Thursday, 27 July 2017

Knutsford and Tatton Park

St John the Baptist church

I started my walk around Knutsford at the imposing Georgian church of St John the Baptist (1741-4, by J Garlive) and continued along Church St to reach Toft Road and the rather lovely former Town Hall, now a wine bar / restaurant. It was the work of Alfred Waterhouse (National History Museum, Manchester Town Hall) and dates from 1870-2.

Continuing south along Toft Road, on the right the Court House hotel. This was once the Sessions House (1815-8, by Thomas Harrison). It is quite imposing, but too heavy for my taste. According to Pevsner, the gaol was once just round the back - very efficient!

Left at the traffic lights and down Adams Hill past the station to reach the start of King St, Knutsford's main and most characterful street. On the opposite corner was the former public library of 1904, now a nursery school. (A bit of a pattern is emerging here, no doubt not uncommon.)

King St is a very attractive street with an interesting miscellany of houses. I liked this half0timbered group on the left hand side.

A bit further up on the same side is the surprising Gaskell Memorial Tower. It was built for Richard Harding Watt  in 1907 in honour of the novelist Mrs Gaskell. I rather liked small the art deco tower beside it.

Now on the right was the Gusto restaurant (formerly Est! Est! Est!). This is a building of no special merit except that my wife and I had our first date here.

Next was the nicely decorated entrance to the Royal George Hotel.

And finally, Marble Arch - once a coaching inn, but now offering a picturesque view through the archway.

I continued northwards to reach the entrance to Tatton Park, Kutsford Lodge (1810). Tatton was owned by the Egerton family from 1598 to 1958 when the last Lord Egerton died without an heir. It passed to the National Trust and is now the responsibility of Cheshire East Council.

I followed a track passing close to Tatton Mere, apparently an actual mere rather than the artificial creation of a Capability Brown.

Way off to the left I had my first glimpse of the house (now called the Mansion).

A very pleasant path through the parkland eventually provided a close up view. The house was designed by Samuel Wyatt and started in 1788 but not completed until after 1807. I am not much of a fan of neo-classical architecture and I confess I found it uninspiring.

The main entrance seemed even more so, but I loved the fallow deer grazing on the grass opposite.

Time was up and I made a brisk return to Knutsford along the long drive back to Knutsford Lodge. There was just time to spot this handsome red deer.

Conditions: mild, threat of rain.

Distance: 6 miles.

From: Discover Cheshire website

Map: Explorer 268 (Wilmslow, Macclesfield & Congleton)

Rating: four stars.

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