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Arderne Hall


Three houses are known to have been built on this imposing site which overlooks the Cheshire plain with views of Beeston Castle and the Peckforton Hills. Only the double-tower house built in 1966 remains and today forms the Club house of a golf course which was opened in 1990. This is now the Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf Course and Spa and a new hotel block stands alongside it. Only remnants of the gardens of the former houses remain including the rock garden/grotto, known as 'The Dell', the fake 'ruin' with cross and the fish pond. Sandstone steps with six fastigiate yews lead down the slope, and there are graves of dogs or horses and many ancient trees.



Of the three houses built on this site, only the double-tower house built in 1966 remains and today forms the Club house of a golf course which was opened in 1990. This is now the Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf Course & Spa and a new hotel block stands alongside it.

The golf course is described on the Macdonald Portal website as follows; "With 210 acres of idllic parkland and water features, the 18-hole Portal Championship Golf Course offers a rewarding game to golfers at every level. Three holes which particularly encapsulate the Portal Championship Course are the Par 5 3rd hole with its elevated trees, 602 yards challenge and lake fronted green; the picturesque Par 3 14th surrounded by landscaped water features and the dramatic 18th with its cascading waterfall backdrop" (previously the fake ruin and cross).

Only parts of the gardens of the former houses remain. These are:

  • Remnants of the rock garden described as "the Dell". This is formed from the red sandstone bedrock together with sandstone blocks forming walls and paths. Rough sandstone steps are associated with this rock garden.
  • The fake ruin and cross are now a water feature on the golf course, forming the background to the 18th hole. The cross has "Agincourt" and the date "MCDXV" carved on one side and "St Crispin" on the other.
  • Fish Pond survives now forming a feature on the golf course. It is within the area marked Adam's Well on current OS maps. Here several old trees remain, including a conifer, possibly a Coast Red Wood (Sequioa sempervirens).
  • Sandstone steps (maybe originally from a terrace) with six fastigiate yew bushes alongside
  • Many ancient trees remain, including the Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica ‘Lucombeana'), one or more Spanish Chestnuts (Castanea sativa) and a Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani).
  • The oak tree planted in 1912 by the 11th Earl of Haddington with the plaque to "commemorate the completion of his 85th year"
  • A further set of steps, probably more recent and associated with the 1966 house.
  • A formal garden probably dating from the 1966 house remains between the double tower building and the new hotel block.
  • There are no Tree Preservation Orders on this property
Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

This is on the site of a hotel and golf club so access to remaining features may be limited.


From Tarporley, follow Forest Road until the Macdonald Portal Hotel sign can be seen.


Macdonald Hotels Limited

Whiteside House, Bathgate, EH48 2RX

There are four known stages of development on this site.

  1. Eaton Banks was occupied by General Richard Egerton, Esq (1783-1854) and his wife Arabella from around 1819-1860. It was owned by Edward Lord Skelmersdale, Wilbraham Egerton and Randle Wilbraham, all trustees of the late John Arden.
  2. In 1865, a large neo-gothic Victorian mansion called Arderne Hall was built in brick to the design of Joseph Crowther on the site of the previous house. The estate was now in the possession of George Baillie Hamilton (1827-1917), heir apparent Earl of Haddington who had inherited it through his wife Helen Catherine Warrender. It was demolished in 1958.
  3. In 1966 a house comprising two interlocking towers, three storeys high was built by David Brock for Desmond O'Brien, descendant of the 11th Earl of Haddington.
  4. Around 1990, the house and parkland were sold and converted to a championship Golf Course with the double-towered house as the club house. It has since been purchased by Macdonald Hotels and a new hotel block has been built alongside.

1. Eaton Banks

On the tithe map of 1838, the plot is described as House, Outbuilding, Yard, Garden and Pleasure Ground, and Land Use is described as Garden. In an account book of the estate dated 1819-21 and signed off by Richard Egerton, there are references to the purchases of seed, sea-kale pots and costs relating to gardeners from Oulton and Arley (local estates). In the auction sale catalogue of 1860 following the death of his widow Arabella, several interesting garden items are listed along with the usual garden tools:

  • 4 cucumber frames with two lights, 2 with one light
  • quantity of green-house plants
  • 10 garden hand-glasses (cloches)
  • covers for wall trees (frost protection)
  • wire flower stands
  • 'Budding's patent lawn mowing machine
  • garden engine on wheels (hand water cart with pump)

An undated plan of the estate, thought to be some years after the 1838 tithe map, shows landscaped parkland with a garden surrounding the house. A large rectangular area divided into four sections is probably a walled kitchen garden.

It is said that Richard Egerton took immense pride in the park around Eaton Banks and may have consulted the designer John Webb on the landscaping of the parkland. A fake ruin was described as the "last remnants of a Roman Catholic Abbey, sadly battered by cannon balls". Beside it stood a cross with the words "Agincourt MCDXV" on one side and "St Crispin" on the other. Steps led down into the "Fernery where an inner circle was formed of old roots and branches, arranged to give the appearance of gothic windows ...." It is thought that it was General Egerton who created the Dell or Rock Garden from an old red sandstone quarry. A narrow winding staircase of 28 steps was said to lead to a patch above the rock garden where many beautiful shrubs were planted, including two tamarisks and a bed of crowberry and variagated lily-of-the-valley (the purchase of "crawberries" was listed on the General's accounts of 1819).

General Richard Egerton constructed a "river" from some old marl pits. It is sometimes described as Fish Pond or Adam's Well. Here there was an obelisk and a bridge to an island.

2. Arderne Hall

When Arderne Hall was built in 1865 on the site of Eaton Banks, the contract or agreement described "a family mansion and all such necessary outbuilding, yards, gardens and pleasure grounds as should be proper and suitable ....." The garden already established on the Eaton Banks site was protected by a further paragraph stating "that the contractor shall and will protect from injury and prevent all damage to the trees, shrubs and plants in and about the gardens and pleasure grounds near to the site of the said intended mansion and shall be liable to pay ......" In 1882, the resulting mansion was described by George Ormerod as an extensive and handsome mansion. In 1896, Arderne Hall was described as "a pleasantly plain mansion of warm coloured old brick with a comparatively small park, and the latter also a peculiarly picturesque structure with a demesne whose woods are a wonder and whose holly hedges a marvel, one at least of the latter being half a mile long, fifteen feet high and eleven feet thick11".

The 11th Earl of Haddington clearly took some interest in the parkland; a photograph exists of him planting an oak tree in 1912 to "commemorate the completion of his 85th year". The household accounts of 1911 show payments for garden sundries such as seeds, fertiliser and the services of gardeners.

In October 1937, Cheshire Life magazine published an article entitled "The Master Foresters of Delamere" which included the following descriptions of the gardens around the hall. "Arderne makes no pretension to formal gardens but this adds rather than detracts from its attraction, for it is girt by descending terraces of spacious lawns and, going further afield, by undulating parkland of unusual beauty. There is throughout a great variety and wealth of trees, among them many magnificent Spanish chestnuts and oaks, the latter in some cases many centuries old. Examples of less common varieties are also outstanding, including a very fine specimen of the semi-evergreen Lucombe oak, a pear tree with the phenomenal girth of 8ft 10inches, and a tulip tree scarely smaller than the pear. Where one of the lawns terminates in a sunk fence, there appears another unusual feature, namely a great expanse of natural rock garden, formed of red sandstone and clothed with bracken, heather and broom, and scattered amongst them a great variety of small shrubs and rock plants.

Arderne Hall was demolished in 1958 as it was no longer economic. After its demolition and before the double-tower house was erected, the site was described as "tumbled, empty, the foundations exposed ... but all around the park, the gardens, the lawns, parterres and avenues are well maintained by Desmond O'Brien who lives nearby". In 1973, it was noted that after the house was demolished , "the fine trees in the garden remained - the giant pear tree, said to be the largest in Great Britain, a rare tulip tree, a fine Lucombe Oak and a splendid Lebanese Cedar".

3. The Double Towered House

In 1966 another house was built on this same site for Desmond O'Brien, descendant of the 11th Earl of Haddington. It comprised two interlocking towers, three storeys high and built by the Liverpool architect David Brock.

4. Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf and Spa

In 1990, the site was converted to a golf club with the two towers forming the club house and a formal garden behind the club house.

The site was subsequently purchased by Macdonald Hotels and a new hotel block was constructed alongside the double towered club house.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Rockwork
  • Description: Known as the Dell, this is formed from the red sandstone bedrock together with sandstone blocks forming walls and paths. Rough sandstone steps are associated with this rock garden.
  • Latest Date:
  • Sham Ruin
  • Description: A fake ruin stood to the north-west of the houses. A cross standing beside it had the words 'Agincourt MCDXV' on one side and 'St Crispin' on the other. It is said that steps led down into a 'Fernery where old roots and branches were arranged to give the appearance of gothic windows ....'
  • Latest Date:
  • Fishpond
  • Description: A 'river' or fishpond was constructed from some old marl pits. There was bridge to an island with an obelisk on it.
  • Latest Date:
  • House (featured building)
  • Later Converted To A Golf Clubhouse
  • Description: Two interlocking towers, three storeys high.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: There are several specimen trees on this site. Details are provided elsewhere in this record.
  • Golf Course
Key Information





Principal Building



Part: standing remains



Open to the public


Civil Parish





  • Joan Miller

  • Freyda Taylor