Bramhall - a superb mix of urban and village atmosphere
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 February 2018
Community spirit is alive and well, as Paul Mackenzie reports.
Bramhall has been hailed as Cheshire’s culinary capital, home to one of the most supportive communities anywhere and the place to go for good independent shops and boutiques – and that’s just what we’ve said about the place over the years. It has also been named the friendliest place in the UK and it only takes a short walk around the village to see that it could well all be true.
Staff in the shops are cheery, the locals out and about are bright and breezy and even the children in school uniform are jolly (although they were on their way home, so that could explain that one).
This sunny disposition is something that appealed to Jonathan Dawson when he moved to Bramhall 12 years ago to take up the post as pastor at the Ford’s Lane Evangelical Church. He is originally from London and was previously based at a church a couple of hours from Madrid, so the transfer to the North West was something of a step into the unknown. ‘My wife did have images of Coronation Street in her mind before we moved,’ he said. ‘But she needn’t have worried – Bramhall is a lovely, friendly place and nothing like Coronation Street.
‘It’s not a place where everyone knows everyone, it’s too big for that, but there’s a superb mix of urban and village atmosphere. It’s very well connected with transport links and there are good local facilities – we still have our butcher, baker and green grocer as well some very good cafes and restaurants. There’s enough here for most needs.’
Jonathan is now the acting chair of the Bramhall Together Trust, a group founded about five years ago to host events and help bring the community even closer together.
‘We are a group of people representing local businesses and community groups and we aim to improve the life of the village,’ the father of three added. ‘Bramhall is a very friendly community and we are very proud of what we have achieved as a trust. We are only a small group of people but we have a big range of experience and expertise.’
The trust stages three major events each year – the Bramhall Festival in June (this year it’ll be on June 30), Bramhall’s Got Talent in October and the Christmas Festival. ‘The events we stage, particularly the two festivals, are growing,’ Jonathan added.
‘We have looked at maybe making the festival a bit more of a traditional fete or carnival on the recreation ground but we don’t want to change anything too much. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say. And finance is always a big challenge for groups and events like ours.’
What doesn’t seem to be a challenge in Bramhall is drumming up support for these community events – if you have any doubt about the levels of community spirit here, visit the I Love Bramhall website, set up by Wendy Green, a founder member of the Bramhall Together Trust. Or better still, visit the place itself.
While you’re there, make sure you take a trip to Bramall Hall; the ‘h’ was apparently dropped to make it easier to say. The oldest parts of the hall date back to Tudor times and for around 400 years it was home to the Davenport family.
The Victorian owner of Bramall Hall, Charles Nevill, made extensive improvements and changes to the hall’s interiors and the surrounding 70 acres of parkland. This included changes to the architecture of the black and white timber-framed house. And following a £1.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the hall has recently had some further renovations. The historic grade I listed building and the adjacent grade II listed stable block re-opened last summer after 18 months of restoration work.
A new butler’s pantry and a small dining room have been opened as part of the public tour and the rundown stable now houses a gift-shop, small visitor centre and classrooms. Historic decorative glass has been restored and the ornate, plaster ceiling in the withdrawing room needed a delicate project of stabilisation and redecoration which involved removing modern paint, conserving plasterwork and painting in authentic colours based on historic paint analysis.
In December, the restoration project was awarded the Regional Institute of Historic Building Conservation Award and Project architect Mark Pearce from Manchester based Lloyd Evans Prichard said: ‘It’s been a pleasure to work on such a project which has included conservation work to the highest level of execution as well as creative additions and alterations to the historic structures.’