The last Bank Holiday of the spring and the weather is looking none too promising. Cool with showers and the possibility of some late sunny intervals is the best we can expect. Recalling past spring bank holidays stuck in a traffic jam near Tarporley when you looked forward to a probable lay-by picnic of three bean salad, hummous and chicken legs whilst the kids threw blackcurrant juice over the rear seat of the Talbot Solara, we decide to head for the extreme south west of Cheshire to visit Cholmondley Castle and it’s gardens.
Cholmondley is one of those English place names that catch out the unwary with the differences between the written and the spoken versions. Some of my other favourites are Bicester, Belvoir, Blackley, Euxton, Frome and Towcester. ( For the uninitiated:you say Chumley, Bister, Beever, Blakeley, Exton, Froom and Toaster )
I am genetically drawn to this area anyhow, the nearby village of Malpas has long been associated with the Stockton name, as Stocktons were lords of the manor hereabouts from at least 1250:
The Stocktons are of English extraction. The family, which, in point of descent, ranks with the most ancient houses in England, is styled de Stockton in ancient Latin deeds. The family name is derived from two Latin words, Stock and Tun. The meaning of the word Stock is “a place,” the “stem of a tree,” and Tun is a word signifying “inclosure.”
In a pedigree of the Stockton family, taken from an English history at a British museum, we find the name was written de Stockton in primitive days, and, in later times, Stockton. This is the only change the name has undergone in eight hundred years, and is caused merely by the English spelling of the original Saxon words.
The Stockton family, ancient and patrician, in England has been distinguished since since the time of the conquest; and, in this free country, where “worth makes the man,” it has been equally distinguished since 1660.
Their ancestors were anciently Lords of the Manor of Stockton, which they held under the Barony of Malpas. Stockton Manor is in the Town of Malpas, in the Hundred of Broxton, in the County of Cheshire, England, and was granted in the year 1250, in the reign of King Henry III. Besides Stockton Manor, there is a place in the Parish of Malpas called Stockton’s Bank, and a dwelling place called Stockton Hall. In the Church of Malpas are many of the Stockton memorials.
The above extract from the Duval County, Florida Genweb here
So, back to the future, or at least the nineteenth century when Cholmondley castle was built on the site of an earlier house. The Cholmondleys date from merely the sixteenth century it seems, Johnny come lately’s compared to the Stocktons. But these gardens are not open that frequently and it seemed a good opportunity to visit. To reach the area is quite a drive from Mellor as it is situated, as said earlier, in the extreme south west of Cheshire. Drive a little longer and you are soon in Wales or Shropshire. You are rewarded by the pretty sandstone hill country around Burwardsley and Peckforton crossed by quiet lanes and a feeling of undisturbed rural peace.
Cholmondley was quiet too, we counted no more than 10 cars by the entrance to the Temple gardens, ten dots on a broad expanse of a 7,500 acres (30 km2) estate. No matter, it adds to the pleasure, as you walk around and imagine you own the place. We took advantage of a nice homely tea rooms before taking in the farmyard animals and rare breeds. A Tamworth’s ears were “had a go of” and the spitting llama carefully kept a distance from.
The gardens themselves were a treat with some fine specimen trees and shrubs including many fine specimens of Cornous kousa in flower and some ancient, native Oaks and Limes. The gates were especially interesting for the ornate ironwork. As we left , the sun eventually appeared before we drove on to visit Malpas and, later, a little corner of Wales for the hell of it.
We drove back to Mellor, listening to Swansea reaching the Premiership and Sri Lanka throwing away a test match with an outrageous collapse.