History

History

The Hall was built in 1829 by the great grandfather of the previous owner of the Hotel, Mr Richard Tomkinson, a former Master of the Cheshire Hounds (see portrait in the dining room). The architect was George Latham practising in Nantwich; in a style he called ‘Queen Elizabethan’ similar to the Jacobean Dorfold Hall, the family home of his patron. Resulting from this he was commissioned to design Arley Hall for Rowland Egerton Warburton. The Willington Estate was formerly the property of William Arden, the 2nd Lord Alvanley, the Hereditary Chief Forester and Bowbearer-in-Chief of Delamere Forest, a bailiwick dating from the 12th century which had descended to the Arden family through the Kyngesleghs, the Dones and the Crewes whose Cheshire seat was nearby Utkinton Hall.

The Tomkinson family came to Cheshire in the 16th Century and a grandson, who was solicitor to the Wilbraham family, bought their Dorfold Hall Estate near Nantwich in 1754. It was William, the youngest of his four grandsons, who bought Willington from the inveterate gambler Lord Alvanley in 1827, not as one legend has it by winning it at a game of cards.

In 1879 the house was extended with a new front, a wing, and a series of stable blocks; and again in the 1920’s with a laundry block. But by the 1950’s the country house lifestyle was nearing its end. Whilst most of Willington Hall survived the wrecking ball, the 1879 front and some of the out buildings did not. The new face, with its Doric portico, was unveiled in 1955, and in 1958 the building was listed by English Heritage.

In 1999 Willington Hall began the next phase in its history when it was taken over by the Begbie family. Having been hotel proprietors for three generations, they have used their experience over the past 16 years to restore the hotel and gardens.