Knowsley Hall

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Knowsley Hall
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Knowsley Hall
LocationNear Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Coordinates 53°26′17″N2°50′18″W / 53.4380°N 2.8384°W / 53.4380; -2.8384 Coordinates: 53°26′17″N2°50′18″W / 53.4380°N 2.8384°W / 53.4380; -2.8384
OS grid reference SJ 444 938
Built for Earls of Derby
Architect John Foster, William Burn,
W. H. Romaine-Walker,
Claud Phillimore
Listed Building – Grade II*
Designated9 June 1952
Reference no.1253241
Merseyside UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Merseyside

Knowsley Hall is a stately home near Liverpool in the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley, Merseyside, England. Since 1953 it has been designated a Grade II* listed building, [1] and is the ancestral home of the Stanley family, the Earls of Derby. [2] The hall is surrounded by 2,500 acres (10 km2) of parkland, [2] which contains the Knowsley Safari Park. [3] Though the hall is still owned by the Stanley family, and remains the seat of the Earldom of Derby, it is no longer a family home [4] and instead used for functions such as corporate events, conferences and weddings. [5]

Liverpool City and Metropolitan borough in England

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in North West England, with an estimated population of 491,500. Its metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the UK, with a population of 2.24 million in 2011. The local authority is Liverpool City Council, the most populous local government district in the metropolitan county of Merseyside and the largest in the Liverpool City Region.

Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley Metropolitan borough in England

The Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley is a metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England. It comprises the towns and districts of Kirkby, Prescot, Huyton, Whiston, Halewood, Cronton and Stockbridge Village; Kirkby, Huyton, and Prescot being the major commercial centres. It takes its name from the village of Knowsley, though its headquarters are in Huyton. It forms part of the wider Liverpool City Region.

Merseyside County of England

Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1.38 million. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool. Merseyside, which was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972, takes its name from the River Mersey.



Originally Knowsley was a medieval hunting lodge in the estate of Lathom House. It was inherited by the 10th Earl in 1702 who developed the lodge into a large house. A dairy (since demolished) was designed by Robert Adam, 1776-77. [6] The house was given Gothic castellations and extended further about 1820 [7] to designs by John Foster, William Burn (who provided a boathouse and bridges in the park) [8] and other architects. In the early 20th century it was "tidied up" by W. H. Romaine-Walker for the 17th Earl. After the Second World War, the buildings were considerably reduced by Claud Phillimore, and ceased to be lived in by the family. [9] A smaller - but still substantial - family residence was built in the park. [4]

Lathom House country house in Lancashire, England

Lathom House was a large country house in the parish of Lathom in Lancashire, England. Built between 1725 and 1740, the main block was demolished in 1925.

James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby English politician

James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby, styled The Honourable until 1702, was a British peer and politician.

Robert Adam Scottish neoclassical architect

Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam (1689–1748), Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him. With his older brother John, Robert took on the family business, which included lucrative work for the Board of Ordnance, after William's death.

Earls of Derby

Thomas Stanley was rewarded with the title of Earl Derby in 1485 by Henry VII as a reward for his support at the Battle of Bosworth Field which led to Henry's gaining the crown. The title was taken from the area in South Lancashire called West Derby (and not from the city of Derby). In 1495 Thomas entertained Henry VII at Lathom House and at Knowsley, which was then still a hunting lodge. [10] Thomas, the second Earl, fought with Henry VIII at the Battle of the Spurs in 1513. [11] Ferdinando, the fifth Earl, was a poet and a patron of writers, including William Shakespeare. He held the position of Earl for only one year before dying from arsenic poisoning. [12] James, seventh Earl, was involved in the Civil War as a Royalist supporter of Charles I. Charlotte, his wife, withstood a siege at Lathom Hall for ten weeks in 1644. James fought with Charles I at the Battle of Worcester, was taken prisoner and beheaded at Bolton. He became known as the "Martyr Earl". [13] The massive rebuilding of Knowsley in the early 18th century was carried out by James, the tenth Earl who had become wealthy through his marriage. [14] Edward, the twelfth Earl had a great interest in horseracing and founded the Derby and the Oaks horseraces. He created the State Dining Room for the visit of George IV in 1820–21. In the grounds of Knowsley he maintained a menagerie which contained 94 different species of mammals and 318 species of birds, many of which were rare and valuable. [15] Edward, the 13th Earl created a large library of works relating to natural history and was a champion of Edward Lear, whom he commissioned to paint animals from the menagerie. [16]

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby English nobleman, titular King of Mann and stepfather to King Henry VII of England

Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, KG was an English nobleman and politician. He was a titular King of Mann, and stepfather to King Henry VII of England. He was the eldest son of Thomas Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley and Joan Goushill.

Henry VII of England King of England, 1485–1509

Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death on 21 April 1509. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor.

Battle of Bosworth Field Last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses

The Battle of Bosworth Field was the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, the civil war between the Houses of Lancaster and York that extended across England in the latter half of the 15th century. Fought on 22 August 1485, the battle was won by the Lancastrians. Their leader Henry Tudor, by his victory became the first English monarch of the Tudor dynasty. His opponent, Richard III, the last king of the House of York, was killed in the battle. Historians consider Bosworth Field to mark the end of the Plantagenet dynasty, making it a defining moment of English and Welsh history.

Edward, the 14th Earl was a politician who became Prime Minister three times. He was responsible for steering the Slavery Abolition Act through Parliament and in his third administration the Second Reform Bill was passed. [17] The political tradition was maintained by Frederick, the 16th Earl who became President of the Board of Trade and later was appointed Governor General of Canada. While in Canada he presented the Stanley Cup, the country's premier trophy for ice hockey. [17] Also a politician, Edward George Villiers, the 17th Earl, was Secretary of State for War for two periods, first during the First World War and again from 1922 to 1924. Between these periods he was Ambassador to France. He was also interested in horseracing, winning the Derby three times and owning the successful stallion Hyperion. He was responsible for the major alterations to the house by Romaine-Walker. [18] Edward John, the 18th Earl was awarded the Military Cross in the Second World War, and after the war he reduced the hall to a more manageable size. He founded Knowsley Safari Park in 1971. [19] Restoration of the hall has been continued by Edward Richard William, the 19th and current Earl and his wife, Caroline Emma Neville, daughter of Lord Braybrooke. [19] The family do not live in the hall but in the New House in the grounds near the hall. [4]

Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby British Prime Minister

Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, was a British statesman, three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and, to date, the longest-serving leader of the Conservative Party. He was known before 1834 as Edward Stanley, and from 1834 to 1851 as Lord Stanley. He is one of only four British prime ministers to have three or more separate periods in office. However, his ministries each lasted less than two years and totalled three years and 280 days.

Prime minister most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system

A Prime Minister is the head of a cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. A prime minister is not a head of state or chief executive officer of their respective nation, rather they are a head of government, serving typically under a monarch in a hybrid of aristocratic and democratic government forms.

Slavery Abolition Act 1833 UK parliament act of 1833, abolishing slavery

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 abolished slavery throughout the British Empire. This Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom expanded the jurisdiction of the Slave Trade Act 1807 which made the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal within the British Empire, with the exception of "the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company", Ceylon, and Saint Helena. The Act was repealed in 1997 as a part of wider rationalisation of English statute law; however, later anti-slavery legislation remains in force.


The southern facade of Knowsley Hall circa 1880 showing the Gothicised south wing to the left and the loggia at the end of the east wing on the right Knowsleyhall.jpg
The southern facade of Knowsley Hall circa 1880 showing the Gothicised south wing to the left and the loggia at the end of the east wing on the right


The house consists of a long wing running north-south dating originally from the 1720s to 1737 (the east wing) and at right angles to the west is the south wing, dating originally from around 1495. At the west end of this wing is a detached structure, the Dynamo Tower. [9] The east wing is Georgian in style, built in red brick with stone dressings. The south wing and Dynamo Tower are built in ashlar red sandstone. [1] The oldest part of the south wing is known as the Royal Lodging. On its north side, facing the courtyard, are two round turrets with conical roofs. This face has nine bays with tall sash windows which are divided into groups of three by the towers. [9]

Georgian architecture set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1714 and 1830. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I, George II, George III, and George IV—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830. The style was revived in the late 19th century in the United States as Colonial Revival architecture and in the early 20th century in Great Britain as Neo-Georgian architecture; in both it is also called Georgian Revival architecture. In the United States the term "Georgian" is generally used to describe all buildings from the period, regardless of style; in Britain it is generally restricted to buildings that are "architectural in intention", and have stylistic characteristics that are typical of the period, though that covers a wide range.

Ashlar Finely dressed stone and associated masonry

Ashlar is finely dressed stone, either an individual stone that has been worked until squared or the structure built of it. Ashlar is the finest stone masonry unit, generally cuboid, mentioned by Vitruvius as opus isodomum, or less frequently trapezoidal. Precisely cut "on all faces adjacent to those of other stones", ashlar is capable of very thin joints between blocks, and the visible face of the stone may be quarry-faced or feature a variety of treatments: tooled, smoothly polished or rendered with another material for decorative effect.

Sandstone A clastic sedimentary rock composed mostly of sand-sized particles

Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral particles or rock fragments.

The west side of the east wing, which faces the courtyard, has a total of 19 bays, with seven bays in a central section and six bays on each side. It consists of two storeys over a basement with an attic storey over the middle section. Above the central section is a pediment on the summit of which is sculpture of the eagle and child (the Stanley emblem). The east face of the east wing is particularly long. At the north end are four bays in two storeys; the centre is of nine bays in 2½ storeys; and at the south end are 16 bays, also in 2½ storeys but one storey lower because the land falls away to the south. At the south end of the east wing is a "handsome" two-storey, five-bay stone "portico or loggia" with paired Doric columns on the lower storey and paired fluted Ionic columns above. The east wing then jumps back with six bays facing west until it joins the south wing. [20]

Pediment element in classical, neoclassical and baroque architecture

A pediment is an architectural element found particularly in classical, neoclassical and baroque architecture, and its derivatives, consisting of a gable, usually of a triangular shape, placed above the horizontal structure of the entablature, typically supported by columns. The tympanum, the triangular area within the pediment, is often decorated with relief sculpture.

Portico Type of porch

A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls. This idea was widely used in ancient Greece and has influenced many cultures, including most Western cultures.

Loggia covered exterior gallery

A loggia is an architectural feature which is a covered exterior gallery or corridor usually on an upper level, or sometimes ground level. The outer wall is open to the elements, usually supported by a series of columns or arches. Loggias can be located either on the front or side of a building and are not meant for entrance but as an out-of-door sitting room.


This section describes mainly the rooms which are normally open to the public. The Entrance Hall is panelled in carved oak and is hung with early 18th-century paintings of the house and the park. [21] The Grand Staircase has a collection of oil paintings on leather. [12] The morning room is a light family room overlooking the gardens and parkland. The Breakfast Room has pale blue panels with paintings, one of which is a portrait of Charlotte, wife of the 7th Earl. [22] The Walnut Drawing-Room contains a number of portraits, including one of the second wife of the 12th Earl, the actress Elizabeth Farren. [14] The library contains a collection of books on natural history brought together by the 13th Earl. [17] The Stucco Room, decorated in Rococo style, was created in the 18th century to link the Royal Lodging with the rest of the house is now a ballroom with a sprung floor. [18] The State Dining Room is hung with portraits of family members. [23] The room was designed by Foster to look like a great hall with doors 30 feet (9 m) high and contains two Gothic fireplaces and an ormolu chandelier. It was reworked in 1890, adding a bay window, a carved dado and a roof consisting of a large rectangular lantern supported on brackets which is glazed round its sides. [24] The hall now measures 53 by 37 feet (16 by 11 m) and is 50 feet (15 m) high. [15]


This consists of an area of approximately 2,500 acres (10 km2) surrounded by a stone wall 9 12 miles (15 km) long. [21] It has been registered by English Heritage at Grade II. [25] The park was landscaped in the 1770s by "Capability" Brown, who flooded a 62 acres (25 ha) lake to feed the water-gardens around the hall. [21] The southeast section of the park was made into a safari park in 1971. To the east and northeast of the hall is a chain of lakes, White Man's Dam, the Octagon Pond and the Home Pond. [26] The Octagon was built as a summer house in 1755 [4] and designed by Robert Adam. [21]

The park contains a number of buildings. These include the New House which was built for the 18th Earl and his family, by Phillimore in 1963 in Neo-Georgian style, the stables to the north of the hall which were designed by William Burn in the 1840s, the boathouse of 1837, also by William Burn, the Nest, Home Farm, and a number of lodges. [27]

The parkland also contains the highest point in Knowsley Unitary Authority, 100 metres above sea level, at SJ 456 943. [28]

Present use

Apart from the Safari Park being a tourist attraction, the hall and its grounds are used for a number of purposes. The hall can be booked for conferences and corporate events, [29] and for private events. [30] It is licensed for weddings. [31] Events are held in the grounds to raise money for local charities. [32]

See also

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  2. 1 2 Welcome to the Estate, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  3. Knowsley Safari Park, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  4. 1 2 3 4 Pevsner and Pollard, p. 222.
  5. Knowsley Hall, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  6. Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, 3rd ed. (Yale University Press) 1995, s.v. "Adam, Robert". Adam also designed interiors and furnishings for Derby House, London.
  7. Approximate date given in Colvin 1995, s.v. "Foster, John".
  8. Colvin 1995, s.v. "Burn, William".
  9. 1 2 3 Pollard and Pevsner, pp. 217–218.
  10. Anon. pp. 2–3.
  11. Anon. p. 3.
  12. 1 2 Anon. p. 4.
  13. Anon. pp. 4–5.
  14. 1 2 Anon. p. 6.
  15. 1 2 Anon, p. 7.
  16. Anon. p. 8.
  17. 1 2 3 Anon. p. 9.
  18. 1 2 Anon. p. 10.
  19. 1 2 Anon, p. 11.
  20. Pevsner and Pollard, pp. 218–220.
  21. 1 2 3 4 Anon. p. 2.
  22. Anon. p. 5.
  23. Anon. pp. 3–4.
  24. Pevsner and Pollard, p. 221.
  25. Historic England (2011), "Knowsley Hall (1000997)", National Heritage List for England , retrieved 9 May 2011
  26. Pevsner and Pollard, pp. 221–222.
  27. Pevsner and Pollard, pp. 222–223.
  29. Events, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  30. Private, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  31. Weddings, Knowsley Hall, retrieved 7 October 2010
  32. Anon p. 1.


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