Where it Started
Moor Hall is situated in Aughton, West Lancashire in five acres of breathtaking gardens with views to the south over a beautiful lake, said to be the remains of a medieval moat. A grade II* listed gentry house of mid-sixteenth century origin, Moor Hall is one of the most important listed buildings in the UK. Moor Hall was first recorded in 1282 and in 1533 it was acquired by Peter Stanley of Bickerstaffe, who built the present manor house. The site was acquired by Andy & Tracey Bell in 2015 and has undergone a multi-million pound renovation. In partnership with friend and business partner Mark Birchall, Moor Hall has a beautiful restaurant with luxury rooms whilst the converted barn followed later in 2017 as a contemporary casual dining experience.
a bit more history
Moor Hall appears first in the records in 1282, but its origins are likely to be far older, perhaps pre-dating the Norman Conquest. Moor Hall was an important estate within the manor of Aughton, and the site was formerly surrounded by a moat, a vital means of defence during a lawless age when disputes frequently erupted in violence. In more peaceful times the moat was transformed into the lake that now stands in front of the house. The Hall was owned in 1282 by Simon de Bickerstath and the land comprised 120 acres.
During the medieval period the estate changed hands between some of the major gentry familes of southwest Lancashire: it has passed to the Ince family of Ince and by 1458 to the Bradshaw family, who had owned the neighbouring manor of Uplitherland, which became part of Aughton, form the late 14th century.
A major event in the history of the building came in 1533-34, when William Bradshagh conveyed the hall and its estate to Peter Stanley of Bickerstaffe. He belonged to the powerful family whose main branch, as Earls of Derby, were the virtual kings of Lancashire in the time of the Tudors. Over the door of Moor Hall is a plaque with Stanley’s initials and the date 1566.
Moor Hall shows evidence of originally having been a timber-framed structure – perhaps built by Stanley when he acquired the estate in the 1530s. This he subsequently modernized in 1566 by cladding its stone and brick, symbolizing the replacement of the medieval way of life by one more recognizably modern. Stanley was thus leading the way in this lifestyle revolution, for in subsequent decades, many other gentry families in southwest Lancashire followed suit. The estate remained in Stanley ownership until 1731, when the family died out, and subsequently Moor Hall passed to Sir William Stanley of Hooton.
His estates were sold at auction in 1840, and the hall was then described as ‘an excellent Mansion House…suitable for the residence of a highly respectable family’. Moor Hall’s purchaser was an entirely new breed of gentry landowner – not of ancient stock, but decidedly nouveau riche.
This was John Rosson, a barrister who originated from Liverpool and relatively humble origins – his father was a cabinet maker there in the 1760s. John Rosson appears to have made his money as a lawyer in London. At Moor Hall, he built a new stable block of high quality for his horses and carriages, and he owned more than 138. acres there in 1848. After Rosson’s death in 1857, his sister Frances sold the estate but later repurchased it. Finally it was sold in 1873 to Thomas Walmesley, a native of Bickerstaffe and later Mayor of Bolton. At this time, Aughton had become established as an exclusive commuter dormitory for wealthy Liverpool merchants who took the train to the city, and thus the hall became the residence of several Liverpool businessmen in later years. These included the notable architect and surveyor George Holme in the 1890’s and the bookseller and stationer William Potter in the early 1900’s