they could not succeed to the throne in the 15th Century, were stepsons of Sir John de Grey.

George Booth, the Second Earl of Warrington, was responsible for creating one of the largest country house collections of silver in the 18th Century. The collection of over 1000 pieces of Huguenot silver was dispersed in the 19th Century but partially brought back together in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, approximately one-fifth of the entire collection is now back in the house and is periodically on display to the public.

Legend has it that during one of the many periods of renovation to the house an architect fell to his death from the roof of the hall. Although it was claimed to be an accident, some believe that the fall was due to a quarrel – but this has never been proven. Whatever the truth, it is said that the dead man’s spirit can still be seen wandering about the buildings and grounds.

Since 1976 Dunham Massey is in the hands of the National Trust. There are now 30 rooms open to the public. This includes the library with its crucifix by Grinling Gibbons and the Tudor Long Gallery containing Dunham Massey’s most prized painting Mars, Venus and Cupid with Saturn as Time, by Guerino. A tour of the restored servants quarters provides a glimpse into what life must have been like ‘below stairs’.

Address: Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ

Telephone:
0161 941 1025
0161 928 4351 (Infoline)
0161 941 4986 (Learning)
0161 928 6820 (Shop)
0161 941 2815 (Restaurant)

Fax: 0161 929 7508

Email: dunhammassey@nationaltrust.org.uk

Opening times:
Please check with the interactive tool on the website of the NT

Admission Prices:
Adults £9.50, child £4.75, family £24.00.

Events/Exhibitions:
See www.nationaltrust.org.uk  for full details.

Customer Services:

  • National Trust Shop – Plant sales in garden
  • Picnics: Extensive picnic area. Picnics not permitted in deer park
  • Tours: Optional guided tours of house most afternoons and garden tours Mon and Wed at no extra charge. Booked evening tours of house and garden – charge applies
  • Walks: Guided deer park walks Mon, Wed, Fri throughout the year at 1.30. Free walks leaflet
  • Dogs: Good walks around estate, but must be on leads in deer park at all times
  • Parking: Parking, 200yds. Park visitors £3.80 car, £1 motorbike, £10 coach/minibus, refundable on purchase of adult house and garden ticket. Coaches bringing booked groups park free. Shuttle service operates between car park and visitor facilities 19 Mar-30 Oct
  • Education: Suitable for school groups. Education room/centre. Live interpretation. Hands-on activities. Children’s quiz/trail. Family activity packs. Family tours. Family activities during school holidays
  • Families & children: Baby-changing facilities. Front-carrying baby slings and hip-carrying infant seats for loan.
  • Refreshments: Stables Restaurant (licensed) on first floor of old stables. Open for corporate and private bookings outside normal hours, parties only. Children’s menu. Kiosk in car park

Sensory information:
In the house 18th century carved wooden benches and cabinets, Edwardian panelling and ornate Regency fender can be touched. Musicians may play the 19th century Bechstein piano in the Great Gallery. The sound of the Fountain in the Inner Courtyard can be heard. In the garden there is a Victorian Bark house and many fine species of trees as well as a wrought iron gate decorated with the family crest. The sounds of the Fountain in front of the Orangery, rustling bamboo, running stream through Bog garden, and birds can be heard. In the summer the fragrance from rhododendron and from the azaleas Philadelphus (mock orange shrubs) is tremendous. In the Autumn smell the aroma of burnt sugar as the leaves turn on the Cercidophyllum (Katsura tree).

Visual information:
Braille guide and large print guide. Touchable objects, interesting scents and sounds

Accessibility:
Disabled parking in main car park. Transfer available. There is a drop off point nearby. Entry to this property / location: Many steps to entrance. 4 wheelchairs available. 4 steps at front entrance to house. Steps to saloon and great hall. Stairs with handrail to other floors. Seating available. Toilets and shop all accessible. Grounds: Accessible route. 2 single-seater PMV’s, booking essential

How to get there:

  • Bus Service: Big House Bus from Altrincham Interchange, Sun April – Sept only
  • Cycling: NCN62 1ml.
  • By Road: 3ml SW of Altrincham off A56: M6 exit 19; M56 exit 7
  • By Train: Altrincham 3ml