Bramall Hall and gardens, set in 70 acres landscaped in the 'Capability' Brown style, is located near Stockport. It's one of Cheshire's best examples of a black and white timber framed house. The local style of building was used with plaster covering the infill between oak timbers.
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Built first in the 14th century, improvements were undertaken in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These included re-doing the great hall and adding a long gallery and entrance hall. In 1774 the west wing and gatehouse were demolished. In 1815 the long gallery was removed as its safety was in question.
The oriel window in the courtyard is a 14th century survival. Below it are the arms of de Bromale, the Norman family who owned the estate until the late part of the 14th century. A de Bromale daughter inherited the estate and married a de Davenport. This family owned and lived in the manor for the next 500 years. In 1883 new owner Charles Nevill made further alterations to the interior and exterior as well as restoring much of the manor and giving it the Victorian look it has today.
The great hall has retained its high table and plaster ceiling pendant in the bay, but its fireplace and ceiling beams are late 19th century additions. The stained glass windows date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Of special note is the oak door in the corner which is put together using wooden pegs and mortised and tenoned joinery.
Joining the great hall to the south wing is the lesser hall, much changed by Charles Nevill. On the wall is a 1616 portrait painted on wood. The banqueting room, dating from the 16th century, in later years served as a billiard room. The fireplace was rebuilt by the Nevills. Davenport family portraits hang on the walls. Look above the north door for traces of 1600s wall paintings which may have covered all the walls of the room at one time.
The chapel was put in place by 1541 but was dismantled and not fully restored until 1938. On the upper part of the west wall is a section of wall painting. The household was Catholic but practicing the religion was against the law after the Reformation so the paintings were whitewashed over. After removing the whitewash in the early 20th century only a small part was found to have survived. Also of note in the chapel is a row of very early tracery windows. Three late 1400s stained glass panels have survived the chapel’s dismantling. On a 15th century oak pew (cut down in size) are the arms of the Davenport family and those of Richard III. Two chained prayer books date from 1737.
The ballroom was most probably a solar in the early centuries. The timber roof with cambered tie beams, arched braces, and carved spandrels dates from the 16th century or earlier. The wall paintings date from the early 16th century and early 17th century and are of national importance due to their rarity. Note the door high in a gable yawning over space. Perhaps it was a way of reaching the now dismantled long gallery.
The décor of a room now called Nevill’s room dates from late Victorian times. He created an oriel window in one corner and on the south side built a bay extension. The oak fireplace and ceiling are Victorian. Behind an oak panel is a mystery door now filled in. It may be original to the house and might have led to a staircase or to the outside.
The plaster room takes its name from the flooring which was plaster when first constructed. In the room is a 16th century embroidered table carpet. When first constructed the room’s walls and ceiling were painted red. The paradise room served as a bedchamber. The original bed hangings depicted the Biblical story of Adam and Eve’s fall from paradise. A 16th century plaster frieze around three walls and the original floor boards have survived. The fireplace is 19th century.
The withdrawing room dates from the 16th century and is the result of a remodelling. The ceiling plaster work is notable for its pendants. Above the wall panelling are shields commemorating the Davenport marriages. An inlaid wood fireplace surround was added by Charles Nevill. The Davenport bedroom and dressing room were much changed from the original by the rearrangement of the panelling and the installation of a fireplace. A doorway in this room was blocked at some point.
In the north wing of the building were the servants’ quarters and the kitchen. The kitchen has been restored to that of Victorian times. Next to the kitchen are a dry store room, scullery, and cold store, mostly original.
There are 62 acres of park remaining in the estate. These offer lakes, woodland walks, and formal gardens. A brick wall remains of a kitchen garden. A café is in the stables.
Bramall Park, off Hall Rd, Bramhall, Stockport
Cheshire, North-west Counties
Tel. 0161 485 3708
Open: park open; house closed until spring 2016 for restoration and refurbishment; normally open April-end Sep, Sun, Tue-Thu, 1-5pm; Fri and Sat, 1-4pm; BH, 11am-5pm; Nov-end March, Sat and Sun, 1-4pm, BH, 11am-4pm
Parking; shop; tea-room; special events and activities
Web: Bramall Hall
Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard