Cheshire Interiors - Marlfields Hall, Adlington

PUBLISHED: 10:25 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:25 16 May 2013

Main staircase at Marlfields Hall

Main staircase at Marlfields Hall


Ancestral home? Marlfields Hall in Adlington certainly looks the part, but appearances can be deceptive.

On the surface, Marlfields Hall looks every inch the ancestral home and its owner, Ted Derbyshire, its lord of the manor.

The imposing black and white exterior glimpsed at the end of a driveway off London Road in leafy Adlington is quite what the visitor would expect from a Tudor mansion.

However, according to Ted, the historic ambience is not all it seems. The property may date back to 1650 but the stained glass and oak beams which give the interior its gravitas, were installed by the previous owner who sold it for a modest £130,000 over 30 years ago.

‘It was an incomplete project then’, explains Ted a self-confessed ‘serial entrepreneur’ who is probably best known for establishing the Topps Tiles empire.

‘The man who had it before had high-flown ideas about the place for which I am very grateful. He fell out with his wife and wanted to sell it.

‘It was he who had the stained glass windows put in. I believe they are very old and German and the armorial bearings and suits of armour on the walls – well, I’ve no idea what they’re all about, it’s a bit of a mystery.’

On the ground floor, leading through to a games room the walls are lined with pictures. There are many of Ted’s family as well as a number of artworks.

‘There are prints from local artists on the walls which I have collected myself over the years. There’s one here of Timperley and another looking across the Tyne from Jarrow,’ he explains on a tour of the house.

‘They are just things that I like. That simple drawing there of the sun setting, my grandson did that. I’ve got paintings by quite a few of my grandchildren.’

Eye-catching too is a piano in one of the drawing rooms which is quite a simple yet quirky talking point.

‘I tried to play the piano but it’s a long hard road,’ admits Ted.

‘This belonged to my ex-wife’s father and I suspect it was bought during the war because parts of it don’t match. I think it’s what you call a utility piano.’

Originally a farmhouse owned by the Legh dynasty with 200 acres, the house has what Ted jokingly dubs the ‘North Wing’ and the ‘South Wing’ as well as a six-hole golf course. However, in reality this is above all a family home.

Set in six acres of land. It has various outbuildings which Ted has developed over the years, not so much as a building project but as an attempt to get his own space.

He explains: ‘At the time I bought the house, I lived here with my second wife and son but that didn’t last. My first wife, with whom I had five children died in 1973. I tried again and didn’t work so I lived here on my own for a bit, then when my mother was ill I converted a cottage on the land for her but she never made it.

‘Then my youngest daughter lost her house so she came to live with me with her son. And to get a bit of peace I converted the milking parlour out there into South Cottage, which has two bedrooms a bathroom and conservatory and is a very nice place. Next thing was my middle daughter came to live with me with her three children so to get a bit of peace I had the barn converted into a mews. I was determined to have a peaceful life!’

His hard-fought campaign for peace is well deserved, he reveals.

‘In total during my career I had between 20 and 30 businesses,’ he explains.

‘The last one which I sold was Topps Tiles. The suppliers all came to me and said: ‘There’s no such thing as a tile shop. There isn’t one anywhere in the world. I said “I’d like to try it” and they said “there’s nothing we can do to stop you. It won’t work – but it did.’

‘But I was glad to get out of it really. In my 50s I had a heart attack and it’s hard to come back from something like that.

‘I’ve always been an ideas man. My business partner Alan Brindle once said he thought he was holding me back. I said Alan- you’re not holding me back enough!’

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