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Brimstage Hall, Cheshire, England

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Brimstage Hall, Cheshire, England


1175 TO 1350

Expert opinions suggest Brimstage Hall was built sometime between 1175 and 1350, though nobody is quite sure of why, or for whom, it was built. The original house was compact and fortified, enclosed in a moat and high embankment.


The first recorded occupant of the Hall was Sir Hugh Hulse and his wife Marjory, who were granted license to build a chapel on the site on 11 February 1398. However it seems likely that the structure existed before this date.


During the War of the Roses, Sir William Troutbeck occupied Brimstage Hall. He fought for the Lancasters in the Battle of Blore Heath in 1459, where he was killed during the battle at the age of just 25


A group from Cambridge University discovered an old, disused well under the floor of a part of the old house in 1957. The well was found to contain a number of human bones, and to this day nobody knows who they belonged to or why they ended up there.



Fast forward to 2014 and Brimstage Hall & Courtyard retains its 12th Century charm while providing an excellent location for a collection of unique & independent shops.


A short distance from the busy Clatterbridge exit of the mid-Wirral motorway, lie a group of straggling cottages scattered around a village green. Brimstage - in mediaeval times Branstath - was once part of Bromborough and subsequently, in 1868, united with Raby to the parish of Thornton Hough. It was the original settlement of an old Cheshire family, the Domvilles, whose eldest line is now represented by the Earl of Shrewsbury.

The first of this family occurs in the reign of Edward III (1327-77) when they also held Oxton, Raby, and part of Mobberley in East Cheshire. In 1397 the manor estates - which now included Thingwall - passed in marriage with Margery Domville, second daughter and heiress of John Domville the younger, to Sir Hugh Hulse of Raby.

The son of Sir Hugh, Thomas, inherited in addition to the Brimstage estates, part of the manor of Little Neston, the hamlet of Hargrave and land in Thornton. After the death of Thomas in August 1432 William Troutbeck acquired all the Domville lands, as a result of the minority of Margery Hulse to whom he married his son.

The estate passed to Sir John Troutbeck of Dunham who was slain at the Battle of Blore-Heath in 1460. As late as 1877 Brimstage and Raby were subject to a Court Leet (a local manorial court dealing with petty offences) held under the Earl of Shrewsbury.

The Domvilles were a family of some standing in the Middle Ages. In 1275 the inquisition of the death of Robert de Montalt (the steward of Chester and lord of Brimstage, who died in 1162) showed that Sir Roger Domville held land in Brimstage and Oxton. He was a member of the county court and sat on many juries, in 1277, 1281, 1284 and 1289.

In 1334 John Domville, possibly the grandson of Sir Roger, was in possession of Brimstage and Oxton but let other lands to trustees, notably in Thingwall and Barnston. In January 1340 he was appointed warden of the property of Vale Royal Abbey, founded by Edward I for the Cisterian monks, south-west of Northwich.

John Domville and his family were frequently in trouble with the courts. In the trailbaston court of 1353, John Domville and Richard Hough - listed as sergeants of the peace - were accused of hiding treasure trove which he found at Gayton by one of Domville's tenants. They failed to hand it over to the Earl of Chester.

It was further claimed that Domville, Hough and Robert Poole, together with about thirty others, hunted upon many occasions with greyhounds in the forest of Wirral. They threatened the Abbot of Basingwerk's lay-brother at Calday grange and forced him to give them food and drink. The goods, corn and chattels belonging to the Abbot were destroyed by the men's violence, and his horses, greyhounds and dogs were threatened.

In February 1398 Hugh Hulse and his wife, Margery, obtained to build an oratory at Brimstage. This private chapel is traditionally thought to be the vaulted room at the base of the mediaeval tower. This interpretation arises from the supposition that because a room is vaulted it was used for religious purposes. There is no real evidence that this was the case at Brimstage and the vaulted tower storey is typical of the mediaeval tower house.

In the south-east corner of this room at Brimstage is a roughly cut corbel, said to be an early representation of the 'Cheshire Cat'. The figure looks more like a fierce Scottish Fold then a 'Cheshire', although the mason may originally have intended to represent the red lion rampant - the Domville coat of arms. On one of the ceiling bosses there are three entwined fishes, the arms of the Troutbeck family who inherited the Brimstage estates in 1432.

Sadly, the walls of this chamber have been whitewashed. These days the Hall has been converted to house craft shops and businesses in its main courtyard.

The central portion of Brimstage Hall, on a north-south axle, appears to be of sixteenth-century origin; the north part is a later addition. One authority has suggested that the Hall 'has every appearance of having been a tower house, ie.a compactly olanned dwelling of the pele-tower type'.

The tower at one time consisted of three storeys connected by a flight of stairs winding round a central pillar. The rectangular turret at the south-est corner contains garderobes (toilets) and rises to the full three storeys. At the summit there are machicolations, or holes in the floor to drop missiles through. This projecting roof, supported on massive corbels, may have been for beacon fires as part of an ancient signalling network from North Wales to Storeton Hill.

The site of the Hall was surrounded by a moat which is still fairly visible on three sides. In part of the garden, near to the tower, several bodies have been found laid out in such a way to suggest that this area may have been once used as a cemetary.

Finds made in the 1890s during the building of the house, close to the eastern entrance gate, included human bones and carved stones. E.W Cox, in his book 'Leaves From An Antiquary's', said in 1895 - "The discovery of graves, the character of the tracery (of the fragments), and the finding of a stoup suggest a separate ecclesiastical building, standing with its graveyard to the east of the hall"

The Search For Old Wirral - David Randall
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