|Inner Gatehouse||Exterior of the bailey with chapel above|
|An interior view||The belfry (fake bells!)|
|Walk from Bunbury to Peckforton, April 2009||Walk from Bunbury to Peckforton|
|Typical Peckforton farmhouse colours||Thatched Cottage|
Peckforton Castle was designed by Anthony Salvin and built for the first Lord Tollemache around 1844-50. It cost £60,000. By 1883, Lord Tollemache owned 35,000 acres. He made a big investment in dairy farming, building 55 farmhouses at a cost £148,000 and spent a similar amount on cottages. Harthill was the administrative centre for the estate. Cheese was made on the farms and the whey was used by the farm labourers to feed their pigs. The farmhouses and cottages are recognisable by their distinctive dark red paintwork.
Tollemache was considered a model landlord by Gladstone. However, the castle for both its location and structure is eminently defendable. The 1840s saw revolution and rebellion across Europe and in England it was the time of the Chartist riots.
The castle is now a hotel and is a popular venue for weddings. The entrance from the main road takes one up a winding lane through the woods. The "moat" never held water. The huge inner gatehouse leads one into the inner bailey at an elevation of about 450 feet above sea level. There is a chapel to the south and the main range of buildings to the north. The interior is in keeping with the mediaeval theme with massive walls in evidence everywhere and the belfry can be see from an interior corridor. The castel cannot be seen easily from the surrounding area because of the trees. The tops of the towers are glimpsed from a distance and from Beeston Castle.
The Tollemache family married into the Wilbraham family and thus acquired land in Cheshire. The Wilbrahams of Woodhey traced their ancestry back to Sir Richard de Wylburghham, Lord of Wymincham and Radnor in right of his second wife. He died about 1273. His second wife was Letice, eldest daughter and coheiress of William de Venables of Wymincham and Radenore, younger son of Sir William Venables, baron of Kinderton. Woodhey was obtained about 1416 by the marriage to Thomas de Wilberham of Radnor to Margaret the daughter and heiress of John de Golborne. The following simplified tree is taken from Ormerod's, work.
The Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0 300 09588 0
The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, incorporated with a republication of King's Vale Royal and Leycester's Cheshire Antiquities, by George Ormerod, 2nd Ed., revised and enlarged by Thomas Helsby, Esq., published by George Routledge and sons, Ludgate Hill, London, 1882.