Building Name

The Hermitage, Holmes Chapel - Alterations

Holmes Chapel
Cheshire, England

 The Hermitage is now a rambling, irregular house of red brick with sash windows, much altered and extended, and situated in the middle of some 30 acres of secluded parkland grounds including a lake on the banks of the River Dane.  It was originally a stone house of the 16th century built for the Winnington family. In 1702 the estate was purchased by Thomas Hall of Cranage who added a taller symmetrical brick house with a shell-canopied doorway and a hipped roof. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was variously extended around a courtyard; additions included a brick tower, canted bays overlooking the garden, and an Arts & Crafts extension with a curved bay window. Sited some distance from the nearest public road it was nonetheless a little over a mile distant from Goostrey and Holmes Chapel railway stations on the Manchester to Crewe line.

As shown on the OS map revised in 1873-5 the principle elevation faced west with only a short gable overlooking the south lawn. By 1897 it had been considerably enlarged. With extensions to both the east and west the south front formed the principal elevation. Further changes over the next decade are apparent. By 1907 the road from Hermitage Bridge had been diverted away from the house, a lodge built and new drive created and about this time the tower at the west end of the south front was added.

About 1890 the house was leased to and later purchased by the Manchester brewer Herbert Malcolm Wilson. Born in 1861, he was the son of Henry Charles Wilson and by 1901 had become the chairman of Wilson's Brewery. In his new home Hubert Malcolm Wilson very much reinvented himself as a member of the landed gentry (there being no mention of his occupation as a brewer in the local press). He became a major in the Cheshire Yeomanry, and for many years a most popular Master of North Cheshire Hunt.

Although the dates, clients and architects responsible for these later extensions is uncertain, it is probable that some at least were carried out by Hubert Wilson. After being occupied for some years by his son, Hubert Malcolm Wilson junior, the Hermitage was leased to Henry Reiss in 1909. In that year yet more changes were contemplated when the architects Maxwell and Tuke were commissioned to prepare designs for undefined alteration works.

Reference    Building News 2 July 1909 Page xvi  - tenders
Reference    Peter de Figeiredo Julian Treuherz: Cheshire Country Houses page 240