History of Cromwell's Manor
Once owned by some of the most powerful and prosperous of landowners in all of Cheshire, Woodhey Hall, and its extensive grounds, is an area steeped in history and was, for a time, at the centre of some of the greatest political upheavals Britain has ever known.
The original hall has long since been demolished, but in its place is a remodeled, sandstone building that was fashioned to keep the spirit of the former fabric and structure very much alive.
One of the last remaining remnants of the original estate is a private chapel (now Grade I listed) that was commissioned by one Elizabeth Wilbraham in the 17th century. Filled with resplendent examples of fine craftsmanship, such as an impressive tableau of the 10 Commandments and an enchanting church organ, visitors can take a tour of this historic masterpiece that has remained largely unchanged since its initial development and inception.
Held by the Wilbrahams since the mid-13th century, Woodhey was one among many properties held by this family in this part of the North West. Much of their wealth and prosperity was concentrated in and around the nearby town of Nantwich(in addition to several hundred acres in Lancashire); and indeed a great deal of their fortune was tied up in their extensive land and property holdings (28,000 acres in Cheshire alone), in addition to interests in the local salt mines.
In keeping with the general philosophy of the time, the family deemed it necessary to make powerful alliances with other aristocratic families of great standing. And to bring this about, many of the brood were married to similarly wealthy families such as the Dysarts in Fifeshire, the Myttons in Shropshire and the Tollemaches in Suffolk.
Always keen to be heavily involved in local and national government, a great number of the Wilbraham dynasty also sought to acquire such esteemed positions as the Sheriff of Cheshire or the local representative for parliament.
One Richard Wilbraham, whose country seat was Woodhey, was appointed MP for Cheshire for three terms during the reign of Tudor queen, Mary I.
And other notable members of the clan, who were mostly stationed in Nantwich itself, carried on this tradition right up until the Civil War.
One Roger Wilbraham, who was sheriff for Cheshire at this time, was reportedly coerced into siding with the Parliamentarian forces.
Paying for their Delinquency
Largely Royalist in their leanings, many other branches of the Wilbraham dynasty had to pay draconian fines or forfeit property in a bid to placate Oliver Cromwell, as Nantwich became a Parliamentarian stronghold.
Roger Wilbraham's close relations, Thomas Wilbraham and his heiress wife, Elizabeth Mytton of Weston Park, Shropshire, were forced to play amiable hosts at Woodhey to Cromwell and his entourage.
The recently refurbished, and aptly named outbuilding, Cromwell's Manor was reputed to be somewhere the Roundhead leader commandeered as his own, and from where, one might surmise, many of his strategic decisions were made.
Sir Thomas, however, was a reluctant host and made no secret of his Royalist leanings. Records show that he and his family abandoned Woodhey and sought sanctuary in the homes of other sympathetic friends and allies.
However, it would seem they were tracked down and discovered, and then persuaded, under duress, to tend to Lord Cromwell and his minions at their Faddiley home.
And in a remarkable show of leniency, Sir Thomas was among a number of nobles who were not either imprisoned or sentenced to death, but punished by way of heavy fines instead.
Sometime after Cromwell's ultimate victory in the Civil War, towards the end of the 17th century, Woodhey itself, passed out of the Wilbraham's hands in to the Dysart family dynasty, until it was eventually put up for sale.
It's only been since the beginning of the 21st century that the general public has been given the opportunity to have much wider access to Woodhey and its grounds.
When new owners Paul and Ruth Robinson acquired the property, they decided not only to turn the estate into a working dairy farm, but to also renovate some of the historic barns into five star, luxury accommodation.
Much has been done, they believe, to ensure the renovations pay homage to the estate's richly diverse and vibrant setting.
Cromwell's Manor may have many modern fixtures and fittings, but a great deal of replica period features have been included, in a bid to give guests a strong sense of the estate's diverse and glorious past.
And those eager to tread in the footsteps of former Ladies and Lords, can find out more by contacting either Paul or Ruth Robinson on 01270 524 215 or you can also e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org They very much look forward to hearing from you soon.