Part of the estate belonged to the monks of Titley Abbey, Essex. A monastic grange had been built known as 'Beausee' which meant beautiful site. Between 1264 and 1280, the hall was owned by William de Boteler, Lord of the Manor of Warrington.
In 1255 William de Boteler, under the authority of Henry III, granted Warrington its first market charter.
Bewsey Old Hall
By 1307 the Boteler family had made it their home. They lived here until 1586 when the hall was passed to the Earl of Leycester, Robert Dudley and then on to the Bold family. In 1597, the estates and the hall were passed to the Ireland family.
The hall had a royal visitor when James I stayed there for a night.
The present structure is no earlier than 1597, it was probably rebuilt by new owners which often happened to these houses. There is nothing left of the de Boteler’s original moated house. The grounds go down to part of the Sankey Navigation where there is an unusual sluice and a lock.
After World War One, Bewsey was chosen as an area for new housing development, making the town come even nearer to the hall. During the Second World War, there were many Americans stationed in the area and an American family even stayed in the hall for a while.
Orford was part of the Warrington Manor mentioned in the Domesday Book. The name Orford means 'upper ford'.
In the 19th century, there was a large enclosed area which may have been a park - which is now Greenwood Crescent. It can be dated as far back as the 15th century, when it’s thought that a park was created for hunting after 1066. Old parks usually suggest old halls and this may have been the first site of Orford Hall.
The hall was a white-fronted house at the bottom of Orford Avenue and was one of the most important buildings in Warrington, yet there isn’t much documentary evidence about it. It was demolished in 1935.
William Beamont, a local historian, lived there for 23 years and he thought there was a originally a moated house, built on the site in the 13th century, by the Norris family – and a sketch by Robert Booth in 1830 shows a house called 'Norris House'. This house is dated as being 17th century.
Then, when Elizabeth or Anne Norris married Thomas Tildesley around 1616, he built a large mansion which in 1633 was known as the ‘Hall of Tildesley’.
The area of land belonging to the hall, now known as Orford Park and Longford Fields, was often flooded and in winter used for ice-skating. Because of the flooding, John Blackburne raised the road on the causeway at Longford. As recent as 1920, there was a memorial bowling green on part of the waterlogged site.
In 1638, Thomas Blackburne bought the former Norris Hall and estate and his son, Johnathon, made major alterations to the hall. Joseph Litton owned the house after Blackburne but it’s thought that he moved due to the arrival of the railway.
John Blackburne bought the manor of Warrington in 1764 and it’s probably he who planted the avenue of limes, which now form Orford Lane.
After the Blackburnes, the hall was let to the Honourable Lucy Hornby, whose grandson Edmund was the first MP for Warrington borough. After her death, her two daughters let the hall to the Misses Rigg and Fishwick, and it was then used as a young ladies school. It then became the home of William Litton, his two sisters, Mary and Jane, and his brother, Joseph, until 1866.
The Beamonts then lived here. William Beamont was the town's first mayor and following his death in 1889 his widow, Letitia, remained at the hall. When the Beamonts left the property it was left to go to ruin until taken over by Warrington Training College, along with Fairfield Hall.
The obelisk, which is now in Winifred Street, was erected by John Ireland Blackburne in memory of his grandfather, John Blackburne. The monument was moved towards the end of the 19th century to the area now known as Orford Lane.
The property was later offered to the town as a memorial to the men who were fighting in the Great War at the time and requested to be used as a 'free public park and recreation ground'. In December 1916, the council accepted the hall for the town. Development was postponed by the war until the 1920s and in May 1924, the bowling green was opened. On 4 October 1924, the Town Hall Park and Baths Committee allowed the building to be demolished.
The original Whitecross comes from a white cross standing in the middle of the road leading from Warrington to Sankey. In 1722 the cross was shown on a map as being at the present junction of Liverpool Road and Green Street. It’s thought that the cross may have been used by friars from Warrington Friary to preach to travellers, or used by funeral processions as a resting place.
In the 19th century there was a Whitecross Station on the Warrington to Runcorn railway line.