The History Of Hale Hall

 

The original home of the lord of the manor was at Hutte, a mansion in Halewood, but between the following dates of 1617 and 1626 the foundations of Hale Hall were first laid.  The building was situated in Hale park which entery is gained via a lodge built in 1876 by John Ireland Blackburn.

 

The Hall was home of the Ireland family,  at this time John Middleton, The Childe Of Hale was alive and in 1617 Sir Gilbert Ireland took John Middleton to London to successfully fight the King`s Champion at court,  John Middleton successfully won the reward of a purse/money by breaking the champions thumb. 

 

In 1674 Sir Gilbert Ireland completed alterations to the Hall and moved into the  newly refurbished Hale Hall. One year later Sir Gilbert died in 1675 and there  were no direct heirs to his estate. 

Eventually the estate became the ownership of the Ireland Blackburne family following a

marrage of a female member of the Ireland family to a male member of the Blackburn family. 

It was Gilbert Ireland, Knt, who began the construction of Hale Hall when he first moved

from his former home at Hutte  which was starting to deccay.  

 

In 1674 Sir Gilbert Ireland completed alterations to the Hall and moved into the  newly

refurbished Hale Hall. One year later Sir Gilbert died in 1675 and there  were no direct

heirs to his estate. Eventually the estate became the ownership of the Ireland Blackburne 

family following a marrage of a female member of the Ireland family to a male member of

the Blackburn family. It was Gilbert Ireland, Knt, who began the construction of Hale Hall

when he first moved from his former home at Hutte  which was starting to deccay.  

 

 

 

The new house was Early Jacobean and was altered in 1674 by Gilberts grandson, 

also Gilbert.  Mr Peter Fleetwood Hesketh, states in his  "Lancashire Architectural Guide",

that the North front was originally gables below which bay windows projected, but

when Gilbert Ireland altered it he arched over the recesses between the bays and hid

the gables behind a brick parapet which he ornamented with stone medallions and other 

dressings.  The house was then complete and Sir Gilbert placed upon the  tower a

stone tablet with  the following inscription on it; "Built by Sir Gilbert Ireland, Knt, and

Dame Margt, Ao dI 1674"

 

 

In 1806 John Blackburn added a new south front to the Hall in a similar style to the old 

north front. It was designed by John Nash and, a stone tablet, resembling that on the 

north front was place in the center of the symmetrical facade upon the following was 

inscribed;  "These three rooms and tower were added by John Blackburn esq., in the 

character of the building of the north front. A.D 1806"

 

The oldest room in the hall was the oak panelled room, co-existant with Gilbert Irelands

original north front.  The panelling was finely carved and above the fireplace the arms of

Stanley, Aspinwall, Ireland, Molineux and Halsall were also carved into the wood.  

On either side of the fire place were two perforated panels could be seen with the initials

'M.I 1671' and 'G.I 1671'  (Margret Ireland and Gilbert Ireland) engraved upon them.      

 

 

Around the cornice were about 49 arms amongst which were those of Ireland of Hutte, Ireland of Hale, Ireland of Daresbury and Ireland Hesketh.  These arms were placed between the wainscot and the cornice when the ceiling in the room was raised.  There was also some 

stained glass in the room dispalying the arms of Booth, Legh, Stanley and Venables.

There was a museum in Hale Hall, and this was kept in the library in the centre of the south front. Various items  were kept in the museum, such as a valubale coins collection and various stuffed birds which had been collected  by Anne  - Blackburn of Orford Hall near Warrington. Like her father, John Ireland, she was an excellent botanist and it was after them that John Reinhold Foster, who circumnavigated the world with Captain Cook, named the 'Blackburnia Pinita'.  

 

In the Hall gardens and conservatories, many rare and exotic plants were grown including the Cork Tree, the tea tree and  the banana tree, but most outstanding was the palm tree named after John and his daughter, Sabal Blackburnia. According to "The Familly of Ireland and Blackburn of Hale Hall", it remained at Orford till 1817, when it was removed to Hale and the flowering of what was popularly called the "Great Palm" at Hale, in 1818, excited very great interest, and it continued to flower with the exception of one year 1859 when it died. 

While the Ireland Blackburn family lived at Hale Hall, many grand events took place out side, these would have took place in Hale Park, which were the private parklands fronting Hale Hall.  Even after they had left the Hall, a charity fete was held in the park in 1932 at which Sir Winston Churchill attended and gave a speech beneath one of the old oaks trees.

 

The central driveway you see today up the centre of the park used to be very well maintained, and was laid in the best red shale stones.

The current grounds of Hale Cricket club were the private cricket - ground used by the Ireland Blackburn family, who used to play matches against other  estates in the Merseyside area. Up to 1923, Hale Village - Cricket Club played on a rough pitch in Hale park, but in 1923 they were allowed to take over the Ireland Blackburn family pitch in exchange for a small "peppercorn" rent of 10 shillings per year.

 

 

The Hall and it`s attendant buildings was the hive of a small community of indoor and outdoor staff.  In the 1851 census return, the staff numbered twenty, although other workers would have lived in the village it`s self 

 

Surprisingly there is some background to the photograph of the ride-on mower.  

It is a 24" Gleens Model of two and three quaters horse power.  It was first produced in 1904, and a sale price of £70 brand new would have been paid. Such a large ride-on mower,  would make light work of the large lawns, which surrounded the Hall. 

 

The home farm and walled kitchen gardens by Mr. Nickson, could  provide the kitchens with a wide range of fresh foods from the potatoe to nectarines grown adjacent to the heated walls which formed an enclosed garden.  

 

The walls of the walled garden were built to around 12 or 14 feet and they were  honeycombed with flues which dispersed the hot fumes of fires burning at the base. The bricks when heated,, provided a warm mircro climate for the many fruit trees tied and trained to the face of the walls.  In the 19th century the introduction of glass  conservatories were introduced, these were built against the south facing walls and  centrally heated hot water pipes.  The garden was surrounded by woodland providing further shelter from wind and frost.

 

When it came to storing meat at the Hall, or even smoking, salting or drying of the meat if it were to be preserved for periods of time, there was an Icehouse situated close to the Hall under the shade of woodland, this provided an ideal enviroment for the storage of many fresh meats.  It was built of brick next to a pit from which ice could be removed in the winter and deposited in the icehouse.

 

Hale Park, even though a small park, was formally laid out in the manner of the English landscape gardens early in the 19th century.  This fashion practiced and promoted by "Capability Brown" and others in the 18th century, entailed the planting of  belts and clumps of woodland across acres of sweeping grassland grazed by cattle. In order to extend the park north,part of the village was removed. 

 

The construction of ha-ha walls, one of which exists in Hale today, formed a barrier against the roaming live stock entering the gardens, whilst at the same time provided uninterrupted views from the Hall to the park beyond. Open woodland especially to the north of the hall consisting of Oaks and Limes was planted and it was customary for a tree to be planted on the occasion of the coming of age of members of the familly.  

 

The first World War was the event which hastend the end of an era and led to the partial  demolition of Hale Hall.  The park succumbed to more intensive farming methods.  Robert Ireland Blackburne and his son Gilbert left Hale Hall in the 1930s and shortly after, the estate was transfered to the Fleetwood-Hesketh familly of North Meols near Southport. It was at this time the old North front was demolished.  The south front lay intact for some years longer, but was destroyed by fire and the empty ruins started to decay further.

 

Once the Blackburne family had moved out of Hale Hall before the war, the hall had begun to decay, even in just a small space of time the Hall was in a bad state.  From after the war up until 1981, Hale Hall was untouched, the once fine lawns and grand driveways had now all become  over grown, and the land was starting to reclaim itself.  It was still possible to walk around the ruins, and wander around the area that was once the landscaped gardens.

 

Finally in 1981 the remains of Hale Hall met their fate, in just a few days, the remains of the Hall  were demolished.  Although demolished the foundations were left intact, and were just covered over with a few feet of top soil. Even today there are still items and areas that still show were the Hall was once full of life.  Such as stone window sills, stone lamposts, stone pillars, even the original trees are still there.

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