Cheshire history - The Slaughterhouse at Dunham Massey

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:08 30 June 2020

James Balme and Dunham Massey slaughter house

James Balme and Dunham Massey slaughter house


Our new contributor, James Balme, clambers through the undergrowth at Dunham Massey Hall to find a building that provided the Earls of Warrington with the finest venison.

Deep in the heart of Cheshire is a stunning and mysterious archaic building hidden away among mighty oak trees that have stood for more than 500 years in what was once a medieval deer park. The deer provided the Earls of Warrington with the best venison available throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and adorned their dining tables during lavish banquets to entertain the landed gentry of the period.

Local folklore referred to this building as The Slaughterhouse, but was this really the case?

I decided it was time I paid a visit to seek out the truth for myself, so I grabbed my coat and cameras and set off on my quest.

I arrived at the deer park and went to locate this mysterious building somewhere deep in the undergrowth. The ground was boggy underfoot and this was certainly not going to be as easy as I had hoped for. Undaunted, I soldiered on until suddenly before my eyes the shadowy outline of the building began to emerge in front of me between the mighty oak trees and, boy, was it worth all the effort to find it.

The building certainly had the wow factor but at the same time it sent shivers down my spine and looked like something out of a horror movie. I could already see why it had been labelled The Slaughterhouse.

But as mysterious and oppressive as this building may seem, the truth is less daunting than folklore would have us believe. It was erected circa 1740, as a place for the gamekeepers to hang deer carcasses, in preparation for dressing and jointing before being taken to the hall kitchens for roasting.

In the 19th century it was converted to a summerhouse, complete with fireplace.

This stunning building is (usually) accessible to anyone who cares to visit for themselves and it can be found in the grounds of Dunham Massey Hall and deer park near Altrincham.

My film, The Myth of the Slaughterhouse, shot at Dunham Massey, can be viewed for free by visiting my channel,

To keep up with the latest updates follow my facebook page at

James is an archaeologist and presenter based in Warrington. In 2007 he launched a YouTube channel, Tvpresenter4history, which has had more than 1.1 million viewers and hosts around 500 of James’s history and archaeology films, which are updated weekly.

He has followers across the globe, but especially in the UK and USA.

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