John Jervis Tollemache (1805-1890) served as High Sheriff of Cheshire and was elected as MP for both Cheshire South and Cheshire West.
In 1840 his connection to the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge saw the purchase of a sprawling landed estate, on which was to be built Peckforton Castle.
Designed by the architect Anthony Salvin, a fortified home in the style of a medieval castle was created, boasting a gatehouse, a portcullis, a dry moat, external windows shaped as arrow slots, and large towers. The outcome, a seriously fortified home, creating a refuge from potential social disturbances.
In 1876, Tollemache was awarded a Lordship in recognition of his services to agriculture.
William Ewart Gladstone described him as 'the greatest estate manager of his day'. Tollemache was generous to his tenants and advocated improvement of their social conditions; a legacy of remarkable farmhouses and cottages remain scattered throughout the Peckforton Estate. He believed in a self-reliant labouring class and popularised the idea of tenants not only having a cottage but with sufficient land to keep livestock and this against the backcloth of cattle plague and rinderpest in particular.
- During the Great War, Peckforton Castle served as Military Hospital. At that time, Lady Wynford Tollemache was appointed as 'Commandant'. Local men and women undertook a variety of jobs, not least as VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurses). In fact, Lady Tollemache wrote an individual comment on each VAD Record Card, creating a unique social history of the period CLICK HERE.
- During World War II, the Castle provided care for physically handicapped children who had been evacuated from the London area.
(image from the National Portrait Gallery collection)