Spotlight on . . .


Part 1
by Mike Chitty

Left: The engraving captioned 'Wavertree Hall, the seat of Charles Lawrence Esq.', by W. Le Petit, from a drawing by S. Austin, published by Fisher Son & Co. of London in 1829.

From time to time we receive emailed requests for information about 'Wavertree Hall' - often accompanied by a picture obtained from the internet. Most of the Henshaws in New England, USA, seem to claim descent from William Henshaw, the owner of Wavertree Hall (also referred to as 'Wartre Hall') in the 17th century, and in particular from his two orphaned sons Joseph and Daniel who in about 1652 were 'fraudulently abducted' and sent to Dorchester, Massachusetts, thus being deprived of their inheritance. Having come across a reference to Wavertree Hall on our own website - as the name of the house that was demolished to make way for the School for the Blind in 1898 - they assume that the building was in Church Road. But in fact there were two, quite separate, Wavertree Halls - and the one where the Henshaws lived was not (officially) in Wavertree at all.

The house in the picture (above) was situated on the north side of Wavertree Lane - nowadays Wavertree Road - close to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway line. Its grounds are today known as Wavertree Botanic Park, though the bulk of the estate was, historically, in the Township of West Derby. Until the 1970s, a series of iron pillars across the park marked the official boundary between West Derby and Wavertree.

In his booklet Wavertree (1976) Nigel Sands wrote: "In 1719 [John Plumbe] built a very handsome mansion in what is now Botanic Park and called it 'Plumbe's Hall'. A frequent visitor there was Squire Nicholas Blundell of Crosby ...  The Plumbe family lived there until 1776 and by 1823 it had been purchased by Mr Charles Lawrence". So perhaps the mansion depicted in the engraving was the result of John Plumbe's rebuilding of the original house.

Osbornes' Guide to the Grand Junction Railway, published in 1838, describes Wavertree Hall as "the residence of Charles Lawrence, Esq., who was the first
chairman of the Liverpool and Manchester company". Lancashire Illustrated, in which the engraving was published in 1831, had described the building thus:
"Without much pretension to architectural elegance, it exhibits a degree of quiet old-fashioned comfort and sober antiquity, which is almost peculiar to itself in the immediate neighbourhood of Liverpool, where every thing speaks of modern affluence and recent acquirement."

Continued . . .

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