Backford, Mollington & Lea Villages


Chorlton Hall

Chorlton has some claim to be the quietest and most remote of the townships. Certainly, its small group of houses has always been difficult to find first time and it feels somehow more separate than other parts of the parish. Many of the memories surround the one large house, Chorlton Hall.

Howard Bradley was a boy living in the Hall in the 1920s. He recalls that the house had five live-in servants. Servants were necessary in number, because many activities were labour intensive. The central heating was coal fired, and had to be raked and stoked regularly - the coal was collected from Mollington Station. Lawns had to be cut by horse-drawn gang mowers - the horse being fitted with 'Wellington Boots' to avoid spoiling the surface - or even with a scythe. Sufficient electricity for the lighting only was home generated, there being a cell house of batteries in the old coach house (now Cholton Hall Mews).

The water supply was at low pressure sometimes, so was supplemented by well water drawn by hand pumping - and even the hot water had still to be carried upstairs in buckets. In the kitchen hung our telephone, a fine old instrument which you had to hand wind to call the exchange. As well as the five servants mentioned, who included a cook, housemaid and nursery maid, we had a gardener and chauffeur, who lived in the two cottages by the front gate; and there were four other gardeners, too.

Chorlton Hall remains the focus of life in the township; however, it has not been the only one over the years. Three dairy farms have existed separately. Chorlton Lodge, Mount and Grove.

The company Wild and Sons bought Lodge Farm in 1946. One of the sons, Oulton Wade, created a pig unit at Chorlton in 1955, in support of a traditional Cheshire System - cows eat grass, their milk is converted to cheese, the whey is fed to the pigs, pigs manure the land to grow grass and so on.

In 1967 came foot-and-mouth disease which caused 100 cattle and 1000 pigs to be slaughtered at Lodge Farm. (The only other farm to be affected in the parish was Grove Farm, next door.) For some time they went out of business, though compensation was paid. In the late 1970s, Wades were asked to make Cheshire Farmhouse Blue Cheese to counter increasing demand in the country. Up to then Lodge had produced only milk, and Wild's dairy in Mollington was committed to plain cheese. The two types cannot be made on the same site, so blue cheese came to Chorlton. Unfortunately the market for blue then became oversupplied and after only three years, blue cheese production was halted. Lodge farm was sold by the Wades in 1993, the house in 1998.

A fourth farm in Chorlton specialised in slaughtering. That work stopped temporarily during the 1939-45 war, when private slaughter houses were closed in favour of centralised control by government, and ceased finally in 1975.