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The woods were in part a vestige of the ancient woodland which once covered much of the area, but they were landscaped - with new planting and rocky glades - to complement the architecture of the new Hall. On the other side of the building, the grounds were more open, and offered the occupants - and their visitors - fine views across the Childwall valley towards Prescot and the Pennine foothills.

In 1824 Bamber Gascoyne died. His only child, Frances (Fanny) Gascoyne had married James Cecil, Viscount Cranborne, who in 1823 - as James Gascoyne-Cecil - became the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury. Successive Marquesses maintained their interest in Childwall and surrounding areas during the 19th and 20th centuries, even though they were resident elsewhere (at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire and Cranborne in Dorset).

In 1947 Childwall Hall - having been the home of Childwall Golf Club from 1922 to 1938 - was presented by the 5th Marquess to Liverpool Corporation for use as a further education college. However, it emerged that the house was riddled with dry rot, so it was demolished and replaced by a new purpose-designed building. The open part of the grounds, sloping down towards Childwall Lane, was to be converted to playing fields for the college, so had to be levelled by controlled tipping of household waste. Childwall Woods were opened to the public in 1966. Local residents were apprehensive; a letter in the local press referred to the "devastation resulting from wholesale and unsupervised invasions by a goodly proportion of all the future borstal inmates Wavertree and Gateacre can muster"! However, the woods have remained a much-appreciated local amenity.

Above: An 1825 engraving of Childwall Hall

Below: A 'Letter to the Editor' written in 1967

Continued . . .

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Page created 22 Oct 2020 by MRC, last updated 23 Oct 2020