A house with six centuries of history
The house at Lyme is open for you to visit this summer. When you step inside, you'll be able to explore its beautiful features and admire the fascinating collection as you walk through six centuries of history.
Like many great houses, Lyme was built and rebuilt, embellished and enlarged throughout its ownership by the Leghs, with each generation making its mark and creating the house we see today.
The Drawing Room
Of all the rooms at Lyme, this is the best preserved of the older Elizabethan house, dating from around 1580. Medieval stained glass sits in the window, while the heavy overmantel which bear’s Elizabeth I’s coat of arms reaches almost up to the ceiling. Dark oak panels rise from the floor making a very contrasting space to the classical proportions of the Entrance Hall it overlooks.
The Stag Parlour
The Stag Parlour is a small room that played a big part in Legh family history. Whilst updated throughout the years, some original details remain, including parts of the overmantel. There are four 19th-century chairs that bear the monogram – ‘CR’ – of Charles I, said to be upholstered with fabric taken from the cloak worn by Charles I on the scaffold. When James II was ousted from the throne in 1688, Peter Legh XII persistently refused to pledge his allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary. He and other local land owners formed the Cheshire Club to discuss re-instating the Stuart king. Its first meeting was held in this room.
The Knight’s Bedroom
Family tradition has it that Mary Queen of Scots slept here, and that a secret passageway led from the cupboard, through the house and under the hill to the Cage. During one of the mansion’s many renovations, a skeleton was discovered lying in a cavity beneath the floorboards; the room was subsequently said to be haunted.
The Long Gallery
This space is another Elizabethan survivor, created for gentle exercise and for a display of wealth. Here at Lyme, the Long Gallery was also a domestic space. Records show that Sir Piers VII sat in one of the bays when paying his staff, and by the 17th century a billiard table stood at the top end. Later, the 2nd Lady Newton turned the room into a theatre, where the family staged performances, whilst also distributing Christmas presents to the children of the estate workers. During the Second World War, it became a nursery for evacuees.
Often a favourite for visitors, the Library today is a re-creation of how the room was decorated in the Victorian era. As restoration work to the room began in 2010, we discovered beneath the modern wallpaper a shadow impression on the plaster of the original 19th-century paper as well as fragments of the crimson and gold flock were also found behind the bookcases, which enabled us to create a historically accurate replacement, made by a specialist French company, Atelier d’Offard.
Unlike many rooms, The Library is rope-free, a room where visitors are encouraged to take a seat and enjoy the room, rather than simply look at it. Inspired by this black and white photograph of 2nd Lord Newton stood by the fireplace, with a friend whose muddy feet hang over the end of the couch, showed the Library was a lived in space rather than a showroom.
The Legh family
Lyme is remarkable for having been owned by the same family, the Leghs, for just under 600 years. Find out why good deeds in battle led to them owning the land, and come face to face with Legh ancestry in the house.
Lyme has a large collection ranging from treasured Mortlake tapestries to collars belonging to the family’s beloved mastiff dogs. The house is home to the finest clock collection in the National Trust as well as one of the most important printed book in the Trust’s vast collection, The Lyme Sarum Missal.