|Walton Hall in 2002||View showing clock tower in 2002|
|Entrance Hall in 2002||The clock tower|
Walton Hall Gardens are owned and administered by Warrington Borough Council. Warrington was formerly in Lancashire but is now in Cheshire. However, Walton Hall is south of the Mersey and was always in Cheshire. In 2002 the gardens included a heritage centre with good displays on the Greenall family and on Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, the author of 'Alice in Wonderland'. When I called again in April 2010 the heritage centre and café were closed and the nearby bicycle museum was open only at weekends.
Ormerod, in his history of Cheshire, quotes the work of Sir Peter Leycester on the subject of Over Walton, which appears to have been held originally from the Lord of Daresbury, as mentioned in papers dating to 1314. Margery of Daresbury, the daughter and heir of William Daresbury of Daresbury and the widow of Henry le Norreys, gave to her son Alan le Norreys the manor of Daresbury with the village of Over Walton. The land came within the fee of the Baron of Halton. However, as early as 1190 there was a Walton family in the area, who must have held part of the manor or township. William de Walton and William de Daresbury are mentioned in a document of 1210. Sir Peter Leycester noted that by the early 14th century, Simon de Merbury married Idonea the daughter and heir of Thomas de Walton and so the Merbury family acquired an interest in the area which persisted until Thomas Merbury who was born in 1607. He sold all his estates, including Over Walton, his half share in the manor of Nether (Lower) Walton, together with land at Appleton, Hull and Stockton to Sir Peter Brooke of Mere, who died in 1685.
I have studied some of the estate papers of the Brookes of Mere at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. There is mention of rents from Dutton and Lower Walton, and letting a mill at Walton in 1827 and 1828, showing that the family still had some interests in the area. In the second edition of Ormerod there are additional comments in brackets indicating changes since the first edition of 1818.
The manor of Walton has passed to the present time  with the other estates of the Brookes of Mere, [but was sold a few years since to Gilbert Greenall, esq. MP (since made a baronet)] and is now vested in him as purchaser from the heir of Peter Langford Brooke, Esq. [Sir Gilbert Greenall, Bart. MP now resides at Walton Hall].
Thomas Langford Brooke died in 1815 and his son Peter Langford Brooke died in January 1840 so the implication is that the manorial rights remained with the Brookes after the Greenall family first purchased land in the area and eventually went to the Greenalls some time after 1840.
The Greenall family purchased the Walton Hall Estate in 1812. They had made their mark in the brewing industry, first in St. Helens and then in Warrington. The hall was built between 1836 and 1838 to the design of Edmund Sharp of Lancaster and is in mock Elizabethan style. Further modifications were made in the 1870s including addition of the clocktower and an extra wing in the Gothic style. The Greenall family sold the estate in 1941 and while tenants bought some of the farms, the hall and land for the present park and golf course was purchased by Warrington Council.
Much of the hall fell into disrepair and had to be demolished leaving only the east wing and the clock tower. The hall is used for functions including weddings. The gardens were in good order and the park land is popular with families. The following pictures of Higher Walton village and the hall were taken in April 2010.
|The Walton Arms||Houses adjacent to the Walton Arms|
|St. John's Walton||St. John's, Walton|
|St. John's Community Hall||Clock tower at Walton Hall from the south|
|Walton Hall showing the clock tower at the far left||East front|
|The entrance hall in Walton Hall in April 2010||Outbuildings that formerly housed the Heritage Centre and café|
St. John's at Higher Walton was designed by Paley and Austin and built in 1885. The work was funded by the brewer, Sir Gilbert Greenall. It has a crossing tower with a brickwork chequered pattern. Nearby are substantial estate houses dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries and the Community Hall. The Walton Arms is in the same style as the estate houses.
The Greenall family prospered through their brewing business and subsequently, by purchase of the Walton Estate became country landowners. From this base they became prominent in politics and subsequently entered into the peerage. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, they would have been known to the Cheshire gentry and professional people through their brewing interests and through their involvement in Parr's Bank in Warrington.
The family traces its descent from Thomas Greenhalgh who died in 1584 but the name evolved to Greenall. The first brewery was built in St. Helens in 1762 by Thomas Greenall (1733-1805). In 1786, Thomas went into partnership with William Orrett, the owner of a number of inns and Thomas Lyon, a landowner and business partner with Joseph Parr and Walter Kerfoot in a banking business. This partnership started brewing in Warrington and built a new brewery at Wilderspool in 1793.
Thomas Greenall's eldest son was Edward (1758-1835), who purchased the Walton Hall estate. He had five sons of whom Thomas, Peter and Gilbert entered the family firm. It was Edward's youngest son, Gilbert Greenall (1806-1894) who first lived at Walton Hall. Gilbert was MP for Warrington, winning elections for the Conservative interest in 1847, 1852, 1857, 1859, 1865, 1874, 1885 and 1886 and became a baronet in 1876. On the death of his brothers, Thomas and Peter, Gilbert assumed control of the family business. He had additional business interests in The St. Helens Canal and Railway Company, a glassworks in St. Helens, and in Parr, Lyon and Greenall's Bank, whose headquarters was in Warrington.
Gilbert attended the church at Daresbury but was a benefactor of other local churches; he built St. John the Evangelist at Walton in 1885. His twin brother, Richard Greenall, was rector of the church of St. Matthew's at the nearby village of Stretton from 1831 to 1867.
Gilbert's sister, Isabella, married John Whitley and had five sons, some of whom became partners in the brewing business. In October 1880, the St. Helens and Warrington Brewery businesses became Greenall Whitley and Company Ltd, under the chairmanship of Sir Gilbert Greenall. Gilbert's son, also called Gilbert, became the First Baron Daresbury of Walton. His death in 1938 led to death duties of half a million pounds and this contributed to the decision to sell the Walton estates in 1941. At this time the land involved was about 7000 acres.
James Tew has contacted me with additional, but as yet not fully confirmed, information about Thomas Greenall (1758-1848) in generation 3 below. James believes that the children were Edward, born about 1821; Thomas, born about 1824; Ellen, born about 1825; Isabella, born about 1831; Gilbert, born about 1832; James, born about 1834; John, born about 1836; Eliza, born about 1839; and Frederick, born about 1841. Parish records are needed to confirm all these details and to see if all the children survived. James Tew reports that a Thomas Greenall was rector of Grappenhall from 1848 and married Laura Sophia Tew.
The Census of 3 April 1881 shows the following details for the family at Walton Hall. There were also two visitors, Dora and Emma Claughton, a governess, 8 female and 7 male servants.
Sir Gilbert Greenall, head of household, aged 74, baronet, born in Cheshire
Susannah Greenall, wife, aged 49, born in London
Susannah Greenall, daughter, aged 12, scholar, born Walton
Bertha Greenall, daughter, aged 10, scholar, born Walton
At Grappenhall Hall we find the following family with six servants. Source: FHL Film 1341908 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3799 Folio 117 Page 1
Dwelling: Grappenhall Hall Mansion, Grappenhall, Cheshire, England
Edward GREENALL, head of household, aged 60 born Gt Budworth, Cheshire, a Magistrate & Banker
Annie GREENALL wife, aged 54, born St Helens, Lancashire,
Edward GREENALL, son, unmarried, aged 32, born Gt Budworth, Cheshire, occupation distiller
Peter GREENALL, son, unmarried, aged 29, born Gt Budworth,a Chemical Manufacturer
Henry GREENALL, son, unmarried, aged 25, born Grappenhall, Cheshire, a solicitor
Alfred GREENALL, son, unmarried, aged 21, born Grappenhall, Cheshire, a student
Helen GREENALL, daughter, unmarried, aged 19, born Bangor, Caernarvon, Wales
John Henry DUN U 26 M Penally, Pembroke, Wales, a visitor and a solicitor
Wm.Lee PILKINGTON U 26 M Sutton, Lancashire, a visitor and Lt in the 4th R L Militia
At Grappenhall rectory we find Thomas Greenall with his family, a governess and six servants. Source: FHL Film 1341908 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 3799 Folio 113 Page 5
Dwelling: New Rectory Grappenhall, Cheshire, England
Thomas GREENALL head of household, aged 57, born Wilderspool, Cheshire. Occ: MA Rector Of Grappenhall Hon. Canon Of Chester Cathedral
Laura Sophia GREENALL, wife, aged 39, born Keath Wakefield, Yorkshire
Cyril Edwd. GREENALL, son, aged 14, born Grappenhall, Cheshire, a scholar
Laura Helen GREENALL, daughter, aged 11, born Grappenhall, Cheshire, a scholar
Constance Mabel GREENALL, daughter, aged 7, born Grappenhall, Cheshire, a scholar
Brothers Gilbert, John, James and Frederick do not appear in Cheshire in the 1881 census.
Walton Hall Gardens: Lewis Carroll, the Local Link a pamphlet available
at the heritage centre in 2002.
Walton Hall Gardens, Brief History, a pamphlet
The History of Walton Hall Gardens, edited by Jen Darling, Alfresco Book, 1997 and available at the heritage centre in 2002.
Ormerod's History of Cheshire.
The Buildings of England: Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, published by Yale University Press, 2002