Croxteth Hall in the 1820s
The walled kitchen garden today
Croxteth was a pre-conquest thegnland, which was afforested and put into the
royal forest of Toxteth by the early C13. In the mid C15 the park, from which
much of the timber had been cleared, was granted to the Molyneux family (later
Earls of Sefton) with whom it descended until C20.
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.
The former 214ha (530a) estate of the Earls of Sefton was conveyed in 1974
by deed of gift to the City of Liverpool and was transferred in the same year
to the then new Merseyside County Council, where it was managed by Merseyside
County Council Museums department. The estate as a whole was designated a
country park in 1979.
Shortly after that, Mull Wood, a 20ha (50a) woodland, was designated under
section 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 as
a Local Nature Reserve (1981). It was designated for its ‘educational
value to nature conservation’. The boundaries of this LNR have recently
been expanded (2005).
In 1986 as a result of the abolition of MCC the Merseyside Residuary Body
managed the country park and arranged its final transfer in 1989 to Liverpool
City Council Environmental Services Department.
The park today
One of Liverpool’s most popular attractions the Park includes a rare
breeds farm, local nature reserve, walled kitchen garden, historic hall and
extensive woodland combining to create a fascinating award winning 200ha country
estate in the city.