The history of Cloverley Hall

John Pemberton Heywood, a banker from Liverpool, built Cloverley Hall when nearing retirement. He used a young architect named William Eden Nesfield who was Anthony Salvin’s nephew and a friend of Norman Shaw. Educated at Eton, Nesfield learned to draw and then became articled to Mr Burn in 1851 but moved to his uncle’s office two years later. Then in 1856 and still only 21 he worked under the Clerk of Works at Keele Hall, which his uncle was building. Following two extensive tours travelling and sketching in France, Italy and Greece he published his drawings, which, with Norman Shaw’s book, became textbooks of the gothic revival in architecture.

First, a new wing at Coobe Abbey, then Cloverley Hall and then Kinmel Hall made Nesfield famous and were the principal works of his life. He designed many other buildings, from cottages and lodges to mansions and a number of churches, including the tower at Calverhall church. Nesfield designed Cloverley Hall in 1864 when still only 29 and it was completed in 1868 at a cost, exclusive of decoration, of £60 000. Whilst still building Cloverley he was designing Kinmel Hall and his distinctive “pies” can be seen in the stone frieze work at the top of the clock tower stairs and all over the place at Kinmel.

John Pemberton Heywood had no children and the Hall passed to a nephew. It was such a large house that it became difficult to maintain, particularly after the First World War when fewer people were prepared to return to a life in service. With all the rooms in the building heated by coal fires there were a minimum of twenty five servants required to look after the old building. The original main wing was five storeys high, as high as the present clock tower, with a footprint area covering approximately 450ft x 400ft. The original Great Hall room was 55ft long, 30ft wide and 27ft high.

It was in 1926 that the owner took the decision to demolish the main family wing leaving the kitchen and stable areas intact. The gable end section of the building was then rebuilt on a reduced scale but in keeping with the original design. Fabric from the original main wing was used in the rebuilding, which was completed in 1929. The current entrance and main staircase were completed at that time.

The present building was originally the servants’ quarters, stables, coach house, servants’ hall, laundry and kitchens. The downstairs gents toilets/showers used to be the horses’ wash room, hence the wide doorway.

During World War II Cloverley Hall was taken over as a school for disabled children who were evacuated from Manchester, the Lancasterian School. After this, the Rev HN Duncan started a boys boarding school following a relocation from Malpas in Cheshire. Cloverley School remained here from 1948 until 1967 and many of the local farmers were educated at this school. In 1968 John and Mary Rosser founded the Hall as a Christian Conference Centre. John and Mary remain as members of our board of Trustees. Find out more about Why we do what we do: Christian faith and Cloverley Hall.