My trip to Dunham Massey was my first national trust trip since becoming a member. I visited here at the beginning of autumn in October. If there was ever a perfect autumn day, this would have closely matched it for me.
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What is Dunham Massey and where is it?
Dunham Massey is a Georgian house, garden and an ancient deer park full of treasures and stories. It is situated in Altrincham, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and is regarded as one of the best attractions in this region for history and nature lovers.
A bit about the history
The house was home to two historic families, the Booth’s and the Grey’s, and holds over 400 years of history, wealth, and some rather scandalous stories.
The present house was built in 1616 by Sir George Booth but has since been altered and remodelled over the years 1732, 1740, 1905, and 1908.
The rising of the estate
The house really rose after George Booth, the 2nd Earl of Warrington, inherited the Dunham estate from his father, Henry Booth, the 1st Earl of Warrington, along with a debt of £50,000. As a way to clear the debt, he planted hundreds of trees as a source of timber. However, he finally manages to pay off that debt when he marries Mary Oldbury, who came with a huge dowry of £24,000, which is around £2.5 million today.
The house was inherited by their only child, Mary Booth, who married Harry Grey, the 4th Earl of Stamford, which meant the Durham Estate was brought into the Earldom of Stamford and into the Grey family.
The estate stays in the Grey family until 1976, when the last Earl, the 10th Earl of Stamford Roger Grey, who inherited the estate at just 13 years old dies, leaving the estate to the National Trust. It is the biggest gift left to the National Trust to date.
Fake memories, an eerie spooky walk, and reindeer spotting.
I was absolutely certain I’d been here once before, on a school trip at around the age of seven. I remember the trip clearly as a day, but strangely, upon arrival and all throughout the day, there was absolutely nothing recognisable. I am still unsure if I have been here before. Perhaps it could be another one of my fake childhood memories. Nonetheless, the first thing I planned to do was visit the medieval deer park, which was first mentioned in 1362.
The park is of scientific interest as it has hundreds of ancient trees and there have been roaming deer here for almost 1000 years.
Walking through the spooky deer park
The more I moved into the park, which appeared to be more like an extremely eerie forest, the spookier it became, especially when I arrived at a creepy looking small house. I’m glad I was unaware at the time because this house is reportedly haunted. Nonetheless, I still stopped for photos, as you can see.
There wasn’t a single soul around. It gave me the impression that I was staring in a scary movie as the stupid one who goes walking alone.
Although I actually wanted to turn around at this point, I was determined to see the deer, so I kept on going.
Finally, I spotted a herd of deer in the distance. I wanted to take a closer look because, believe it or not, I’ve never actually seen a deer, at least not up close. But as I got closer, they seemed to have all vanished. Then, all of a sudden, I turned around, and there was this huge male Buck staring at me. Then I saw a huge herd of them, and from this point on, they all seemed to appear out of nowhere.
I was so delighted to see them, especially since I was told there was a possibility I wouldn’t due to the weather.
With c. 3000 acres of land here, there is plenty of ground to walk on and lots of outside buildings to discover.
Dunham Massey Watermill
The mill is a 17th-century corn mill that was later transformed into a saw mill in 1860. Sadly, after technology evolved and the mill became more expensive to run, it stopped working in the 1930s. It was later given to the National Trust in 1950.
There are tours available here to learn more about the mill and its history, but I didn’t attend these.
The historic stables
The stables at Dunham Massey were completed in the 18th century and have remained completely unchanged.
They were built to house around 25 animals, including race goats, ponies, cows, and carriages.
I had such a blissful time exploring the grounds that I hadn’t noticed that almost two and a half hours had passed by and I’d still not been to the main house.
I visited inside the house,but unfortunately unable to share photos
I eventually go inside the main house, but unfortunately, I cannot share any pictures because, although visitors are allowed to take photographs with no flash, they are not permitted to be shared inside some of the National Trust properties.
What it was like inside the house
I can tell you that this is a great house to visit. It takes you right back in time, and you can almost feel the atmosphere and the stories as you walk around.
I found it to be quite an eerie place, although that could have had something to do with my visiting on a quiet Tuesday morning and being in most of the rooms alone. Of course, there was staff on every floor, but obviously not in every room.
In some sections of the house, like the servants’ quarters, there are staff members dressed in traditional clothing like what the staff would have worn back in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I particularly liked the butler; he was really funny and filled my head with imagination by telling me stories of how the house was run.
Overall, it was a really lovely experience, and every member of staff here is super friendly and helpful.
If you would like more information about Dunham Massey, visit here.
I hope you enjoyed the blog today.
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