Dunham Massey has a long history, as reflected in its 45 historically listed buildings.
It was a locally important area of Cheshire County during the medieval period, and was the
seat of the ancient Massey barony. The Georgian hall, with the remains of a castle
on its grounds, is now a popular tourist attraction.
The old Roman road between Chester and York passes between Dunham Massey and
the city of Bowdon and today forms the boundary between the two. The name Dunham is derived
from the Anglo-Saxon "dun", meaning hill. The Massey element of the name is a
result of its ownership by the Massey (Masci) family. The manor of Dunham is recorded
in the Domesday Book of 1086 as having belonged to the Saxon thegn Aelfward
before the Norman Conquest and to Hamo de Masci after.
The addition of "Massey" to the name Dunham reflects the manor's importance;
Dunham was the seat of the Masseys. The importance of Dunham is further
emphasised by the presence of two of de Massey's castles: Dunham Castle and
Watch Hill Castle on the border with Bowdon; a third, Ullerwood Castle,
was near Hale.
The Booth family inherited the estate through Sir Robert Booth (d 1460), second son of John Booth of Barton,
most of the Massey lands in 1409 when the Massey baron
line became extinct, with Dunham
Massey remaining at the heart of the estate. The Booth name originated
as the name for someone who lived in a small hut or bothy, especially
a cowman or shepherd. Adam de Booth, progenitor of the distinguished
Booth lineage was a descendant of a Norman family of state, who came
to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and settled in the county
By the Elizabethan period, the original Dunham Massey Castle had been
demolished. Probably during the medieval period
Dunham Massey Hall became the home of the manorial lord, and a center of power
in the area. The hall was rebuilt by the Booths in 1616, leaving no remains of the old
medieval hall. The mill at Dunham was first documented in 1353, although the
mill's present structure dates to the 1860s. It lies on the River Bollin,
opposite Little Bollington. The Dunham Massey Deer Park dates to before 1353.
In 1736, Lady Mary Booth, the daughter of Sir George Booth
(1675-1758), 2nd Earl of
Warrington married Harry Grey, 4th Earl of Stamford,
becoming Mary Countess of Stamford
bringing the Stamford title to Dunham. In 1772 the
Countess died and Dunham Massey was inherited
by the Grey family who continued
to own Dunham Massey until the death of the 10th and last
Earl of Stamford in 1976.
The 10th Earl left Dunham Massey in its entirety to the British National Trust.
At the time, the 3000 acre estate and the house, including all its
contents, made Lord Stamford's bequest the wealthiest in the Trust's history.
The estate is now operated by the National Trust as a museum and deer park and welcomes visitors.