A fashion for keeping ornamental fowl
The Fowl House, or Poultry House as it is often known, was built in 1861, the date is set above the door. It is said to have been a birthday present for Georgina, one of the daughters of John Naylor of Leighton Hall, and was probably designed by the Liverpool architect W.H. Gee, who also designed the Hall and the church. A fashion for keeping ornamental fowl had been set by Queen Victoria, who built an elaborate Poultry House at Windsor in the 1840s.
The arrival of new and exotic breeds from abroad, such as Cochins, and the growth of experience in breeding new varieties at home, led to its becoming a popular hobby among all classes of society. Few people went into poultry-keeping on such a grand scale as John Naylor, but everything he did is of similar magnificence. He came from a family of Liverpool bankers, the Leylands, and spent large sums on the development of Leighton as a model estate in the 1850s. The Fowl House must have gone some way towards fulfilling the ideal of making the country house self-sufficient in produce, even if the chief purpose of the birds kept here was for decoration and amusement.
The Fowl House was divided into compartments for the different breeds and types of birds. Several of the nesting boxes survive, showing that large birds such as turkeys and geese were kept here, as well as hens and ducks. Each was carefully segregated from the other, even when let out into the yard to scratch, or onto the pond to swim. A storm shed was provided for wet days, and the whole complex was surrounded by a fence.
The everyday care of the birds was under the supervision of a Poultry-keeper, who lived in the cottage just beside the yard, today’s Landmark. It is in fact an earlier building, dating from about 1800, but was smartened up in 1861 to match its neighbours.
The Leighton estate was sold in separate lots by John Naylor's grandson in 1931. The Fowl House was included with the Forestry plantations, and has remained in the same ownership until it was sold to the Landmark Trust in 1988, which now cares for both the Fowl House and the cottage, now let for holidays.
A short history of Poultry Cottage
The full history album for Poultry Cottage
Download the children's Explorer pack for Poultry Cottage
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A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.
Monday 13th February 2014