Croxteth Hall stands in a 500 acre country park in the suburbs of Liverpool. The large quadrangular house is the ancestral home of the Molyneux family.
From the 16th century the Catholic Molyneux family were rivals to the Stanley Earls of Derby for the control of Liverpool.
They lived originally in Sefton but in 1575 Sir Richard Molyneux built a new house at Croxteth. Remnants of this building can be seen embedded in the south wing.
In 1702 Richard, 4th Viscount Molyneux, added the west wing – the most impressive part of Croxteth Hall. The 4th Viscount converted to Anglicanism and in 1771 the 8th Viscount became 1st Earl of Sefton.
During the 19th century the family received huge profits from the expansion of Liverpool over the family’s estates.
This new wealth enabled the family to build large extensions to Croxteth Hall.
In 1874 – 77 the 4th Earl engaged T.H.Wyatt to add south and east wings, incorporating the 16th century building.
The vast north range was added in 1902-04 by the 5th Earl, to designs by John MacVicar Anderson. This range closed the courtyard and Croxteth Hall became a fully-equipped Edwardian mansion.
In 1952 a fire started in the west wing and gutted many of the important interiors at Croxteth Hall. When the 7th and last Earl of Sefton died in 1972 the estate was broken up.
Croxteth Hall and half the park were given to Liverpool City Council.
However, most of the contents of the house were sold and today the rooms on display are furnished with pieces from the city’s museum and the Walker Art Gallery.
Special events and attractions are also held most weekends at Croxteth Hall and Country Park.
Croxteth Hall is reached across the flat, well-wooded country park and appears quite suddenly. The finest part of the house is the west front, built in 1702.
The red brick façade has stone dressings, painted white. Running the length of the façade, in front of the basement, is a terrace with round and oval windows set in it. The windows above are closely spaced and have alternately segmental and triangular pediments. At the centre of the façade is a portal which has paired Corithinian columns and an armorial panel instead of a window.
The impressive Edwardian north front, created by MacVicar Anderson, is based on the west front but is more conventional. T.H. Wyatt’s Victorian south and east wings were built in Tudor style and on the south front, just to the left of Wyatt’s gatehouse, the remains of the original 16th century house, with two gabled attic windows, can be seen.
The entrance to Croxteth Hall is in the north wing and visitors pass through a display area before crossing the courtyard to the late-Victorian kitchens.
From here a back staircase leads to a corridor running behind the west wing and into an Ante-Room and then the large top-lit Staircase Hall. These rooms are decorated in rich mid-Victorian Italaniate style. Victorian paintings from the Walker Art Gallery hang in the Staircase Hall and Sèvres china is displayed in wall cases.
In the west wing only two rooms are on view. The Breakfast Room, with modern bolection panelling, contains 19th century paintings and furniture from the Walker Art Gallery. In the Card Room the panelling is original and there is early-18th century furniture and Sefton portraits dating from the same period.
The Smoking Room, where MacVicar Anderson’s north wing joins the west wing, has its original panelling and Edwardian decoration. This room is furnished appropriately and the walls are hung with late-Victorian portraits.
Near the centre of the north front is the impressive Billiard Room, which has Edwardian furniture and is decorated with sporting paintings and landscapes. This grand room most envokes the atmosphere of the Edwardian age at Croxteth Hall.
Running behind the north wing is a long vaulted corridor hung with more 19th century sporting paintings. Lady Sefton’s rooms, set further along, consists of her Sitting Room, Dressing Room and Bedroom. These rooms have Victorian and Edwardian furniture but only the Bedroom, created by the 4th Earl in 1878, was made for the house.
Lord Sefton’s rooms, including his luxurious fitted bathroom, are at the end of the north wing.
Outside, the red brick stable block dates from the early-18th century. This now houses a collection of 19th century carriages and carts. Hidden behind shrubs is a splendid pair of gatepiers.
Several other estate buildings are on view including the Laundry and Dairy, designed by W. Eden Nesfield, and the Kennels built by John Douglas.