Hoole House

From Hoole History and Heritage Society

Hoole House has vanished under modern housing, having been demolished in 1972 and replaced by sheltered accomodation flats also known as Hoole House. In the early 1800s, Lady Broughton transformed her new home with its extensive kitchen and formal gardens. Very late in his life, Thomas Harrison designed a large conservatory, a camellia house and a geranium house. Between 1826 and 1834, Lady Broughton designed and constructed an Alpine garden occupying over an acre of ground - based on the landscape of the Savoy Alps (where "Mont Blanc" is). John Claudius Loudon visited in 1831 and was very impressed; commenting in his "Villa Gardener" that the garden was 'one of the most remarkable specimens of the kind in England:

  • "The design of the rockwork was taken from a small model representing the mountains of Savoy, with the valley of Chamouni: it has been the work of many years to complete it, the difficulty being to make it stand against the weather. Rain washed away the soil, and frost swelled the stones: several times the main wall failed from the weight put upon it. The walls and the foundation are built of the red sandstone of the country; and the other materials have been collected from various quarters, chiefly from Wales; but it is now so generally covered with creeping and alpine plants, that it all mingles together in one mass. The outline, however, is carefully preserved; and the part of the model that represents "La Mer de Glace" it worked with grey limestone, quartz, and spar. It has no cells for plants: the spaces are filled up with broken fragments of white marble, to look like snow; and the spar is intended for the glacier. On the small scale of our engravings, and without the aid of colour, it is altogether impossible to give an adequate idea of the singularity and beauty of this rocky boundary; and we may add that it is equally impossible to create anything like it by mere mechanical means."

Loudon's description only appeared in 1838, as Lady Broughton initially denied him permission to publish anything. In the "Villa Gardener" (free e-book) Loudon describes how Beeston Castle can be seen in the distance:

  • "General observations: Hoole is situated about two miles from the of Chester on the road to Liverpool. The extent of the place is twenty and thirty acres and it is arranged as a farm a lawn a and a flower and rock garden; the latter being one of the remarkable specimens of the kind in England. The surface of the ground at Hoole is flat and soil a rich loam. In the extreme distance in one direction are seen Welsh mountains, in another the Peckforton Hills and Beeston Castle."

The "Vale of Chamouni" and particularly the famous "Mer de Glace" an early tourist attraction on the "Grand Tour" of Europe, were written about by the Romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley as well as by Mary Shelley in her "History of a six weeks tour" (full text). Coleridge never visited Chamouni, but partly based his "Hymn Before Sunrise" on the descriptions of others, including William Wordsworth who had been there. Shelley's poem on the place was composed between 22 July and 29 August 1816 during Shelley's actual journey to the Chamouni Valley, and intended to reflect the scenery through which he travelled. The best description of the three is that of Mary Godwin who ran away with Shelley (she was aged 16) in 1814 and visited the area in 1814 and 1816. 1816 was known as the 'Year Without a Summer' because of low temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, the result of the Mount Tambora volcanic eruption in Indonesia. The sulfur from this eruption reflected the sun's rays and caused severe global cooling, catastrophic in some locations. Kept indoors by the poor weather Mary Shelley drafted both her travelogue and the novel "Frankenstein".

After Lady Broughton's death in 1857 the lease for Hoole House and its gardens and parkland was passed to Martha Panton (married to Rev. William Peplow Hamilton of Hoole, after whom Panton Street and Panton Place are named). During the 18th century the Panton family engaged in lead and silver mining in the Bagillt area of Flintshire and amassed considerable wealth and property. Paul Panton (1727-1797) of Bagillt, Flintshire, and Plas Gwyn, Anglesey, was a descendant of the Panton family of Coleshill, Flintshire. He was a barrister, antiquary, and industrialist, who developed lead and coal mines, mainly in the Holywell area. He married, Jane Jones, heiress of the Plas Gwyn estate in 1756. His son and heir was Paul Panton (1758-1822) junior. On his death unmarried, much of the estate passed to his brother Jones Panton, and subsequently to his nephew, Jones Panton the younger (1761-1837), whose eldest daughter and heiress Mary married (as his second wife) Charles Crespigny Vivian, 2nd Baron Vivian, in 1841.

In 1837, Martha, already married to William Peploe Hamilton had been involved in a notable "forged will" case. This concerned the will of her wealthy father Jones Panton (d.1837) who was in the habit of changing his will frequently, especially towards the end of his life, at which time there must have been considerable doubt as to where his wealth would end up. Jones Panton had as his eldest son another Jones (1789-1830, predeceasing his father) whose daughter Mary Elizabeth Panton (1825-1907) married the 2nd Baron Vivian. Jones also had two other daughters, the youngest of which was Lauretta Maria who had married a solicitor, Thomas Williams. It was Williams who was accused of forging a will and codicils to benefit his wife.

Hoole House passed back to the Hamilton family upon Martha's own death in 1883. One of the Hamiltons living at Hoole House (Claud Hamilton Vivian - the son of Charles and Mary) sold some of the land to local builder Henry Sumpter in 1890, after whom Sumpter's Pathway is named. The remaining land was sold to Mrs Potts of Hoole Hall. Shortly before the Second World War a large part of the parkland was purchased by Hoole UDC from the then owner, William Paul, to build what later became Maple, Pine and Cedar Groves. Vivian Terrace, Willow Crescent and Grove, Chestnut Close, Ashwood, Aspen Way, Alder Grove, Hoole Gardens and Hornbeam Close are among the many streets that derive their names from Hoole House and its gardens. After WW2 new housing estates were built on more of the land that had belonged to house and the house itself eventually became flats in 1954. In 1972 the house was in a state of delipidation and it was demolished, being replaced with housing for the elderly named Hoole House.

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