Alderley Park was a country house in a park of the same name at Nether Alderley, Cheshire, between Macclesfield and Knutsford. It was formerly an AstraZeneca facility but was recently purchased by family-owned property company, Bruntwood. The site has an international reputation as a world-class home for bio and life sciences and is also home to the BioHub Incubator. The site is also set to be home to commercial office space, retail units and residential properties.
The house was constructed in brick with a stone facade for the 7th Baronet Stanley. Building started in 1818 on a site in the south of the park. The new house grew to a size of sixty bedrooms and six entertaining rooms, of which only one room, with its oak panelling and coats of arms intact, remains. Behind the house a walled garden and a water garden were created and the mill pond enlarged. In 1931, however, the house was severely damaged by fire and left empty for nearly twenty years until converted in 1950 by the ICI chemical group to serve as the headquarters of their new pharmaceutical division. The gardens and some outbuildings have been preserved and many thousands of trees planted.
The manor of Over Alderley came into the Stanley family when heiress Elizabeth Weever married John Stanley, a brother of the Earl of Derby. In the 1580s John Stanley's descendant, Thomas Stanley, built a mansion house on a moated site near the mill at Nether Alderley. Thomas died in 1591.
The adjacent manor of Nether Alderley had been confiscated by the crown in 1508 from the estate of Sir William Stanley after his conviction and execution for supporting Perkin Warbeck. It was sold in 1556 to Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth who sold it on for £2000 to Thomas Stanley, jnr in 1602. Thomas was knighted by King James in 1603.
The Stanley family subsequently occupied the hall for around two hundred years until it was severely damaged by fire in 1779. The 7th Baronet then commissioned a new hall to be constructed in 1818 in the south of the estate on a site then occupied by Park House.
The new hall was subsequently occupied by further generations of the Stanley family until 1931, when it too was damaged by fire during the occupation of Edward Stanley, 6th Baron Stanley of Alderley and had to be partially demolished and left unoccupied. The sixth Lord's finances had suffered from the effects of two expensive divorces, gambling losses and death duties and in 1938 he decided to sell the estate piecemeal, involving the disposal of 77 farms and 166 houses. No offers were received for the hall itself and it stood empty for nearly twenty years.
In 1950 the dilapidated hall and 350 acres (140 hectares) of surrounding parkland were purchased, with planning permission to develop, by ICI Pharmaceuticals for 55,000 pounds. Work began in 1957 on a site by Radnor Mere (the enlarged mill pond) to provide office and laboratory facilities, initially for ICI and latterly for AstraZeneca, and which now house some 3,500 staff. It is a global lead centre for cancer research and a number of anti-cancer treatments that have been developed at the site including Nolvadex, Zoladex, Casodex, Arimidex and Iressa.
Work on the latest Alderley Hall began in 1963, and incorporates a surviving part of the previous building. Originally the ballroom, this part is now named the Sir James Black Conference Centre in honour of the discoverer of beta-blockers. The gardens and the woodlands have been restored and the nearby Grade II listed Home Farm buildings preserved. The latter includes coach-houses, cottages and barns of hand-made English orange brick and a six-sided columbarium or dovecote.
In March 2013, AstraZeneca announced plans to cease R&D work at Alderley Park. A total of 1,600 jobs will be relocated over three years, mainly to Cambridge. The company plans to continue non-R&D work at the site. In March 2014, Alderley Park was purchased by Bruntwood and is now undergoing significant capital re-development to create a destination for living, working and recreation, offering high specification laboratory and office space.
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