“ Altrincham, WA14 4J. Tel: +44 (0)161 941 1025. „
Dunham Massey is an extensive Georgian property sitting between Warrington and Manchester. It was home to one of the most influential families in the area and (at times) the kingdom before it was handed to the National Trust in 1976.
Dunham Massey is fairly easy to find. The simplest way is to take the A56 towards Altrincham. It's also pretty accessible from the M6 or the M56 and once you get close, it's well-signed with lots of the usual National Trust brown signs, making it hard to miss.
A Brief History Lesson
Dunham Massey is the ancestral home of the Earls of Warrington and Stamford, remaining in the same family from the 1600s until the late 1970s, when the last Earl died and handed the property over to the National Trust. Since then, it has been opened as one of the north west's biggest stately homes, with an extensive set of formal gardens and parklands (full of deer) as an added attraction.
It's Quite Roomy Then!
The first thing to say about Dunham Massey is that it is absolutely huge and you need to allow yourself a good chunk of time to look around it. The property has 108 rooms in total and whilst not all of these are open to the public, a significant number are. The house seems to go on for ever, with new rooms off every corridor. Quite how the people who lived and worked there ever found their way around is beyond me! I would say you need to allow yourself at least two hours to wander around the whole property - even longer if you like to stop and admire things in detail. And all that is before you've wandered around the formal gardens, deer park and mill.
Each room is packed with furniture and, unusually for a house of this age and size, almost all of it belongs at Dunham and was bought and used by the family at some point. This is now quite rare these days, as many families sold their possessions over the years to pay for the upkeep of the property, or as it went out of fashion.
One nice aspect was that, where possible, you were given greater freedom to wander around the rooms, not just stare at things from behind a roped-off area. Where conservation issues allowed, rooms were just open and, as long as you didn't touch, you could go where you wished.
Despite all of this, I never really warmed that much to Dunham. Reflecting its long use as a real home, The house was a hotch-potch of different styles of furnishings. The fact that the furniture is native to Dunham should make it more appealing, but oddly, this mix of style works against it. Dunham felt rather empty and soulless to me. It had a very sterile feel and felt more like a musty old museum than a grand stately home that was once full of life. Somehow it felt sad, empty and abandoned and left me feeling a little melancholy.
Our visit didn't get off to the best of starts thanks to a rather officious, jobs-worth woman on the main door. She didn't exactly make us feel very welcome, demanding to see our tickets and then partially castigating us for standing in the open doorway when it was raining. She then sent one poor family (with a young baby) all the way back across the courtyard in the pouring rain because - even though they were National Trust members and could show their cards - they hadn't picked up a white Dunham ticket from the main ticket office.
Thankfully, she was something of a one-off and the rest of the guides were actually rather good. They were friendly and knowledgeable but, unlike some properties, not intrusive. They tended to stay in the background, but willing to answer your questions when asked, and I saw several engaged in interesting discussions with visitors about particular rooms.
Elsewhere, A4 sheets were available in each room to tell you about specific things. These were slightly variable. In some rooms they were very good, giving you lots of information about the history and development in that room; in others the information was quite sparse and rather dull.
It was also frustrating that there were lots of things (particularly pictures) about which there was no information at all. Who were the people in the pictures? Who painted them? When? Why? Where? These were all things I would have like to have known, but I'll be forever left in the dark.
Once you have finished in the house, you can go for a walk around the parklands or the formal gardens, which in themselves will take quite a while. The nature of the gardens will obviously differ, depending on the time of year you go, but they were certainly packed with plants and flowers of all kinds. This is really not my kind of thing at all, but Mrs SWSt was in her element. The parklands, meanwhile, are full of very tame deer that will let you get very close before they amble off. It was tipping it down with rain on the day we went, so our use of the gardens and parklands was fairly limited, but I do know from past experience how pleasant they are to walk around. We also didn't visit the mill at the property, so I can't comment on that at all.
Dunham Massey is one of those properties you need to be a little bit careful with and check the opening hours before you go. During the summer period, the house is open from 11:00-17:00 Mondays-Thursdays, but does not open at all on Fridays or Saturdays. The mill is open 12-4pm Mondays to Thursdays, the gardens 11:00-17:30 each day and the parkland 09:00-17:30 daily. Confusing, eh? Throw in shorter times for the Autumn/winter months and you can see why I suggest you check before you go!
Dunham Massey is one of the more expensive properties around, costing £10.35 for an adult for the whole property (£5.20 for children) and still a whopping £7.20 if you just want to do the gardens (£3.60 for children). This is a lot and can soon become expensive for a family. We got in for free as National Trust members, so it wasn't too bad.
In fairness, you do get a lot for your money - a big, well-furnished house, extensive gardens and parklands and a mill. Even so, I can't help but feel that it's rather over-priced and if I'd paid to get in, I think I might have been left with a sense of mild disappointment
Facilities & Access
Dunham Massey is pretty well off for facilities. There is a fairly extensive restaurant/tearoom, which provides a variety of food ranging from hot or cold snacks and sandwiches to full meals. Prices are fairly reasonable and although we only had a scone and some coffee, it was very nice. There's also an area of the restaurant set aside as a kid's play area, which is a nice touch. This is set apart from the main restaurant, so that the children can be as noisy as they like without disturbing other visitors and parents can sit in there with them to eat and keep an eye on them.
Toilets are provided on site (although only in one location) and the ubiquitous shop is quite a lot larger than many other properties and sells a wider range of things beyond the traditional NT stuff.
On the whole, I enjoyed my visit to Dunham, although I might have felt slightly disappointed had I paid full price for entry. There's a lot to see and masses of rooms to investigate, but the slightly sterile, empty feel got to me after a while. It had been about 20 years since I last visited the house and whilst I don't regret going, I can well see if being another 20 years before I feel the need to go back.
© Copyright SWSt 2013
Dunham Massey is run by the national trust. Standard admission for an adult is £9.90 for the house and garden if you're not a national trust member. I would recommend national trust membership as it gives you access to over 300 properties plus those in Scotland and some other countires.
Dunham is a large Georgian mansion set within impressive grounds and gardens. It also has a deer park and you get much closer to the deer at Dunham Massey than you do at Tatton Park for example. There are signs telling you not to approach them but this weekend there were children feeding them leaves!
It is a great place for the whole family. For the children there's the animals - deer, chickens and ducks and particularly in the summer there's things put on for the children, for example this weekend there looked to be ropes and harnesses attached to trees for them to climb.
I've visited to the property a couple of times, it's a huge house and is very interesting and stunning. However, this weekend I took my mum who uses a wheelchair and there's only a couple of rooms that are accessible. It wasn't a problem this weekend because the weather was great and so we were able to enjoy the lovely grounds.
The garden is lovely and the grounds are great for a walk. The restaurant, like other national trust places, uses locally produced foods (some grown on site) and uses local recipes - the Manchester Tart was delicious!
My family and I are proud members of the National Trust and have visited many of the places that the National Trust have to offer, such as Lyme Hall in Cheshire, Beatrix Potters house in Sowry, Sizergh castle near Kendal and Dunahm Massey hall in Cheshire, and it is Dunham Massey Hall, which is situated in the small parish called Dunham Massey, Trafford., together with the deer park, that I am going to tell you about today.
* Firstly, a bit about the hall...
The Georgian Hall and dear park are situated in 300 acres of land, it was initially built in 1616 by Sir George Booth and has had several 'face lifts' since then with the most recent one being in 1908 by Joseph Compton Hall.
In and around the middle of the 1700's the deer park was developing, being enclosed in a three mile long brick wall.
During the 18th century the 2nd Earl planted 100,00 trees in and around the grounds, turning the area into a dramatic landscape as the trees began to bloom.
Inside the hall itself the walls are covered in wood carvings, tapestry's and paintings, with each room containing such things as a white marble sculpture of the Emperor Hadrian, a display case filled with silver ornaments, wooden carvings, and more.
During the first world war it was used as a military hospital.
The Hall, together with the stables and carriage house are all grade 1 listed buildings.
In 1976 it was donated to the National Trust by the 10th Earl of Stamford and they have taken care of it ever since.
So know the general public can see the Georgian Hall, Medieval Moat, Ancient tree, Fallow deer and much more at their leisure.
** WHERE IS DUNHAM MASSEY HALL AND DEER PARK..?
The actual address of the Hall and deer park is ...
Telephone: 0161 941 1025
OS reference 109:SJ735874
** GETTING THERE... (information taken from N.T. web site)
* Car... 3 miles south east of Altringham, off the A56, Junction 19 M6/ junction 7 M56
* Bus... Warrington coach ways 38 Altringham, Warrington borough transport 5
* Train... Altringham station and Hale station both 3 miles away
* By foot... close to the Trans-Penine trail and Bridgewater canal
* Cycling... NCN62 1 mile on the National Cycle network
** OPENING TIMES...
House... 11-5 February -October, (closed Thursday and Friday)
Garden... 11-4 October - February / 11-5.30 February -October
Restaurant and shop... 10:30- October - February/ 10:30 February -October
Mill... 12-4... February - October (closed Thursday and Friday)
White Cottage... 2-5pm February- October Sundays only
Park ... 9-5 all year except Christmas day
There are guided tours around the house, although these are restricted and do take some time to get around as you stop and listen in every room.
During the season, March to October, the gates remain open until 7:30pm and the last admission to the house is 30 minutes before closing.
** THE COST...
* £5.00 cars, £1.50 motorbikes
** House and garden (price in brackets are gift aid admission prices)
January to March...
* Adult £8.50 (£9.40)
* Child £4.25 (£4.70)
* Family £21.25 (£23.50) 2 adults and up to 3 children
April to December...
* Adult £9.05 (£10.00)
* Child £4.50 (£5.00)
* Family £22.60 (£25.00) 2 adults and up to 3 children
There are a few 'set' walks on offer, such as ...
* Nature walk, which takes you around the grounds on a 1.5 mile walk, this can take up to 90 minutes to complete. It starts and ends at the clock tower, taking you around a section of the deer park, passing many beautiful scenes as you go. This walk is easy and pushchairs can be brought for the youngsters, although wheelchairs users may find the terrain a little tricky.
* Fallow deer walk, which is a 2 mile walk and can take a couple of hours to complete. This walk too starts and finishes at the clock tower, taking you on a different route around the deer park, passing the slaughter house, the deer barn, the mill and the stables. This walk is a little more of a difficult terrain and wheelchairs/pushchairs are not advised.
* History tour, which is about a quarter of a mile and takes twenty minute at the most.
This walk is for everyone as the terrain is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
It starts and finishes at, you guessed it, the clock tower, then takes you passed the moat, an ancient oak tree, which is limbless apparently. Then you pass the cottages, stables, the water mill and the stable yard.
A well detailed map is offered for free showing both routes and the grounds themselves.
** DISABILITY ACCESS...
Access for the disabled is good, but not great. There are several disabled parking slots in the car park and during the season a shuttle bus is laid on to cover the 200 yard walk.
But there are several steps to the house and inside so wheelchairs will struggle getting around certain parts.
There are steps into the restaurant but a lift is there for wheelchair access and the toilets are all wheel chair friendly.
As for the grounds themselves, the paths are mainly flat and very wide indeed, and disability scooter are available for free but pre-booking is advised as there are only a few of these.
** MY OPINION...
I like to stroll around lovely places and quiet landscapes, enjoying both the tranquillity of it all and the slight bit of education I may encounter as I go, so joining the National Trust was a must for me.
When I first visited Dunham Massey I could only wonder around the grounds surrounding the Hall and garden, due to the fact that I had my dog with me and he wasn't allowed in the garden and hall, but the walks around the deer park was a breath of fresh air indeed.
Inside the grounds there lies the Hall itself, together with other buildings such as a small water mill and more, and there are plenty of places to enjoy a nice picnic, either on the well maintained lawns of one of the many picnic tables which are scattered around the grounds.
For the kids, and some adults, there is a little play area which is made out of logs, giving the chance to scramble around over trees and stumps.
The walk is so peaceful, taking in the beautiful vista as we gently strolled around as the deer grazed within the trees. We mixed up the walks covering a section of each one, basically walking around the entire grounds, taking quite a while to do so. But on our way out we vowed to return to pay a visit to the hall and the gardens, without my dog, which we did, and I'm glad we did.
So the next time we went we were more aware of our surrounding and, without worrying about the dog and his love of trying to chase fast moving animals, we set about or family day out.
We parked up in the ample sized car park, which is a couple of hundred yards from the entrance to the main grounds, but the 200 yards is a rather pleasant walk as you pass the pond and moat, watching the wildlife stroll around, don't panic, when I say wildlife I don't mean lions and tigers, I mean more like ducks and deer, maybe a frog or two as well.
Then, after you park up you simply follow the main path towards the hall itself, walking around what looks a little like a moat. Then you enter the area around the Hall, passing the 'ticket office' which gives you the option of paying to get into the Hall and gardens, or just walk around the grounds for free.
To the right, as you walk under the clock tower, there lies the toilets and the restaurant, whilst on the left, slightly ahead of you, is the Hall itself and the entrance to the gardens.
The Stable restaurant is a good sized, capable of holding up to 200 people, but can be rather expensive, It sells refreshments and the like just in case you forget to pack a picnic, but I would advice taking your own food as eating in the restaurant for a family may mean taking out a second mortgage.
The toilets are well presented and offer a baby changing facility, (this doesn't mean you can change your baby for a Nintendo Wii of course). Plus you can hire baby carrying devices such as baby slings and infant seats, which comes in handy if you want to walk around for a while and have forgotten the pram.
Then, under the clock tower, there is the office where you have to get your tickets from, even if you are a member of the Trust, choosing whether to go into both the house and garden or just the house. We opted for both as it was free, (sort of).
If you opt to go around the garden you are given a map, which you have to return, and, if you have younger kids, they may be given a little quest to complete, answering a few questions about birds as they wonder around.
My two kids quite enjoyed running around the garden trying to find the answers to the questions on the sheet, getting a sticker at the end when they'd answered them all.
The gardens are well designed offering a lot of different colours and plants for all to enjoy, knowing the names of the plants as you read the names from the leaflet we were given at the little hut as we entered.
The garden itself is quite a size and has some beautiful flowers to admire as you walk around, with some vast green lawn areas to sit and relax.
There is also a Victorian Bark House, a water pump house, which is very dark inside, and a Orangery.
There is not rush at all to get around and there is no feeling of being pushed aside as a hoard of screaming kids come rushing at you.
Then we headed for the Hall itself, which was a very pleasant experience indeed and, like the garden, offered a little quiz for the youngsters to complete as they walked around, looking for things in each room and ticking them off on a sheet of paper, this in turn educates their minds in a stealth sort of way, which is pretty crafty indeed.
Inside the hall itself the walls are covered in wood carvings, tapestry's and paintings, with each room containing such things as a white marble sculpture of the Emperor Hadrian, a display case filled with silver ornaments, wooden carvings, and more. It is in fact a mass of education and so much to take in on one visit, even if you are given a guide to try and help you.
We followed the set path inside, a one way system if you like, wondering from room to room, stopping and taking in the many things in each one, such as a room stuffed with silver, a gallery packed with paintings and a lot more too, including a very well presented kitchen which smelt like it was in use, having some rather lovely cake making aromas wafting through the air, delicious.
Then we were done, we had visited the garden and the Hall, enjoying both very much indeed, but feeling that we had to come back at least one more time to have another look around, maybe on a brighter day so the short showers we had had on this visit wouldn't spoil the garden walk. But most of all to wonder around the Hall to see the things that we had no doubt missed on this first visit, as we tried to help out kids find the clue to the quiz they were given.
The only downside I have to mention, which is nothing to do with the building or grounds themselves. The visit was slightly marred by a rather rude member of staff inside the Hall itself. What I mean by that is that on the website, and leaflets, it states that you can play the piano and play with the Edwardian games in the gallery. But when we were in the gallery we witnessed this rude member of staff telling off a couple of people as they played the piano. I know the room was pretty quiet but if it states that you're allowed to play the piano, even the sign on the piano says so, then rude members of staff should not punish people for playing it. This lady then proceeded to follow these 'guest' around the rooms, stopping and waiting as they paused in each one. This must have made those 'guest' feel so uncomfortable, it made me feel a little uncomfortable as I witnessed this and the rude member of staff was not even watching me.
All the other members of staff were polite and so very helpful indeed, apart from this one lady who I felt should not have been mingling with members of the public in the firs place. I won't say her name in full but I will say that her first name begins with a J, according to her name badge.
Anyway, this was only a slight marring of what was indeed a very nice relaxing day indeed and well worth another visit in the not to distant future.
So, if you're ever near Dunham Massey and feel like you need to have a bit of tranquillity then take a look inside, even if you just pay the £5.00 car park fee and wonder around the 'free' section of the grounds, you'll not regret it at all. But i do highly recommend visiting the garden and the Hall at least once, it is stunning and has some rather fascinating history behind it.
Following a recent trip to Chester we decide to stop off at Dunham Massey on the way home. As we are members of the National Trust we often try to break up our journeys on holiday with a National Trust visit as these are much more pleasant to stop in than motorway cafes. Whilst I believe the property has a Mill we didn't visit this area so is not included in this review.
The property is 3 miles south-west of Altrincham off A56. Our route finder map took us straight there with no problems. When you enter the park you drive up and pass an entrance gate/ kiosk where you have to pay your parking fee so make sure you have your money or National Trust cards ready to show as queues seem to build up quickly. The parking is all in tree line parking bays and which are about a 5-10 minute walk from the entrance of the property. According to the National Trust website there is a bus that drops you off near by.
The Hall was initially built in 1616 by Sir George Booth, the Hall has undergone several remodelling including by John Norris for George, Earl of Stamford and Warrington between 1732 and 1740; by John Hope towards the end of the 18th century and by Joseph Compton Hall between 1905 and 1908. The hall itself includes a stables carriage house and are all Grade I listed buildings. The Hall is moated and lies immediately west of the village of Dunham, with the deer park lying to the south. The hall was donated to the National Trust by the last Earl of Stamford, in 1976. The hall has been used in the past as a military hospital during the First World War.
The walk from the car park to the property started off a magical visit for us as a family as my 3 year old was very quickly transfixed by the sight of two beautiful swans and their 3 cygnets we all watched these majestic birds gliding on the moat area as people feed them. To our left we spotted a small fountain down a hill and a squirrel that was running up to people for food. Now the squirrel was a grey but it still delighted my son. Be warned though this is a short distance to walk as the path is busy with people admiring swans and the view it takes a while to navigate. You then pass through a double gated entrance and are meet by the sight of the deer's in the deer park I can honestly say I have never seen such tame and friendly deer's they just walk right past you and on the occasion we were there the deer's just laid there sunbathing by the side of the buildings. Again my son couldn't believe how close we were to these animals and was just transfixed by them and I am sure any animal mad youngest would love this property. But you do have to be careful as these deer's do what comes naturally a lot and there is as my son delighted in telling everyone lots of deer poo around so watch your step.
You then need to go to the stable block entrance to get a white ticket to gain admittance to the gardens or the house; the park is free with the parking so it can be a cheap trip if you live close by.
We choose to go around the house first and wandered up the steps now this may have been a mistake as son was so full of beans we did the house at break neck speed so were only able to enjoy some of the highlights of it. The house is set out so that you follow as certain way around. We were asked if we want to leave our bag in the cloakroom and we took this offer up and were given a token with a number on to collect it on our return. The lady who took our bag was very helpful making sure we had our camera out of our bag if we wanted to take photos as this is possible in the house without the use of a flash.
The house is a Georgina in period and has many beautiful things in it to admire but there are a few living exhibits as it were in the hall. This included the dining room this was moved and recreated in around 1906. This work involved removal of internal wall and the floor lowering to lengthen the windows, creating a small bay overlooking the moat to let in the light. The table was set with a pristine white cloths and highly polished silver ware and there was a man dressed as a butler preparing the room for the lunch who was answering questions on the room. The butler whilst not looking fierce was enough to make my son go shy so we didn't get to linger long here.
The kitchen area was also staffed with a cook and her attendants with its high ceilings and numerous windows to gave maximum ventilation it seemed quite an airy room however I am sure it would have been very hot and steamy when in full use. Interestingly Lord Warrington had added a gallery so they could inspect the kitchen without having to set foot downstairs. There is also a chef's room and butlers pantry fully laid out with meat safes and bell boards all of which was fascinating to me and my son.
The other room that we spent some time in rather than having a whistle stop tour was the gallery area which has a piano you can play and it also a card table set out with some card games for you to play and a wonderful snakes and ladders game my son and I enjoy a quick game of this in between tinkling on the piano.
Recollecting our bags at the end was simple to do and the whole process was nice and easy and gave my shoulder a break.
When we ready to visit the gardens we went through the entrance and were given the chance to buy some chicken food to feed the chickens that are clearing a section of the garden to make way for a rose garden. You can also borrow a croquet set if you choose but having learnt that large wooden mallets and my son don't go as yet we declined this offer but got some chicken food for 50 pence. You can also borrow a map of the gardens as you enter and I would definitely recommend doing so as the gardens are extensive and to avoid missing bits a map was certainly helpful to us.
One of the most unusual features of this garden is the winter garden which contains almost 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs to be included in the winter garden they have at least two of the following characteristics of interest: winter bark, flower, fruit, autumn color or scent and sound. Now we visited in the summer and I am all for a return visit in the winter to enjoy this delight as I have never been around a garden designed for this season before. I think the snowdrop walk in particular with over 12,000 of these beautiful flowers sounds a fabulous idea and to smell some winter honeysuckle I think would be enchanting.
The garden is large with lots of colorful Rhododendrons, shrubs, and when we went the giant lilies we just coming to the end of their bloom and looked a bit bedraggled in the main but some were still spectacular to look at and avid gardeners seem to be taking a lot of photos.
There are also some historic features such as a Victorian Bark House this has a well to the rear and is definitely worth a look. There is an18th century Orangery complete with plants that puts Mister Everest orangeries to shame as it so wonderful to look at and well constructed
Various paths and a bridge will lead you to different parts of the garden where you will see more stunning plants and trees and I would definitely advocate looking out for the dog graves as this avenue in which they are buried gives you a wonderful view across the moat of Dunham Massey Hall and if you are lucky like we were on this occasion the swans will have come out of the moat to give themselves a groom and you can pick up a swan feather.
There is also an opportunity to have a guided tour of the garden and the meeting point for this is at the entrance gate to the garden.
There is a lot of wildlife around the gardens such as birds, dragonflies dancing across the moat and several well fed rabbits.
The rose garden at present is being cleared and is home to some rescued battery chickens as well as some rare breed chickens. These are kept free range as it were behind some chicken wire, but these plump chickens know when some one comes near them it is feeding time and they generally cluck and cause a commotion to get the most grain. My son enjoyed feeding them and popping the grain through the holes in the chicken wire. Older children were throwing it over the top. The idea is these birds will clear the ground of weeds and fertilize the coil ready for the garden to be replanted.
The other child friendly area in the garden was the inclusion of some vegetable border gardens that had tubs of water and watering cans by them for people to water the gardens and my son spent a happy 10 minutes watering to his hearts content.
To really enjoy the gardens and the tranquil space there I would allow yourself a couple of hours really.
The café at Dunham Massey is in one of the old stable blocks and is up stairs there is a lift for buggies and wheelchairs so there is no problem getting access to it. There is the usual assortment that most Trust properties seem to have of sandwiches a selection of hot meals and cakes and desserts. On this occasion we choose a beef and a chicken salad sandwiches, a child's lunch box that includes five items including a drink the choice of items is up to you and included on the day we visited sandwiches jelly, fruit yoghurt gingerbread men. We also selected a trifle that looked too delicious to resist as it seemed jam packed with fresh fruit in the jelly. This with a drink came to just over £18 so it's not a cheap dining experience. The queuing was straight forward with not a long wait to be served unlike some National Trust properties I have been too. There was a family zone which is were we elected to sit in and this was well catered for the younger visitors with highchairs, low chairs and a child size table with games there were some bead puzzles to play with, and some colouring things all of which meant we could relax and enjoy our meal with out worrying that our lively son was disturbing other diners as everyone in this area was in a similar position. If you are reheating bottles or baby food I also noticed there was a microwave and a bottle warmer that could be used here. The food we selected was lovely and fresh and we had no complaints about the quality of the food. We took with us part of my sons lunch box as he hadn't finished this for enjoying on our walk around the grounds.
As with a lot of national Trust properties they are designed with family visits in mind. The café is very family friendly as mentioned above. There is a baby changing facility in the stable block we didn't use this but I popped in to have a look and it was clean and well catered. You can borrow baby slings and hip seats in the house to go around whilst you leave you buggies and prams in the cloak room nice and safe and there is no charge for this. The family friendly areas in the garden include games trails to find things and watering cans to water the plants. During the school holidays they have events on for children to attend.
You can arrange a transfer from the car park to the Hall and grounds if you have any disability problems. The property has disabled toilets both downstairs and up in the stable block by the restaurant. Parts of the house are not accessible to wheelchairs due to stairs but a ramp can be used at the front of the house to gain some access to some areas. As the stable area has some cobbles getting a wheelchair over these could be hard work but if you have a motorised wheelchair/ scooter then you should be ok. When we were going around the gardens a fellow visitor in a mobility scooter was negotiating the gardens and the grounds with no problems across the path and grass in fact she was going so fast she nearly ran us down.
We had a fabulous day at this property and will certainly be returning again to visit and perhaps in the late autumn and winter to see the winter garden in its finery. There is a lot to do from gentle strolls around the garden to a more substantial walk around the deer park. The park has wide open paths and we spotted lots of families taking children on bike rides in the park. The house is a typical Georgian property but with some amusing games to play and guides dressed up to tell you about the house that gives it a lot of sparkle. On our next visit I think we will do the gardens first so that we can enjoy the house at a more leisurely place.
Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ
Telephone: 0161 941 1025
Prices and opening times for 2011
House and garden: adult £10 child £5.
Garden: adult £7 child £3.50
Estate entry - cars £5.
All the above is free if you are a member of the National Trust
26th Feb -30th Oct 11-5pm Mon-Wed Saturday and Sunday
1st Jan-25th Feb 11-4 seven days a week
26th Feb-30th Oct 11-5.30pm seven days a week
31st Oct-31st Dec 11-4pm Seven days a week
Park all year round 9-5
Where is this?
Altrincham, Cheshire WA14 4SJ
Telephone: 0161 941 1025
This is one of the many National Trust ( NT) properties that can be found in Cheshire which seems to have quite a number compared to Derbyshire. The main park is open all year round from 9am to 5pm or 4pm when dark early. The restaurant and shop seem to follow the same sort of dates but do not open until 10.30am .the garden also seems to be open most days and date throughout the year and opens at 11 am closing at 4pm or 5.30 depending on the season. The main house is not open on Thursdays and is only open 27 Feb - 31 Oct 10 this year once again from 11am till 5pm.The Mill is the same as the house but closes at 4pm. The White Cottage is only open on the last Sunday of the month only from 28 Mar - 31 Oct 10 and all visits must be booked on 0161 928 0075 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are thinking of going then I would check the website http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-dunhammassey.
Prices for Admission:
For parking the price for non NT members is £5 free for members unlike Tatton Park that charge members the same £5 as non-members.
House and Garden adult £8.59 and child £4.70, family tickets £3.50
Garden only: Adult £6.00, child £3.00 and family £15.00.You can choose to Gift Aid you entry fee and add an extra £1 about to each of those prices other than parking should you wish.
We decided to stop here for a visit when we were taking our daughter (the one whose car caught fire) back from her stay with us. They live in Manchester so it made a nice break for a picnic lunch and a stretch of the legs. It is meant that granddaughter could have a bit of time outside the car seat and have a bite to eat too.
Dunham Massey is in a lovely Cheshire village and is so close to Manchester that if you lived nearby it is a very convenient place to come to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. This is a place where you can feel that you are in the countryside enjoying fresh air and you bring you dog so long as you stay in the park or on the set walks and keep it on a lead.
As we are NT members we parked for free and made our way to the entrance. Should you wish to just use the park and the shop and restaurant area you can do this without any extra fee. You just go around the entrance and follow the signs for the toilets. As we had been in the car for an hour or so this was out first stop.
These are okay. They are clean and busy. As usual on a Sunday afternoon there was a queue for the ladies. The baby change facility was interesting as when my daughter went to change her baby she went in and the light came on. Halfway through changing baby the light went off. She had baby on the change table but was in the dark and the light button was across a large room by the door. Very tricky, as she then had to pick up baby and feel her way to the door to re push the button. I think I would suggest two people going if possible.
I realize this is an unusual way to go about visiting a NT place but this is being written as we did our visit and this was the order of our needs.
We had planned a picnic and I had packed sandwiches but we were tempted by the possibility of a nice cuppa and a high chair so we made our way up in the small and very slow lift upstairs to the restaurant. The restaurant is in the converted stables and carriage block while the toilet building was the bakery and brew house. The top of the stable and carriage building is where the restaurant is where as below you find the shops.
The restaurant was very busy and there was a queue but we were able to bypass most of the people as they were waiting for full meals and we just wanted a cup of tea. At least that was what we had planned until we saw a little tray with scones and cream and some shortbread that together with to cups of tea came to £5.50 so we succumbed to temptation. We just added an extra cup of tea and shared the food between the three and a half of us.
We sat in the family section where they had provided high chairs, , a table with some toys and an area with kettle and microwave for heating baby foods. I thought this was an excellent idea. There was also more room for the pushchairs where you could keep an eye on yours while eating your food. There also didn't seem to be a problem with us eating our sandwiches brought from home either which I thought was nice.
Okay so now we were toileted and fed where do we go now?
We made our way out again in order to come in through the entrance to collect our tickets. We had to show our NT membership cards and collect tickets for the garden/house. Everyone has to collect these tickets in order to get into the garden or house you can't just show your NT membership card there.
These are not formal gardens in the gardening sense. They are quite natural and with plenty of large trees for shade, a small stream meanders through with a bridge over taking from one section to the next. Dunham Massey has Britain's largest winter garden set in a huge 7 acres. There are about 700 different plant types and 1,600 shrubs specially bred to provide either winter bark interest, flower or fruit in winter or have autumn colour, scent or sound.
The planting of this garden was done with the help of volunteers and 1,500 local school children and includes planting of over 200,000 bulbs.
We were there in late summer and there were still quite a number of flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants although they were coming to the end of their prime flowering. I would like to go back and see the garden in the winter one day when we are on our way over to visit daughter and family and then again in spring to see all the bulbs,. January and February would be interesting if they have planted snowdrops.
We enjoyed the fact that we could walk on hard gravel paths with the push chair and admire the beautiful ancient trees as well as the beds and borders. It was a large garden that you could enjoy a really good walk around not just a small display garden showing particular plants.
A bit about Dunham Massey:
This park has been popular with Manchester city folk for over two hundred years. It is thanks to the generosity of the 10th Earl of Stamford that the NT now own thus beautiful area as he bequeathed his entire estate to the NT in 1976. The NT now manages these 3,200 acres so that future generations can enjoy this lovely walled park land with its fallow deer.
This hunting park has a very long history as there is evidence of a Norman castle here. Wild boar and deer were hunted before the first mention of a park which was in 1362. By 1697 there are pictures showing a moated hall and a fenced park. During the Industrial revolution Dunham became very popular with Mancunians escaping the smoggy city for a breath of fresh air. They would get there on the railway and apparently on Whitsun afternoon in 1843 there were over 20,000 visitors.
The estate is managed very carefully to maintain a balanced eco system of unusual grasses, deer which have to be limited in their numbers by culling to about 150. There are other native fungi, birds, bats and insects that also enjoy the parkland along with the many human visitors.
Walks around Dunham:
The History walk:
This is the one we did as our time was limited. The distance is quite short about 600metres and this takes about 20 minutes. The walk was chosen by us as we had the pushchair and this is all wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Really all you are doing is wandering around the main house and buildings area on a good path. You start at the Clock tower and walk across the moat where you can turn and look at the fact that Dunham Hall was built on a mound for defence purposes and surrounded by the moat. You walk past the limbless oak which is an ancient dead tree that is supposed to be about 400 years old. You then pass the cottages which were formerly a barn and then converted into homes for the staff in 1921. Round a bit further you pass the stables and on to the stallion pound where brood mares were mated from 1720 onwards. The Elizabethan Mill which is open to the public was used for grinding corn originally then as a saw mill. Keep going on round still further you come back to the stable yard and the restaurant and shops again.
This is quite a short walk, in fact the shortest of all the possible walks in Dunham Massey. The other possible walks include a Nature Walk which is 2.5km and this takes an hour to an hour and a half and is okay for pushchairs but not wheel chairs. The fallow Deer Walk is 3.5km and takes an hour and a half to two hours and is not suitable for either pushchairs or wheel chairs and can be muddy at certain times of the year.
The house or hall is a fine looking Georgian building from the outside. It stands square and solid overlooking the gardens and the courtyard behind. We didn't go into the house as we had baby with us but I understand that is worth a visit as it has some interesting treasures and stories about the family and its scandals. Next time we go I plan on looking inside the hall.
I really like the sound of this place. How do I get there?
By Bus : Warrington Coachways No 38 Altrincham Interchange -Warrington
By car: 3 miles south west of Altrincham off A56: From M6 use exit 19; From the M56 take exit 7
By train: From Altrincham station 3 miles; and from Hale it is 2.6 miles on foot
On Foot: close to Trans-Pennine Trail and Bridgewater Canal and the ordnance survey ref is: 109:SJ735874
By bicycle: NCN62, 1 mile have a look at local cycle routes on the National Cycle Network website
This is certainly worth a visit at least once but we plan on a number of visits now that we have found this gem of a NT property with its lovely gardens and park. The hall is still to be explored by us and one day we might mange the deer walk if we put grandchild in a baby carry sling instead of a push chair. This place is very much recommended by my family as a reasonably priced (free to NT members like us) place to enjoy a cuppa and a wander round some lovely gardens.
This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
Dunham Massey in Altrincham, Cheshire is an early Georgian House built around a Tudor core. It was built for George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington. On his death in 1758, the estate passed to the Greys, Earls of Stamford and whose ancestors included Lady Jane Grey. It has beautiful gardens and extensive grounds which include an ancient deer park containing a series of avenues and ponds and a Tudor mill, originally used for grinding corn but refitted as a saw mill and is still in working order. I am fortunate enough to live a half-hour drive away and visit at least once a year. On Easter Monday, hubby and myself spent a very enjoyable few hours there.
From arriving at the park, the pleasure for me begins. A sweeping avenue of small leaf limes planted in the early 19th century marks the approach to Dunham Massey. The drive continues along the edge of a moat, which was traditionally said to be associated with a Norman castle. At this point, you can see the house and its service buildings, picturesquely grouped beyond the water. The lawns and lush gardens stretch out to one side, and on the other, the gold topped cupola of the coach house rises above the long rear walls of the stable buildings.
The house was built in the early 18th century and has undergone many changes since. The façade is much as it was when first built for Lord Warrington in the 1730's. Inside there are over 40 rooms including the great hall, the great gallery, the tea room, kitchen, scullery, library and bedrooms such as the blue chintz room, St Thomas bedroom and the Queen Anne room. Outer rooms include a dairy and milk rooms, laundry, stables and coach houses.
The rooms that I found most interesting were: -
The dining room.
A new dining room in a more convenient location than the old one (which is now a saloon) was created around 1906. Internal walls have been removed and the floor lowered to lengthen the windows, creating a small bay overlooking the moat and letting in the light. In July 1946, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to lunch here. As with most of the house, the furniture and wall panelling are in dark oak. The table was set with a pristine white cloth and some nice looking silver ware.
The blue chintz room
An early Lady Jane Grey, Queen for 9 days in July 1553, is celebrated here in a collection of prints giving romanticised depictions of episodes in her brief and tragic life. For me, this is a very moving display.
Below stairs, perhaps holds the most interest for me. I'm always keen to see where and how food was prepared and the utensils used.
The structure of Lord Warrington's great kitchen survives more or less intact, apart from the stone flagged floor, which has been replaced by tiles a hundred years ago. Its high and ceiling less roof, together with the numerous windows, gave maximum ventilation to a space which, unlike now, would have been very hot and full of steam and smoke. A gallery was added which allowed Lord Warrington and his successors, to inspect the kitchen without having to set foot downstairs!
The Chef's Room.
This was both a dry larder for storing dry ingredients and prepared food and the "Pastry" as it was known in the 18th century. A meat safe survives together with a large slate slab on which pastry was made. This area also included the wet and meat larders, the refrigerators not arriving until the early 1900's.
The Butler's Pantry.
Survives exactly as fitted with extensive cupboards for china, glass and the best linen. Here you can see the electric bell-board, which informed the butler of anyone ringing the front door.
The garden is dominated by the moat which is first recorded in 1411, but is probably much older. Depending on what time of year you visit will obviously determine what you see. Over Easter, the magnolias were in full bloom and looked magnificent. An abundance of daffodils, tulips, lilies, bluebells and lovely yellow azaleas. In a few weeks the hundreds of rhododendrons will be on show and the summer brings peonies, delphiniums and a vast display of geraniums. A winter walk in the snow is wonderful especially when the deer are about. Whenever you visit, it makes for great photographs.
The estate and deer park.
The deer park consists of 250 acres of parkland with ancient trees, ponds and a herd of fallow deer. The estate draws visitors from all over. On Monday we met with people from all over the UK, America, France and Australia. Despite the visitors, the park remains a peaceful place and a haven for wildlife. The deer play a vital part - a rare dung beetle is associated with them and in order to protect them both, certain areas of the park have been designated sanctuaries. The estate comprises just over 3000 acres and has 20 farms and a hundred cottages, which are identifiable by their bright crimson paint and are let to private tenants.
There is an excellent restaurant "the stables" serving full meals along with sandwiches and home made soups. All the food is made with local ingredients and some of the vegetables are grown on the estate. We enjoyed a steak and Cheshire cheese pie. There is also an ice cream stall and a shop selling sweets and souvenirs. There are no shortage of picnic areas providing tables and seats, if you want to take your own.
The house, restaurant and shop open from Easter to the end of October The park and gardens are open all year.
Disabled access is excellent, although there is a cobbled area in the courtyard, which could prove difficult.
In spite of its close proximity to Manchester, Dunham Massey is a place of tranquillity, a retreat from the bustle of every day life. The open fields and woodland create a feel good mood. Dunham Park has been Manchester's green lungs for over 200 years: a peaceful place to catch your breath beneath the trees. Knowing this, the 10th Earl of Stamford bequeathed his Dunham estate, the hall, park and over 3000 acres of land to The National Trust in 1976 for everyone to enjoy.
House and garden - £6.50 - children £3.25.
Free to National Trust members.
I love visiting Dunham Massey - one of the quieter, more 'grown-up' stately homes in the North West. Cost is £3.00 for the car park, then £3.20 for the garden and around £5.00 (£2.50 for children) to get into the Hall. If you buy tickets for both the House and the Gardens, your car park fee is refunded. All of this is free to National Trust members. Having visited the House in years gone by, I usually tend to just go into the gardens. At 25 acres, it's not as big as many stately home gardens, and easy to explore it in its entirety. There are woodland areas, and some peaceful lawned areas, and lovely little streams here and there - not many grand statues and fountains. It's the kind of garden where nature has definitely been taken into consideration, and you just want to relax. The lake is famous for being used in the TV series of Pride and Prejudice (the one where Colin Firth dives in, to woe the heroine). The house is worth a visit - the 7th earl of Stamford once lived there, a man with a liking for gambling and "disreputable women". There is also a very fine collection of silver. The restaurant at Dunham is one of the best of its kind that I've ever been to - sandwiches and cakes are available, but also excellent homecooked hot meals. I had salmon and broccoli pancakes, with nicely cooked vegetables - very good. It cost around £7.00, with a drink, but the helpings are huge. It's always refreshing when the food at such attractions is good, because, let's face it, unless you've brought a picnic, you don't have a lot of choice about where you eat. At present, there are still some restrictions due to foot and mouth, with the deer fenced in the park, so out of sight - whereas they are usually to be found roaming quite close to the house, as well as in the picnic areas. The park is open all year round, with the gates open until 7.30 in the summer, and 5.00 i
n the winter. But opening hours for the House are less straightforward - Open from early April to the end of October, Saturday to Wednesday, between 12.00 and 5.00. The garden is open daily, between 11.00 and 5.30. Address: Dunham Massey Hall Altrincham Cheshire WA14 4SJ Telephone: 0161 941 1025
I have visited Dunham Massey many times as my dad used to live in Altrincham, up until he was in his 20s, so he regularly visits all his old friends there and we usually go to Dunham Massey. Dunham Massey is owned by the national trust, and consists of a very large old house, with lots of deer living in the forest around it. It is a bit boring, really, but it's OK as there's a cafe there which is handy to stop at.
Manchester stretches south down the A56 through Hulme, Stretford, Sale and then Altrincham in a succession of towns that don't really have distinct boundaries. The suburbs just continue, until that is, you get to Altrincham, because beyond that, drive five minutes away and you're in the middle of the Cheshire countryside. It's quite a shock to go from shops and house in all directions, to be in the middle of all this greenery. Even more surprising is the fact that just inside the sudden profusion of the great outdoors is Dunham Massey, a National Trust park and stately home. The house itself is exactly as you'd expect: rather grand, huge pond full of ducks and some formal gardens. So far, so familiar. Tatton Park, a little further into Cheshire, is actually more impressive. What makes Dunham for me is the Deer Park. This is free, whether you pay for the house, or just the car park. Although there is a deer sanctuary (where people can't walk), the deer have the run of the place, so unlike Tatton, where you glimpse the animals, at Dunham, they're everywhere. There are also a profusion of rabbits, heron and other animals, so if you come at dusk, you'll see all kinds of critters in an extremely pleasant and verdant park (I've seen foxes here too). It's not spectacular, but it is a glorious place to get the city out of your lungs and see some wildlife.