Heaton Hall & Orangery
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History & Architecture
Heaton Hall & Orangery
The house that had stood on the site of the present Heaton Hall since the late 17th century would have been very old fashioned when its 21 year old owner Sir Thomas Egerton (later 1st Earl of Wilton) married Eleanor Assheton of Middleton in 1769. Three years later Sir Thomas commissioned a fashionable architect named James Wyatt to design a new home for his young family.
Earlier in 1772 Wyatt had attracted the attention of the aristocracy with his design for the Pantheon in Oxford Street, a rendezvous for assemblies, balls and masquerades described by Gibbon as ‘the wonder of the eighteenth century and of the British Empire'.
Sir Thomas' account books of the time show that Wyatt's neo-classical masterpiece was built in phases. The central block, and the west wing containing the kitchen and below stairs activities were completed by 1778. Work on the east wing with the Library and Music Room went on until 1789, the year that Samuel Green's organ was installed and the inaugural concert held.
The entrance into the house is on the north side, but the main façade is on the south side. This is of a traditional Palladian design. It has a central block with a semi-circular bow topped by a dome, flanked by colonnaded wings ending in octagonal pavilions containing the kitchen and library. The main entertaining rooms are unusually ranged in line along the ground floor behind this façade. They are finely proportioned and exquisitely finished by the finest artists and craftsmen of the period. Another interesting aspect of this elevation is the subtle way it reflects a greater degree of harmony with its landscape setting than almost any other building of its date.
There are 13 rooms in the central core and east wing . Manchester City Galleries restored the decorative detail in the 1980's and early 1990's. The ground floor range of rooms on the north east front were converted to an expansive space that houses temporary exhibitions. Heaton Hall's collections are managed by Manchester Galleries
The Orangery was added to the house by the 2nd Earl of Wilton around 1823. It appears to have been designed by Lewis Wyatt as it is similar to his orangeries at Tatton and Belton. He also added the impressive chimney stacks at the same time.
Heaton's Orangery has a direct access from the east wing of the house and as the wife of the 2nd Earl, Lady Mary Stanley was a keen botanist it may well have been added for her. It was designed with a domed, glazed roof, fronted by a formal garden with two large copies of the Borghese Vase. The roof was removed after Manchester City Council purchased the park in 1902. The Orangery overlooks landscaped gardens and is lit entirely by natural light. as The Orangery was the principal function room for wedding receptions and conferences.
Heaton Hall is closed to general public viewing however Heaton Hall will be open to the public for pre-booked guided tours during National Heritage Weekend, 13th and 14th September 2014. Places on tours can be booked via our feedback page. Please note there is no open admission; admission is by per-booked tour only.
The Orangery is not available for booking.
The historical content of this page has been written with reference to the following publications:
1. Transactions of Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society (1983) – The 1st & 2nd Earls of Wilton and the Creation of Heaton House by James Lomax MA. Vol 82 Moxon Press Ltd, Ilkley
2. Heaton Hall: A Short Account of its History & Architecture. Manchester City Council Cultural Services Dept, Manchester City Art Galleries, 1984.
More information about Heaton Hall and the Wilton Estate can be found in the Greater Manchester County Record Office.