The following information was compiled in the early 1980s by F. W. Lawton. Since that time, much has transpired relating to the Lawton Manor and Lawton Hall. At the bottom of this page is a brief synopsis of more recent events. For the latest information, see the Lawton Hall portion of this website.

Taken from the writings of F. W. Lawton and sources cited within:


During the months of September and October 1983 Stephen Lawton, of the 11th generation in America, and his wife Adrienne were touring in England. While there they visited Lawton Hall which is the seat of the Lawton Estate that dates back in direct line to Adam de Lauton the first lord of Lauton mediety.

The following account combines information gathered from their host and guide, the Headmaster of Lawton Hall, Mr. Arthur Brown; a recently published English newspaper story written from interviews with Mr. Clarence Cooper water bailiff and caretaker of Lawton Hall and Mr. Frederick Harrison founder and retired Headmaster of Lawton Hall School; the personal observations of Stephen Lawton while touring the Estate.


Lawton Pool at midnight is an eerie place. Even its guardian is sometimes alarmed and he is not a man who easily.frightens

Clarence Cooper watches over what is left of a 12th century 'Adam's Eden'. It is part of the Cheshire border village of Church Lawton often overlooked except by churchgoers, anglers, walkers and visitors to the private school that now occupies the premises.

By day it is a place of beauty, with a lively young population. When school is out and night falls, then history and mystery descend with the darkness.

The old Church Lawton lies hidden from travelers on the busy modern highway who would tend to think that the heart of the village lies just under a mile away among the modern housing and estates that provide it with most of its population.

But it is around the church, the hall and the pool that the history of the village has been woven.

As the pool's water bailiff and the hall's odd job man, Clarence Cooper has become familiar with both the tangible and intangible links with the past during the 20 years he has been associated with the Lawton squires' estate.

The first Adam de Lauton lived during the reigns of King John (1199-1216) and King Henry III (1216-72). Historical legend tells of a time in his life when he rescued the Earl of Chester from an attack by a wounded animal and in gratitude was granted "that amount of land around which he could walk in a day." His walk circumscribed a one thousand acre parcel of land which originally stretched from Congleton to Sandbach and as far as Longport.

The story of Adam and the bleeding wolf (seen as the crest of the Lawton family arms) has been well sung. A local pub at nearby Scholar Green commemorates it in writing on the cover of its menu. This thousand acre estate became the Parish of Lauton and is so recorded in the Domesday Book.

By the time Adam arrived on the scene Lawton already had a church. That was built at the end of the 11th century by Hugh de Mara, lord of the county of Chester; the honor was conferred upon him by his brother-in-law, William the Conqueror.

Hugh, known as The Wolf, was known to have "lived it up a bit". When stricken ill he vowed that if his life were spared he would turn over a new leaf.

This he did and as a result built a Norman church on the site of an old Saxon burial ground at Lawton. The church was linked with the Abbey at Chester and over the years the abbots coveted the land at Lawton, in the hands of the squires.

The parish remained divided until the Reformation when Squire William Lawton bought the church patronage from King Henry VIII.

All that remains of the original church is a late 12th century porch and a few 13th century tiles found during the late 19th century restoration.

A memorial commemorating a 17th century tragedy can be found beneath the east window. There 11 men and boys were buried, victims of lightning that struck the bell tower during a service. Such was the discipline of the day that the rector continued with his sermon and the rest of the service before the body count began.

Adam was the first in a long line of Squire Lawtons. Male descent has remained unbroken since 1150. Ownership has been kept in the Lauton (Lawton) family although the amount of land held has diminished over the years. Presently, (1983), the Lawton Estate covers a modest amount of land extending from the church-yard (see map) to the road and to the far side of the pool. Upon this estate stands Lawton Hall, several small buildings and a row of Carriage sheds, the later now used as a bus garage.

The estate is presently in the hands of Alister Lawton Esquire, a direct descendant of the Lawton line, who lives in Deal, Kent County with his wife and at least one son. Squire Geoffrey, now living in Spain, and two sons, own the land around the hall and pool and two farms.

The original Lawton Hall stood somewhat to the east of the present structure on what is now a cricket field. Verification of this site was recently obtained while workmen were resurfacing the field and a large roller dropped into what proved to be a portion of the moat around the original structure.

The present Lawton Hall, which housed the direct line of descent of the family until the early part of the 20th century, was built in the 17th century. Substantial alterations have subsequently been made.

The description on page 13 from 'The Buildings of England' must have been made at an earlier time when the family was still in residence.

The entrance to Lawton Hall features a now disused Jacobean fireplace and two matching chairs. Opposite is a breakfront dating from the early 19th century. The central stairway seemed Victorian in design. Leading from the entranceway the Rococo ceilings in what is now the assembly room and the study are intact, although the remainder of the assembly room has been stripped of ornamentation. Generally the interior is a hodgepodge of styles. Wooden panels in the study are badly fitted, perhaps because they were moved from the previous structure.

The lake behind Lawton Hall, referred to as 'the pool', has no name. It is fed by an underground stream, has only one obvious outlet which is used to supply the village's sewage system. A fee is charged for fishing the pool, although the Headmaster can fish gratis.

The family, never particularly wealthy and never titled, have added much colour and mystery to the village's past. From their ranks cam the 'grey lady', said to haunt the hall and the pool. She was the wife of one of the Lawton squires who, it is said, arose one night and sleepwalked to her death in the pool.

The long unbroken line of Lawtons has included churchmen, archers, an M. P. and its fair share of "naughty" boys.

Early in the 19th century, one of the Lawton squires drank and/or gambled himself into sufficient debt as to cause the deed to the Lawton estate to pass into the hands of the estate bailiff, who lived across the valley. One night the squire's wife, whose name was Anne, having learned that the bailiff lay dying, walked across the valley and then literally stole the deed from the man as he lay on his deathbed. In the entrance hall of Lawton Hall hangs a painting of Anne and she is depicted holding the deed in her hands.

Although four or five of the squires of Lawton had wives named Anne, the 19th century date would seem to indicate that this was Anne the daughter of Henry Featherstonehaugh and wife of Charles Bourne Lawton, Esq. He died in 1860 at the age of 89.

[see UPDATE below]

There is a legend that Charles the 2nd passed through the house while escaping from the Roundheads. A secret passage is said to run from beneath a stone-flagged corridor to the church. Current residents believe they have located the well-sealed opening but as yet have not explored it.

Near the pool there is a large oak tree called King Charles' tree and in the former dining room a portrait of the King once hung. This has been removed and stored along with a number of Lawton family portraits.

As previously stated, the estate is still the property of Lawtons, however the last squire to live there left during the period of World War I. The hall stood empty for a time before being used as a hospital after the First World War and during the second was used by the War Department to house the local fire service. The small buildings on the property date from this period.

In between wars the hall became a hotel and after the War Department left, it was used as a special school for the handicapped.

In 1952 the hall was leased by Mr. Harrison for the purpose of housing the second of two schools he ran. In 1960 the first school, the Eversliegh Private School of Basford, was combined with the school at Lawton Hall. Presently about 70 pupils are enrolled at the school, which offers instruction for ages three to college. As many as 370 pupils have been enrolled. The school's business affairs are run by Mr. Harrison's daughter, as he is seventy-five years old and in failing health.

Yorkshire born Mr. Arthur Brown, former head of the English Department at Congleton's Heathfield School, is currently (1983) Headmaster at Lawton Hall School.

Click here to view a map of the Lawton Manor

Click here to view a picture of Lawton Hall


On May 8, 1998, I received an e-mail from Robert J. Farrell, Chairman of the Lawton Heritage Society, Church Lawton, England. The Lawton Heritage Society publishes the Lawton Chronicles, which provide further information regarding the Lawton Family in England. Robert noted the following error in the entry above regarding "Anne", the unidentified wife of a 19th century Lawton squire:

"I have spotted an error in your entry on the Lawton Manor. At the beginning of page 3 you suggest that the Anne who stole the Lawton deed papers to be the wife of Charles Bourne Lawton [CBL]. This is incorrect, the Anne in question was the mother of CBL and the daughter and coheiress of Charles Crewe M.P. Charles Bourne Lawton's first wife Anne (nee Featherstone) died in childbirth (the child died also). CBL then remarried Mariana Percy Belcombe, we have unearthed considerable scandal attached to this second wife and you can read all about it in Vol 3 of the Lawton Chronicles. Your paragraph on the secret passage from the Hall to the Church is covered in Vol 2 of the Lawton Chronicles."


 June 30, 2003:

It has been nearly five years since I originally posted the above information on the internet, and what a story has it unveiled. Although the early history of Lawton Hall/Manor is most intriguing, the past 15-20 years have seen probably the most unfortunate chapter in the saga of Lawton Hall and its surrounding property. I have devoted an entire section of this website to the recent history of the Hall, so I will not go into great detail here.

To give a brief overview, the Lawton Hall School closed in 1986, just months after my grandfather (F. W. Lawton)  visited the property. The photograph linked in the above article is one that was taken on his visit. It is probably one of the last photographs taken of the Hall before a terrible turn of events. The Hall stood empty for several years after the closing of the school. Questions arose as to its ownership. It seems that the building had been used for public service for so long that some uncertainty had developed pertaining to the true landlord of the property. Several corporations eventually claimed interests in the Hall during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their intent seemed to be set on development of the property, first as a hotel or resort and later as a private housing development.

While ideas floated around about the next use of the Hall, and questions of its ownership lingered, the actual property and its structures remained vacant and became derelict. In the mid-1990s, the Hall fell victim to vandalism and theft. The Jacobean fireplaces were dismantled and stolen, the interior vandalized, and even many of the trees on the property were harvested and removed. In 1997, the old Hall met its worst fate when a series of fires gutted the interior of the building (possibly set intentionally, but no one knows for sure). Soon the local government proposed the demolition of the Hall, since it had become a danger to the safety of its trespassers.

I became aware of the tragic plight of Lawton Hall in March of 1999, thanks to a passing e-mail from a visitor of these pages. I created a section of my website dedicated to this sad tale and it has generated enormous interest over the past few years. Please follow the link at the bottom of this page to visit that  portion of the website.

The thought of Lawton Manor being wiped from the English Countryside has caused me much heartache, but since my Lawton ancestry is more than 350 years removed from the shores of that island, I know there is little I can do but chronicle these events. I hope yet to be able to visit the property in person someday, no matter what form it has taken presently or will take in the future. The legend of the Hall will always carry more weight in my heart than any physical linkage to the past, but the place where my name was born will always call to me in the depths of my soul.


Matthew Frederick Lawton

Click here to continue the ongoing tale of Lawton Hall...

Click Here to Return to the Realm of Lawton Homepage