Alvaston Hall Hotel

Alvaston Hall Hotel
Alvaston Hall Hotel

Alvaston Hall is an attractive property in South Cheshire, which is now a hotel. It’s situated 2 miles from the historic town of Nantwich on the Middlwich road, surrounded by green fields. Its owners had quite different ideas of what the property should look like, and as a result it’s a wonderful mixture of Old English, Queen Anne and Early Georgian architectural styles.


Drawing of Alvaston Hall in 1897
From Saxon days Alvaston was a dependant township of Nantwich, which had become the north of England’s most important salt producing town. Here there was an open landscape of grassland interspersed with gorse. furze and the remains or the ancient oakwoods where the people of Nantwich had the common right or grazing their livestock, and other privileges such as foraging for broken and dead wood to heat their homes. The whole area was almost jealously guarded from outsiders: there were no hedges then.

A man called Aelfgar came here about 1000 years ago, built his “ton” or farmstead, and thus gave his name to Alvaston. In the thirteenth century the lords of Alvaston cleared the land surrounding Alvaston Hall – much to the annoyance of Nantwich folk as this land belonged to Beam Heath, and in 1285 the big bad barons agreed to leave Beam Heath alone. Perhaps they built a farmstead on this site: a contemporary document refers to land and a house at Alvaston rented to the heirs of Agnes, daughter of Adam de Burton, for a “pair of white gloves”.

Where the hotel is now situated was the site of the Nantwich Racecourse which closed in 1823.

In 1824 the land surrounding Alvaston Hall; which belonged to Beam Heath, was enclosed by Act of parliament with straight hawthorn hedges and the present drive, straight as an arrow, was then built. The people of Nantwich opposed the parliamentary enclosure of Beam Heath as it endangered their common rights – especially for poor people, and the rest of their land was not enclosed until the 1870s.

In the early nineteenth century there was a house, known as the Grove, and owned by a busy Quaker, banker and farmer called Croudson Tunstall. This map from Bryant shows the area in 1832:
Map of The Grove It was then bought and rebuilt by a Mr. Francis Massey.

In 1896 Mr. Arthur Knowles, a wealthy Manchester industrialist, who had been involved in the Cheshire Hunt for many years, bought the Grove and changed it into a grand country house. It was renamed Alvaston Hall, and Mr. and Mrs. Knowles soon turned it into one of the centres of Cheshire social life. The architects responsible for the rebuilding were A. Steinthal and Edward Salamons, who both came from Manchester. Edward Salamons’ most important commission was for Agnews, Bond Street, London in 1877.

The style was “Picturesque” or “cottage ornée” which used a hotch-potch of all kinds of architectural styles to lend its buildings a rural and romantic atmosphere. The effect is enhanced by the lack of symmetry, the mock timber framing, the pinnacles, the crested ridge tiles, the gargoyle rain heads on the great projecting porch and the pretty clock tower. Inside we find “Elizabethan” panelling and ceilings, “Georgian” Fireplaces and ceilings, the ceremonial Chinese style staircase and a fine “Baroque” boudoir.

Drawing of the Hall at Alvaston Hall

The magnificent hall was used as a living room and has a fantastic stained glass window, built in the fashionable country house Gothic Revival style, and a large fireplace with Italian ironwork.

The billiard room was demolished some time and opened off the white panelled ladies’ drawing room, which once opened into a conservatory. Arthur Knowles spend much of his considerable fortune on Alvaston. He built lovely grounds containing a cricket pitch, tennis courts, a great barn-like building which housed one of the first electric systems in England, and the pretty stables and lodge: these grounds were enclosed by a stone fronted ditch or “ha-ha”, and the present drive was built and planted either side with lime trees so as to give any approaching visitor a tantalising glimpse of the Hall. The stables housed his private string of race, carriage and hunting horses. He was particularly interested in the breeding of blood stock for racing and his race horses won many sporting events. One of these horses, Jack Tar, was so successful that one night he was stolen from his stables: the thieves covered his hooves with velvet to dull the sound of his abduction, and after a frantic search during which every Post Office in England was kept open and every police officer in Cheshire was on full alert the horse was found abandoned in Holmes Chapel – too late for the race!

After an afternoon at Haydock park races in 1929 Mr. Knowles fell ill and later died. He had a simple funeral in which a farm lorry carried his coffin to Wistaston Church, where he was laid to rest next to his wife, who had died tragically in 1913. The “Goliath of the Manchester coalfield” was no more: the business had already started to decline amid the first rumblings of the depression. Alvaston Hall and its contents were auctioned in 1930.

After a succession or private owners, Alvaston Hall was converted into an Hotel in 1964.

In 1972 the present Company purchased the Hall  with only 10 “lettable” bedrooms. They tastefully converted the Victorian Servants Quarters, the Stables, Coach-house, Engine & Harness Rooms into a total of 42 Bedrooms and in 1980 was added the South Wing with 18 more rooms.

Local stories of Alvaston and its past glories are nearly all legend and “gossip”. The stories of Cock-fights in the great Cheshire Barn (still existing in the grounds) are true, but more difficult to believe is the story of the young wife of a past owner who died whilst throwing herself from an upstairs window fearing the House was on fire! As a result the husband committed suicide by drowning himself in the nearby River Weaver. There appears to be no documentary evidence to support this story but it is a fact that one heir to the property shot himself-many years ago and at certain times customers of a “SPIRITual” nature have seen the Beautiful Ghost of the young Victorian Bride.

War Memorial

Situated in the grounds of Alvaston Hall Hotel is a memorial to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit:

Memorial to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit at Alvaston
Memorial to the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit

On 17th August 1940, six men from the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit were sent out to attempt to disarm four German bombs, which had not detonated on impact. I’d assumed that this would have been an attack on Crewe works, but after reading this site I  found out that it was a German bomber, on his way back from a raid on Liverpool, who had decided to jettison his bombs over Nantwich.

The men – Sergeant Edward Greengrass, Sapper Harold Thompson, Sapper Michael Lambert, Sapper Albert Edward Fearon, Sapper George Lucas and Sapper John Percival – successfully defused three.  However when the men tried to defuse the bomb near the the memorial, it exploded and at least four of the men died instantly.  In the next two days John Percival and Edward Greengrass had also died.

Due to issues of security and morale, the incident was kept quiet during the war, and the mens names didn’t appear on the war memorials in Crewe or Nantwich. Recently the Crewe Branch of the Royal Engineers decided that a memorial should be erected, and this monument was unveiled on Sunday, 7th October 2012.

Alvaston Hall Today

Alvaston Hall is now a hotel owned by Warner Leisure Hotels.  It has its own nine-hole golf course and a health club, pool and cabaret restaurant. It recently received a £12.5 million redevelopment.

Click here for special offers visiting Alvaston Hall.

Bill Pearson \ Nantwich History

Bill Pearson’s Home Page

29 thoughts on “Alvaston Hall Hotel”

  1. I worked at Alvaston Hall in the early eighties and believe it was privately owned by a gentleman called John Freestone and the hotel was sold by him to the current owners, I would love to know after all these years whether he was the actual owner.

    1. Yes, I worked there too. John owned it, and began its restoration. He also built the large house at the bottom.

    1. Oh Bill… by the way, I understood that the ‘ghost’ was of a bride on her wedding night. The window she jumped from was number 23 and we could never get that room warm, despite having hot radiators. I acted a night porter on many occasions as well as my other duties. Happily though, never saw anything. Any idea who shot himself? Hope not anyone I knew!

      1. No. We had rooms in the former stables. At that time and prior to the Warner acquisition we had circa 50 or 60 rooms, many of them in the old stables and 23 in the main house. A new wing was formed to the southern end of the house and we had 4 chalets between the main house and the gate house, which was also used for staff.

  2. Hi Bill, I’ve been tracing my family history and some ancestors originate in Cheshire. Their surname was Albistion eith some derivatives being Alveston. I wonder if the name links to Aelfgar?

  3. We have just come back from a weekend break at Alveston Hall and we absolutely loved it. The staff were fantastic. Food lovely and entertainment excellent. We have booked to go back later in the year.
    The house and the grounds are beautiful.

  4. Does anyone know anything about a tunnel between Alvaston and Rookery Hall? It was a common topic of conversation when I worked at Alvaston in the 90s….

  5. Just spent Monday to Friday morning at alverston hall and had a wonderful time. Couldn’t find fault. Staff were so nice and helpful, food was delicious, entertainment was excellent and the pool etc was wonderful. There was eight of us and we are all coming back on February 18th – can’t wait. Thank you all for a lovely holiday break.

  6. Hi Bill
    I am looking at me step Dads birth certificate and it says place of birth Zoo Alvaston u.d
    was the hall used as a zoo of sorts then used as a hospital during the war…its baffling. Thanks Rob

    1. Hi,
      My birth certificate says exactly the same thing , I think it’s 200 Alvaston ud. My mother’s occupation was given as ‘domestic servant’ implying that she worked there. My Mother died some years ago and never told me where I was born other than Nantwich which is the right area. Could be part was run as a hostel for unmarried pregnant mothers. Would be interested in any clues you may have found.

      1. Hi Jim
        This is interesting. My late wife’s birth certificate says 200 Alvaston UD as ‘where born’. But her birth was registered in Nantwich and I know her mother was unmarried when she had her. Her mother was working in Arley Hall as a children’s nurse. So maybe there was a place there for unmarried mothers-to-be who were in service.

        Was your mother unmarried when you were born?

        I could do with sorting this out as there is about a dozen people on who think she was born in Alvaston and Bourne UD in Derbyshire.

        1. Alvaston I think was a Township in the Parish of Nantwich. Have you checked the excellent (and free Cheshire BMD site which will show if you have any recent relatives born in Cheshire?

          1. I know that Alvaston was very close to Nantwich. It’s the meaning of 200 Alvaston UD I would like to pin down.

          2. Assuming that UD stands for Urban District I suspect it relates to the Alvaston in Derbyshire. Good luck finding out more….

  7. Hi. I worked there as a training chef under David Malison the head chef at the time in 1966-67. I had a poor upbringing but Dave and other members of the staff were very kind and supportive to me. They helped me through some hard time.
    My training was to a very high standard and I went on to work in a number of good hotels.

    A wonderful home and place to be. I remember that on weekends, they had some fantastic bands play including. ‘Lucas and the Mike Cotonou sound’

  8. Hi. I worked there as a training chef under David Malison the head chef at the time in 1966-67. I had a poor upbringing but Dave and other members of the staff were very kind and supportive to me. They helped me through some hard time.
    My training was to a very high standard and I went on to work in a number of good hotels.

    A wonderful home and place to be. I remember that on weekends, they had some fantastic bands play including. ‘Lucas and the Mike Cotton sound’

  9. My father was a local doctor before and after WW2 and a Miss Sparrow, then owner of Alvaston Hall was 1 of his patients. I visited with him a few times and was always amused by the inscription above the fireplace in the main hall: “ad ogni uccello su nido e bello”.
    Later the hall was owned by County Clothes in Crewe, makers of Chester Barrie and Simon Ackerman high class mens wear, originally to be a hostel for mostly Italian women who worked at CC.
    I worked at CC in sales and Mr Myron Ackerman decided to celebrate his international clientele by inviting his largest customers from around the world to a party at the hall. It was a huge success except that the hot water system in use at that time was inadequate for the number of guests. In spite of this, the guests were delighted with the hall and its surroundings.

    1. That’s not true, CC never owned Alvaston Hall at all.
      They owned a large house on Stewart street in Crewe which housed the Italian workers.

      It is now separated into two houses owned by Dave Brooke’s.

      1. I visited Alvaston Hall in the 1950s/1960s and met some of the Italian workers there (ladies). I remember the fireplace motto and the Hall was indeed a ‘nido bello’. I also visited the men’s hostel in Stewart Street where the men lived. They made me a couple of suits . They were mostly from Bari and spoke a very particular Italian, eg per esempio became piu sempre !! Good tailors though.
        No idea whether Sig. Piccolo owned or simply leased the properties.

    2. I knew your father – Ken – he was a great friend and Dr to my grandparents – George and Flo Young who farmed at Rope. I use to go to your parents house in Nantwich often with my grandparents – I have quite a few photos if you are interested.

  10. Hi I remember John freestone hade a night club in the 80s/90s in Eastham on the wirral we where the djs then

    1. Cool. Where in Easton? He had his finger in a lot of pies. Plus a private box at Haydock Park.

      He had a nephew that worked at the hotel but can’t remember his name.

      I’d like to think John was still around, but I doubt it sadly.

      1. Interesting as I am married to Lorraine Wheatley and have been for 32 years, I would love to know what happened to John as he was a true entrepreneur

        1. Hi, my name is Charles Freestone. John was my father and sadly passed away a week ago after cancer took its hold.

  11. I went to music nights at the beau brummell club in the 60s on a Sunday night and the birdcage club on a Saturday. I live in North Wales.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *