Leighton Hall, Powys

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Leighton Hall is an estate located outside Welshpool in Powys, Wales. A grade 1 listed property[1] it is located on the opposite side of the valley to Powis Castle. It is notable for being a precursor of the The Great Exhibition of 1851 in demonstrating the practical use of Victorian "industrial" farming methods; and the birthplace of the now much disparaged hybrid Cupressocyparis leylandii hedge tree. The Hall is now in private ownership and is not accessible to the public, although it can still be viewed from the road.


In 1845, the Leighton Hall estate was purchased from the Corbett family of Shropshire by Liverpool banker Christopher Leyland. In 1847, he gave it as a wedding present to his nephew John Naylor (1813–1889) who then proceeded to rebuild the house and estate at a reputed cost of £275,000, plus an additional £200,000 on the farm technology.[2]

The house was rebuilt in a Gothic style, with the exterior and estate buildings designed by Liverpool architect W H Gee, and a Palace of Westminster interior style by Augustus Pugin. The buildings constructed at the time included the Church of the Holy Trinity, still in regular use today.[2]


Leighton Poultry House

Naylor spent £200,000 between 1848 and 1856 on revamping the 4000-acre (1.620ha) farm on the same industrial principles as that of HRH Albert, the Prince Consort's farm in Windsor Great Park. The Nantcribba Hall Farm included:[2][3]

  • a water-powered turbine generating electricity for distribution over the estate
  • a gasworks supplying heat and light
  • Glan-Hafren Farm Barn
  • a fowl house housing Pekin bantams and a dovecote. Restored by Cadw, it can be visited by the public today
  • Cil-Cewydd Corn mill, to create flour and animal feed
  • industrial support works including a saw mill, wheelwright's shop and smithy
  • a funicular railway that carried manure slurry from the farm buildings up to a storage tank at the top of Moel y Mab
  • Nantcribba Cottages, built for housing farm workers


Naylor commissioned Edward Kemp, a pupil of Sir Joseph Paxton, to lay out the gardens. Kemp laid out a decorative water cascade fed from a series of lakes, which sequenced down from the Moel y Mab.[2] He then developed the estate's Park Wood, making use—like many Victorians of the time—of exotic species including monkey puzzle trees. The 1857 Charles Ackers Memorial Redwood grove - the largest and oldest grove of coast redwoods in Europe - and the historic Naylor pinetum are today listed Grade 1 locations,[1] now managed by the Royal Forestry Society.[4]

Cupressocyparis leylandii[edit]

Main article: Leyland Cypress

Kemp in his garden layout had placed two disparate Pacific coast North American species of conifers in close proximity to each other:

The two parent species would never have met in the wild as their natural ranges are thousands of miles apart, but in 1888 the hybrid cross occurred when the female flowers or cones of Nootka Cypress were fertilised by pollen from Monterey Cypress, to create the first Cupressocyparis leylandii.[5]

As John Naylor died the following year, his eldest son Christopher John Naylor (1849–1926) inherited Leighton Hall from his father in 1889. A sea captain by trade who commanded a ship known as the I.S.S. Enterprise, in 1891 on inheriting the Leyland Entailed Estates established under the will of his great-great-uncle, which passed to him following the death of his uncle Thomas Leyland (née Naylor); Christopher John changed his surname to Leyland, and moved to Haggerston Castle, Northumbria. He further developed the hybrid at his new home, and hence named the first clone variant Haggerstown Grey. His younger brother John Naylor (1856–1906) resultantly inherited Leighton Hall, and when in 1911 the reverse hybrid of the cones of the Monterey Cypress were fertilised with pollen from the Nootka, that hybrid was baptised Leighton Green.[5]

Modal Farm Buildings≈ The Potter Group purchased the historic Leighton Farm Complex in 2010. The formal transfer of the Victorian model farm, with seven houses and 200 acres of land, was completed from Powys County Council by James Potter. The move, which was approved by the council’s cabinet earlier this summer, paves the way for the restoration of the Grade II listed building.

Powys Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Governance and Assets, Property, Councillor Kath Roberts-Jones said; “The transfer completion will safeguard the long term future of this important site and provide a significant boost to the local community.

James Potter's long term proposal is to create an equine centre at Leighton, building on his current National Hunt interests, and this presents tremendous possibilities for future regeneration, not just in the Welshpool area, but the wider Severn Valley.

In August 2013 YORTON FARM announced it is relocating its entire operation, including its four stallions, to Leighton Farm Buildings. Owners David and Teresa Futter plan to add stables and stud facilities to the existing four acres of buildings already in place on the property.

See also[edit]

  • Powis Castle - a grade 1 National Trust property located on the opposite side of the valley
  • Garthmyl Hall, a Grade II listed house in Berriew. Garthmyl Hall was completely rebuilt in 1859 by the architect James K Colling for Major-General William George Gold, at the expense of John Naylor of Leighton Hall.


  1. ^ a b "Leighton Hall". University of York. Archived from the original on 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Leighton Hall - A History". BBC Mid-Wales. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  3. ^ "Forden, Powys and Chirbury, Shropshire". Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  4. ^ "Notable Tree Collections in Powys". treeregister.org. Retrieved 2008-11-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Leyland Cypress - X Cupressocyparis leylandii". Royal Forestry Society. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°38′01″N 3°07′22″W / 52.6336°N 3.1228°W / 52.6336; -3.1228