The house from a late 19th or early 20th century postcard
A circa 1595 portrait of Mary Fitton by an unknown artist. In a private collection. This image is in the public domain.
Earlier Houses: There was a Norman house on the site of today's rookery.
House & Family History: Built in 1480 (with later alterations and additions), Gawsworth Old Hall is considered one of the most beautiful black-and-white timber houses in England. It was at Gawsworth that Mary Fitton (circa 1578–1641), the youngest daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Alice Fitton, was born. Mary is important because she is reputed by some historians to have been “The Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets (127-152). She became a maid of honor at the court of Elizabeth I around the time (circa 1595) that a portrait of her by an unknown artist was painted (see "Images" section). At court Mary became the lover of William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who, this conjecture follows, was “The Fair Youth” of Sonnets 1-126. Mary was expelled from court in 1601, after it was discovered that she was pregnant with Lord Pembroke’s child. He refused to marry her. Mary gave birth to a baby boy that died shortly after it was brought into the world. In 1606 she became the wife of Captain William Polewhele; after his death she married John Lougher. The house is listed in Simon Jenkins's seminal 2003 book, "England's Thousand Best Houses."
Comments: “Cheshire’s Gawsworth Hall, built in 1480, is an Alice in Wonderland fever-dream of black and white timber dotted with clubs, its garden stage resembling a marquee on a particularly posh village green.” --"The Observer"
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II*
Current Seat / Home of: Richards family; here since 1962.
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: John Fitton, 14th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Edward Fitton, 16th century; Fitton family here from the 14th until the 17th century. Charles Gerard, 1st Earl of Macclesfield, 17th century. Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun, 18th century.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home