Backford, Mollington & Lea Villages

 
The Historic Blue Plaque scheme seeks to place plaques on structures, or at sites, of substantial historical interest, within the county. Such a plaque has been in place, on the old Mollington Estate Wall in Well Lane, since August 2012. However, for those who know little about it, here is a short history of the Hall and the Wall.




The old Mollington Estate was originally just a hunting estate with a comfortable lodge. It was bought by John Hunt in 1699. The Hunts were originally country gentry and lawyers from the Shrewsbury area and John, who was a younger son, had moved to practise law in Bridge Street, Chester circa 1682. The Hunts were the first people to use Mollington Hall as a family home. It passed down through the Hunt family until eventually it was inherited by George Hunt in 1739. However, George later inherited, through his mother, the more extensive and lucrative estate of Lanhydrock in Cornwall. He therefore sold Mollington Hall and Estate to his younger brother, Thomas. Thomas wished to equal his elder brother and in 1757 set about renovating Mollington Hall, giving it the Georgian makeover which we recognise on photographs up to 1937. Interior furnishings by Georgian masters included woodwork by Abraham Swan and Adams fireplaces. Thomas Hunt left Mollington Estate to his only surviving child Anna Maria. Anna Maria also inherited Lanhydrock, as her uncle George never married. Eventually Anna Maria could not manage to run two estates, as both were in debt, so she rented and finally sold Mollington Estate to John Feilden, a Manchester cotton trader, in 1796. She then concentrated on improving Lanhydrock and repaying the debts which her uncle and father had left her. She was successful in this and Lanhydrock remained with her descendants until the1960’s.

Meanwhile John Feilden, who was now Lord of the Manor of Mollington, supported the cutting of the Chester to Liverpool railway line, through the village. Later the Feilden family ran out of (interested) heirs and so half the estate was sold to individual farmers and the remainder, together with the Hall, was bought by Thomas Gibbons Frost in 1906. The Frost family, who owned a flour mill in Chester, were mainly lawyers and aldermen. Gibby, as TGF liked to be called, made several improvements to the Estate and renovated North and South Lodges. Gibby and his second wife moved to Curzon Park in Chester and the Hall was unoccupied for several years. It was finally sold to Costain who pulled down the Hall in 1937 and used the land for domestic building. Few structures related to the Hall remain. There is an ice house and lake on Mere Farm. The ha-ha runs at the end of the gardens on the south side of Well Lane and the old Estate Wall runs from Home Farm, northwards along Townfield Lane, round the corner into Well Lane and along the south side of Well Lane to North Lodge. The wall has been pierced in several places to provide access for houses on Well Lane. However, if you look at the long unbroken stretch of wall in Well Lane, you will see the Historic Blue Plaque placed near the entrance to Feilden Court. 

The Plaque had been suggested to CWaC by Backford, Mollington and District Local History Society. Society members are grateful to all those who supported us in this venture, including Cllr. Brian Crowe. Please take time to examine the plaque in detail and describe to your children the lovely Georgian Hall which used to be on the site. 

Ann Marie Curtis (Hon. Sec.)