Adlington Hall Shell Cottage Restoration 2013
Shell Cottage today stands as a focal point in the informal gardens, south of Adlington Hall. Its site has a long history with records dating back to 1727. In 1758 a payment was made to Mr Lyon, the then owner Charles Legh’s builder, for building of a greenhouse. This is the Cottage much as we see it today on the outside. It was designed with the front inspired by classical architecture that served the garden aesthetic, and the back to look like a rustic cottage that backed onto The Wilderness. This functional building will have had many purposes over the years, including the housing of different plants and fruit trees. The basement area would have been used as a dairy, due to it being cooler.
Sometime during the 1820’s the clumsy rockwork was installed around the building, this was considered the height of sophistication during this time. It would have been a work in progress, as was the shell decoration of the old greenhouse. The shells for decoration would have been provided and the decoration carried out by the ladies of the house. During this time as it was considered to be a suitable activity for ladies to partake in, an activity which was continued until at least the 1920’s and later revived in the 1960’s.
Fast forward to summer 2013, we welcomed the most innovative shell artist Blott Kerr-Wilson to the Estate, where she painstakingly restored the Shell Cottage to its ‘former glory’.
Unfortunately, although the Legh family tried to maintain the upkeep of the cottage, damp over time caused the walls to deteriorate and little of the original decoration remained. Blott however was able to reuse some of the original materials in her restoration work including; shells, glass and mirrors.
The present owner Camilla Legh, explains that during the 1970’s and 80’s her father, Charles Legh collected shells from all over the Caribbean. Her mother, Jane Norton, also collected shells from both the Caribbean and European Islands. These shells and some from her personal smaller collection are included as part of the original materials used.
Blott had to use specialist minerals for her restoration work, some of which were hard to source and found merely by fluke but all helped to bring her stunning art to life.
At the time Blott said “Because there was no logical design to the way the glass and mirror was used. I believe that this was because the pieces were off cuts donated and used directly. I know of no other shell house that has the wonderful free use of these materials. These bring this interior to life”
The doors to the Shell Cottage are open for the public to enjoy Blott’s stunningly beautiful work when we open to the public for our Open Days.
For more information on Blott Kerr Wilson see her website www.blottkerrwilson.com