Wirral Flower Club transform Thornton Manor
14:23 14 January 2010
The beauty of Thornton Manor is one to behold at any time of the year. But at Christmas its star burns even brighter when Wirral Flower Club members give it a festive makeover.
Festive floral blooms of ruby reds, rich golds and lush greens sit slongside twinkling tea lights and roaring coal fires. Three huge Christmas trees are dressed by the award-winning club who also enhance Arley Hall and Gawsworth Hall for the festive season.
Only six families have owned the historic manor since the 18th century and it is still a working home. I'm sure everyone from Charles William Potts, the person thought to be responsible for building the first manor house here. to the current owner, Philip Cowan, would be thrilled to see the historic building adorned this way.
Preparations at the flower club usually start in September when the ladies start to come up with ideas. Workshops are held to create some of the smaller pieces and then 15 florists spend up to two days in early December filling Thornton Manor with beautiful decorations made from silk flowers.
'It's absolutely brilliant. It's a lovely time and it gets us in the Christmas mood,' explained chairman Anne Williams. 'There is a lot of planning that goes into it and we have a fantastic time doing it. We are careful not to go too over the top becuase it is still someone's home. But hopefully we give it a homely, comfortable feel as well as making it look wonderful.'
The club, which has been running for 46 years, has been decorationg the manor for four years. Small groups take it in turn each year to decorate the different rooms. For Anne, it is the music room, added to the manor in 1902, which she loves to decorate.
She explained: 'All the rooms are beautiful but the music room is something else. It's a huge room and is just absolutely stunning. There is a big Christmas tree in there to decorate and it's wonderful. the entrance hall is also a great part of the manor to decorate.'
Thornton Manor has had some prestigious and well known owners including businessman Thomas Brittain Forwood and his son and former Liverpool mayor, Sir William Forwood, who eventually sold the house to William Lever. In 1888, William Hesketh Lever and his family moved into the house during the construction of his factory in Port Sunlight. His son William Hulme Lever lived there and the third Lord Leverhulme, Philip William Bryce Lever, lived there until his death in 2000.
Today, Thornton Manor is often the venue for high profile charity events and is a popular wedding venue. But it is still primarlily someone's home.
Dianne Simpson, events and wedding co-ordinator, explained: 'The magic of Thornton Manor is that it is still a home, so has a lovely homely feel. That's probably one of the most special things about it.
'The house is really beautiful at Christmas. Every room has a coal fire in it that works and we have lots of candles lit in the rooms as well as the wonderful decorations the ladies put together. They do a really good job and it makes the house an even more special place.'