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Bryan Leesmith, a director of the chemical firm Brunner Mond (later ICI), employed the architect C E Mallows to build him a country house in country east of Chester. Designs for the house, originally known as Tirley Court, were produced in 1906, the year that work commenced, and amendments were made over the next few years. In 1912 the site was sold to Brunner Mond who leased it in August of that year to R H Prestwich, a Manchester businessman. Prestwich continued with the construction of the house and garden to Mallows' designs, which had been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1908 and published in 'The Studio' in 1909.

Thomas Mawson (1861-1933), then sharing office premises with Mallows in Conduit Street, London, was called on by Mallows to provide advice on the garden design. Mawson produced planting plans and a scheme for re-routing the drive away from the garden (plans, private collection). Entries appear in Mallows' diary (private collection) during May to August 1912, regarding discussions of the garden design with Mawson and Mr and Mrs Prestwich. The full extent of Mawson's input remains unclear, although it appears that Mallows was the author of the strongly architectural terraces and other garden features around the house (The Studio 1909).

Prestwich died in 1940. His daughter Irene established a charitable trust which purchased the property from ICI in 1949. The site remains in single ownership, and has been used as a conference, training, and retreat centre for Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change) (2002).

Site timeline

1949: A charitable trust purchased the property from ICI.

People associated with this site

Architect: Charles Edward Mallows (born 05/05/1864 died 02/06/1915)

Designer: Thomas Hayton Mawson (born 05/05/1861 died 14/11/1933)



An avenue of rhododendrons.


A lawned terrace to the east of the house which over looks the rose garden.


A terrace on the south front of the house with lawns and rose beds.