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Gawsworth Old Hall

Gawsworth Old Hall is a country house in the village of Gawsworth, Cheshire, England (). It is a Grade I listed building.

History

The original house was Norman and this was rebuilt in 1480 and extensively remodelled in 1701. The estate belonged to the Fitton family and one of the daughters of the family was Mary Fitton who served as maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I. Mary was dismissed from court after she became pregnant by the Earl of Pembroke. Mary Fitton is one of the candidates for the "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets. After the death of Edward Fitton, 2nd Baron of Gawsworth, in 1642, the inheritance of the estate was in dispute. This led to a famous duel in 1712 in which both protagonists, Lord Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton were killed. The last professional jester in the country, Samuel "Maggoty" Johnson, lived in the house and is buried nearby. In the early 19th century the hall was described as being a ruin.

Architecture

The building dates from the 15th and 16th centuries with additions in the 19th and 20th centuries. It was originally quadrilateral in plan but has been reduced to a three-sided courtyard. The hall is partly timber framed with whitewashed wattle and daub or brick infill, and partly built from red brick with a slate roof. The interior has fine woodwork, and in the library are bookcases designed by Pugin which were formerly in Scarisbrick Hall.

Surroundings

Originally the hall was set in a park of some and contained a tilting ground and an Elizabethan pleasure garden of around . The pleasure garden was further developed in the 1960s. The gatehouse to the hall dating from the middle of the 17th century, a pair of gate piers from the late 17th or early 18th century, the 16th century garden walls, and the tomb of Samuel "Maggoty" Johnson in a nearby wood, are listed Grade II.

Today

The hall is owned by the Richards family and is open to the public during the summer months. During the year events are organised, weddings can be held, and in the summer months concerts and plays are performed in an open air theatre in the grounds.

Notes

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