Hoole Hall

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Ormerod, writing in the early 19th century, noted that:

  • "the site of Hoole Hall on this estate is still marked by strong stone foundations, adjacent to the village of Hoole, near the second mile stone on the Frodsham road" (1882, 813).
Hoole Hall in 1846.

Baldwin: Balloons

That was the original Hoole Hall. The present Hoole Hall was built c.1760 for Rev John Baldwin with extension and some alterations for the Hamilton family. Baldwin had purchased the estate in 1757 from the Bunbury family (then of Stanney). Baldwin was born in 1710 and was the son of Rev. Thomas Baldwin of Leyland; his mother was Anne Rigbye the daughter of Nicholas Rigbye of Harrock Hall who died in 1740. When Anne's two brothers died without issue Harrock Hall was passed to their sister Eleanor for her life and when she died in 1787 it was passed to her nephew (Anne's son) Rev John Baldwin; he was obliged to change his name to Rigbye as a condition of the will. He moved with his wife to Harrock Hall where he died in 1793. He left Hoole Hall to his eldest son Thomas Baldwin

His son Thomas Baldwin (1742-1804, or "Baldwyn"), a clergyman, tried, in 1783 after resigning from his position as a Huntingdon curate, to fund the construction of a balloon by subscription, but was unable to raise enough money. For more on him see Thomas Baldwin (Balloonist). A display of Thomas' exploits, which included his design for a "grand naval air balloon" from 1784, was until recently still found at Hoole Hall. Further details of Baldwin's exploits can be found on the page for Chester Castle. Thomas Baldwin sold the house to a Mrs Fairfax, who in turn sold it to John Oliver.

In the 19th Century, the Hoole Hall acquired a floating staircase and a spacious Conservatory, now grade II listed. The conservatory was not designed by Thomas Harrison in about 1820, as some have stated. He in fact designed the one at Hoole House. The Hoole Hall conservatory does not appear in illustrations until after 1850, by which time Harrison was dead. During the 19th and 20th Cents the Hall saw many changes in residents and at some point during the 19th Century, one of them housed a family of monkeys in the Conservatory.

Hanshall (writing in 1817) gives the following in parts confusing information:

  • Hoole is pleasantly situated on a gentle elevation. The Bunburys of Stanney had an estate here before the reign of Henry VI and the seat of their descendants Hoole Hall was destroyed during the siege of Chester. In 1757 this property was purchased by the Rev J Baldwin who assumed the name of Rigby. In 1800 it was sold to the Rev Dr Peploe Ward whose son is the present proprietor. There is a handsome brick house with stone facings built by the Rev J Baldwin which was sold together with the land immediately surrounding it to Mrs Fairfax, from whom it was purchased by John Oliver Esq. It has recently become the property of Charles Sedgwick Esq.

Oliver: Slavery

John Oliver bought Hoole Hall in about 1795 as his eldest son Thomas Long Oliver was baptised at Thornton-le-Moors at this time. He remained at Hoole for the next twelve years and during this time he and his wife Jane Catherine Sarah Oliver (née Long) had seven more children two more boys and five girls. In 1817 John moved to Harley Street London but retained ownership of Hoole Hall. He rented it to James Sedgwick for the next 17 years. John Oliver died in 1832 and his eldest son Thomas Long Oliver (1796 - 1855} inherited the property.

According to John's will his wife Jane Catherine Sarah was entitled to a life-interest in one-third of "certain estates and slaves" in Jamaica formerly the property of her grandfather, and that he (the testator) had purchased a further one-third interest from Samuel Scudamore Heming. He willed the latter interest for life to his wife and then after her death both interests to Thomas Long Oliver.

Thomas lived in France so Hoole Hall was continually rented until his death in 1855. The will of Thomas Long Oliver of Boulogne sur mer, France was proved 10th January 1856. After James Sedgwick left William Yates rented the house with his mother Elizabeth Yates and two sisters Jane and Harriet. William died in 1839 while he was holidaying in Rome (his grave is in "Campo Cestio") and his mother died the following year. The 1841 Census shows the two sisters still living there. They left in 1846 and John Lister became the next tenant. John Lister left in 1852. After the death of Thomas Long Oliver in 1855 the property was sold to Arthur Potts.

Potts: Plants

Arthur Potts bought Hoole Hall in about 1857 and he and his family lived here for the next 55 years. The second son of Henry Potts, of Glan-yr-Afon, Denbighshire, he was born on the 23rd of June, 1814. Watergate House was built in 1820 as a town house for Henry Potts who was Clerk of the Peace for the County of Cheshire. It was designed by Thomas Harrison. In 1907 Watergate House became the headquarters of Western Command. The Potts family country house at Glan-yr-Afon was also built by Harrison), and produced one of the first riders to win the Grand Liverpool Steeplechase (a fore-runner of the "National") on "The Duke" - Arthur's elder brother, another Henry. Arthur was apprenticed to Mather, Dixon and Co, of Liverpool, where he was a contemporary of W. B. Buddicom, and other engineers afterwards destined to rise to note in connection with the establishment of the railway system. Some tine after completing his apprenticeship, Potts joined John Jones at the Viaduct Foundry, near Newton-le-Willows, which had a very prosperous career. Jones and Potts employed about eight hundred men, and for several years were fully employed in making locomotive-engines for various railways, notably the Caledonian Railway. In 1852, offers were made by the London and North Western Railway Co. for the purchase of the Viaduct Works (without the machinery), and that company ultimately acquired the property, when Mr. Potts retired from business with an ample fortune. Thereafter, until his death on the 4th of April, 1888, Mr. Potts lived at Hoole Hall, and amused himself in horticultural pursuits, growing orchids; he also had a love for Alpine plants, and had collected a good many.

Hoole Hall bookplate

On the east side of the transept of Chester Cathedral is a stained window given in 1890 by Mrs. Elizabeth Potts, of Hoole Hall, in memory of her father and her husband. Elizabeth was born in 1829 in Chester. She was the only child of William Wardell a very wealthy banker and a partner in Dixon's "Old Bank" in Eastgate Street. Wardell was the mayor of Chester in 1840 and advanced the money and a collection of books to start the Mechanic's Institute library in St John Street. When he died in 1864 she inherited around £80,000. She had a strong interest in gardening and won many prizes for her flowers. She died in 1911 and her daughter Edith who had married Reverend Oswald Pryor Wardell Yarburgh in 1889 inherited the property. Her husband, the brother of Robert Yerburgh, died in 1913 and Edith lived at Hoole Hall with her daughter Hilda until 1924 when she sold it to Sir Alexander Maguire.

On 11 August 1915, Hoole House was opened as a Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital following its donation by Mrs. Wardell Yerburgh and the closure of Richmond House.

As noted above, the Potts also have a connection with Watergate Street and lived at Watergate House where another Eliza Potts (1809-1873) was a noted botanist - in 2019 her portrait by William Owen Harling (1813-1879) was purchased by the Grosvenor Museum, which also holds her botanical collection.

Maguire: Matches and Murder

Alexander Maguire born in 1876, was the son of match manufacturer J. T. Maguire of Liverpool. Alexander was educated at Waterloo College in Liverpool. In 1898, J. T. Maguire and his four sons – Alexander, David, Richard and Robert - left the Diamond Match Company of America to form Maguire, Miller & Co. In the 1900s Maguire worked on the White Phosphorus Prohibition Act of 1908, for which he was knighted in the 1917 Birthday Honours. In 1919, with the death of two of his brothers and the retirement of another, he took over the directorship of the company and formed Maguire, Paterson and Palmer, who then built the Mersey Match Factory generally known as The Matchworks.

In 1945, Maguire stayed in Upper Carlisle Road, Eastbourne. There he was treated by society doctor John Bodkin Adams, the suspected serial killer. According to Olwen Williams, Maguire's nurse, Adams plied the patient with whisky despite him being "an inebriate". Maguire soon moved back to London, where he died 18 months later from "chronic alcoholism". Alexander had sold Hoole Hall in 1929 to Charles Edward Holmes.


The last family residing were the Holmes family who stayed until the British Army took over the property for Western Command in 1940. Charles Edward Holmes was born in 1875 in Tipton, Staffordshire. His father Edward was a railway pointman and Charles became a solicitor. He was the Secretary of Garden City Tenants Ltd which was a building society founded to raise capital for worker’s housing. In 1902 he married Rose Hannah Barnett, the daughter of Samuel Barnett who owned the Barnett Brickworks in Tividale. The couple had four children. After the second world war the Hall was passed over to British Telecommunications for offices, which subsequently stood empty for many years. The complete site was sold at auction on 30th June 1982 to Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries who after nearly 2 years were granted planning permission to turn the grand hall into a Hotel, Bar and Bistro.

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