Dunham Massey - History and Facts | History Hit

Dunham Massey

Altrincham, Greater Manchester

Lily Johnson

21 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dunham Massey

Dunham Massey is a country house in Altrincham, Greater Manchester built in the 17th century and home to two of Britain’s most eminent families – the Booths and the Greys. For over 300 years, Dunham Massey bore witness to these families’ intriguing lives, and is now home to one of the most stunning examples of Georgian design in the country.

Dunham Massey history 

The estate of Dunham Massey was initially a medieval deer park first mentioned in 1362, and was a symbol of power and privilege for those who hunted there. In 1453 the first Booth inherited Dunham Massey, with Robert Bothe of Barton as its owner. In the early 17th century, William Booth began construction on the eminent hall at Dunham Massey – it would not be finished until after William’s death however, with the family embroiled in the strife of the English Civil War.

During the Interregnum in which Oliver Cromwell ruled the country, William’s son George Booth was the instigator of a Royalist rebellion known as Booth’s Rising in 1659, and was subsequently imprisoned in the Tower. Following the Restoration he was pardoned and richly rewarded with £20,000 and the Barony of Delamer. Dunham Massey was finally completed during his lifetime, presumably with this small fortune. 

By 1694 however, Dunham Massey had amassed huge debts. When George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington inherited it, his only saving grace was his advantageous marriage to Mary Oldbury, who brought with her a dowry of £50,000 (£2.5 million in today’s money!)

Their daughter and sole heir Mary married Harry Grey, bringing together the two great families now tied to Dunham Massey. The Greys owned the property until 1976, during which time it served as a hospital during World War One and in the 1930s welcomed Haile Selassie through its doors. When the final Grey heir Robert passed away, he left his entire estate to the National Trust. 

Dunham Massey today 

Today Dunham Massey is a Grade I* listed building and is still managed by the National Trust, ranking in their top 10 most-visited sites. Their collection numbers over 25,000 objects, including one of the largest collections of Huguenot silver, and tells the story of the manor’s occupants through the lavish items they amassed.

In the Great Gallery a magnificent collection of watercolour and oil paintings can also be admired, with the sheer elegance of the building providing an atmospheric backdrop. The surrounding park too provides a beautiful walk, complete with fallow deer, ancient tree groves and various pools perfect for birdwatching.

Getting to Dunham Massey 

Dunham Massey is located in Altrincham, Greater Manchester just off the A56. Parking is available on site and is free for National Trust members. The nearest train stations are Altrincham and Hale, both 3 miles away, while the nearest bus stop is Bowden Church, a 35-minute walk away. As the house is at the centre of a large estate, keep in mind that walking from public transport may take a while.

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