Moston Hall (also known as the Dale)6866

Chester, England

Pgds 20090507 111842 Moston001Sm

Brief Description

The house, lawn, tennis court, and wooded grotto remain, but the walled gardens, extensive shrubbery borders, parkland etc have all been lost. The surrounding estate and new buildings are used for military purposes.

History

There was a manor of Moston in the 13th century with the abbots of St Werburgh claiming various privileges there. After the dissolution of the monasteries the estate became the property of John Morgell, registrar of the diocese of Chester, who is said to have built the original Moston Hall. This was replaced by a new house after 1789 when the estate passed into the ownership of Richard Massey, and the gardens developed. In 1937 it was taken over by the then War Department and remains MoD property.

Detailed Description

During and after the Second World War a large part of the gardens was still intact. The area immediately adjacent to the Hall was made up of lawns, shrub borders including rhododendrons, small decorative trees, and mature hardwoods. One feature was a large Cedar of Lebanon. There was also a tennis court with associated sandstone building, and a sunken woodland grotto with its own meandering pathways.

In addition there was a large walled kitchen garden extending over some 1 ½ acres, divided into outer and inner areas. The outer portion, enclosed by walls and trees, had cold frames, a small heated green house that was entered down a few steps, and vegetable beds. The inner portion was completely enclosed by brick walls. Inside, against one wall was a lean-to greenhouse some 30 feet in length. This was heated by its own coal fired boiler and hot water pipes. There was also another freestanding unheated greenhouse which measured approximately 45 feet x 24 feet. The remainder of the walled garden was divided into plots, separated by paths edged with low Box hedges, and used for vegetables and salad crops. Growing against the walls were apple and pear trees.

It is written that during WWII the Dale gardens were well kept for agriculture and horticulture, aiding the war effort by producing thousands of pounds worth of foodstuffs.

Today Moston Hall is still there much as it was in Mr Massey`s time, but further extended and internally modified, and is used for military purposes. The rear lawn remains with a small cedar tree in one corner, close to the site of the original specimen.

The wooded grotto also remains in a small dell with its original outline shape, but many of its plants have gone, as have most of the paths and its sheltering perimeter bushes. A tennis court is still there beyond the lawn together with the small sandstone building. Sadly the walled gardens and woodland walks have completely disappeared, as have the associated cottages and farm buildings.

Features

Plant Environment

  • Woodland Garden
  • Environment

Style

  • English Landscape Garden
Dingle
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Moston
History

Detailed History

There was a manor of Moston in the 13th century with the abbots of St Werburgh claiming various privileges there. During the reign of Elizabeth I, after the dissolution of the monasteries, the estate became the property of John Morgell, registrar of the diocese of Chester. He is stated to have built the original Moston Hall, described as `a delicate house of brick, four stories in height, with five gables in front`.

Over the following years the estate had various owners, including one time mayor and sheriff Henry Bennet. In 1789 it came into the hands of Richard Massey with a new Hall being built and the old one taken down.

In the 19th century the estate was sold, but with Miss Massey retaining a small portion at the southern end where she built a new house called The Dale. The new owner of the remainder of the estate, including Moston Hall, was Mr Swettenham, who extended the Hall. The Tithe Map (ca. 1840) notes describe it as a Hall, having Pleasure Groundsincluding woodlands of 94 acres, 2 roods, 2 perches. In addition there were various agricultural fields which were associated with the Hall`s own farm, out-buildings and cottages.

In 1937, by which time Moston Hall was in the hands of the Lockett family and The Dale owned by the Potts, the two parts of the estate were reunited when the Ministry of Defence (then the War Department) acquired the whole area. During the 1960s part of the land was used for private purposes but currently (2009) it is again used for military barracks, with some private houses.

The whole site of what was once the Moston estate, and when divided known respectively as The Dale and Moston Hall, is now frequently referred to jointly as The Dale.

Period

  • Late 18th Century
References

Contributors

  • David Russell