Henbury Hall, Cheshire

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Henbury Hall
Henbury Hall
General information
Type Country house
Architectural style Neo-Palladian
Town or city Henbury
Country England
Coordinates 53°15′11″N 2°11′51″W / 53.25318°N 2.19739°W / 53.25318; -2.19739Coordinates: 53°15′11″N 2°11′51″W / 53.25318°N 2.19739°W / 53.25318; -2.19739
Construction started 1984
Completed 1986
Client Sebastian Ferranti
Design and construction
Architect Julian Bicknell
Other designers Felix Kelly

Henbury Hall is a country house located about 1 mile (1.6 km) to the southwest of the village of Henbury, Cheshire, England. The present house was built in the 1980s in Neo-Palladian style, its design being based on Palladio's Villa Rotonda.[1][2][3]


Depiction of Henbury Hall in the 1707 Britannia Illustrata

A hall known as Henbury Hall existed in the area in the 17th century.[4]

A Neoclassical style hall was built on the present site in 1742. It was sold by Sir William Meredith to John Bower Jodrell in 1779 for £24,000[5] and passed on to his son Francis Bower Jodrell in 1796. John Charles Ryle, the banker and MP for Macclesfield, bought it in 1835 for £54,000 and sold it following his bankruptcy to Thomas Marsland, first MP for Stockport (1776–1854) in 1842. The hall was remodelled in a more severe Neoclassical style in the early part of the 19th century, and then stuccoed and drastically reduced in size in the 1850s. The estate passed to his grandson Edward Marsland (died 1857) whose widow Jane Marsland was forced to sell after a disastrous flood in 1872.[citation needed]

It was bought for £9000 and extensively remodelled by local silk manufacturer Thomas Unett Brocklehurst. In 1876 Brocklehurst reputedly imported a pair of grey squirrels from America and released them into the estate with ultimately disastrous results for the native red squirrel.[6] The Brocklehurst family remained in residence at Henbury for several generations.[citation needed]

In 1957 the estate was bought by Sir Vincent de Ferranti.[a] He demolished the existing house and commissioned the architect Harry Fairhurst to convert the stable block for his own residential use.[b] After the death of Sir Vincent in 1980, his son Sebastian and the designer Felix Kelly, who had already been involved with some work on the Henbury estate, came up with the idea of creating a house in the style of a Palladian temple. Kelly executed an oil painting based on Villa Rotondo, a house near Vicenza built in 1552 and designed by Andrea Palladio. Sebastian then commissioned the architect Julian Bicknell to create a design similar to Kelly's painting.[2] The new building was completed in 1986.[3] Sebastian lived there with his wife Gillian until his death on 15 October 2015.[8]


The neo-Palladian house (left) and converted stables (right)


Henbury Hall is constructed in brick and concrete which is faced with limestone from northeast France, with the roof in local stone. The dome is in lead, with a lantern in gunmetal and gilded copper.[3] It has a plan of 56 feet (17 m) square, with four-way symmetry.[1] There is a rusticated basement, and an Ionic portico on each side. A stairway leads up to the south front. Within each portico is a Venetian window. Life-size statues by Simon Verity stand on the pediments. Topping the house is a dome surmounted by a lantern.[2]


The dining and drawing rooms are on the first floor (second floor in American usage) or piano nobile, on the east and west sides of a central great hall which is open to the dome, with smaller rooms in the corners. In the basement is a central hall surrounded by kitchens and accommodation for the staff.[2] The upper floor has a gallery overlooking the great hall, with six bedrooms with bathrooms and dressing rooms.[3] The great hall has a floor of English limestone and Purbeck marble. The internal decoration is by David Mlinaric, with carving of the doorcases by Dick Reid of York.[1]


Although Henbury Hall is based on the Villa Rotonda, there are significant differences. The major difference is that it has a smaller plan, with porticos of four rather than six columns. Venetian windows have been inserted behind the porticos. The entrance is at basement, rather than at piano nobile, level, and the profile of the dome is higher.[9]


  1. ^ Sir Vincent was the son of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, creator of the electrical engineering firm Ferranti.[1]
  2. ^ The converted stable block is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Hartwell, Clare; Hyde, Matthew; Hubbard, Edward; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2011) [1971], Cheshire, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 395–396, ISBN 978-0-300-17043-6 
  2. ^ a b c d de Figueiredo, Peter; Treuherz, Julian (1988), Cheshire Country Houses, Chichester: Phillimore, pp. 111–114, ISBN 0-85033-655-4 
  3. ^ a b c d Henbury Rotunda, Cheshire, Julian Bicknell Associates, retrieved 4 August 2012 
  4. ^ "Welcome to Henbury village". Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  5. ^  William Prideaux Courtney (1894). "Meredith, William". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 37. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  6. ^ "RSPB". Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Historic England, "Henbury Hall (1139299)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 4 August 2012 
  8. ^ Sebastian de Ferranti, businessman - obituary, Daily Telegraph, retrieved 16 November 2015 
  9. ^ Henbury Hall, Royal Institute of British Architects, retrieved 4 August 2012