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The extraordinary history and heritage of Thornton Manor

In 1888, Thornton Manor became the home of William Lever, the world’s greatest philanthropic industrialist. 

In the same year, Lever began construction of Port Sunlight factory and village for his workers, arguably the finest surviving example of early urban planning in the world.

 

Over the next 25 years, here in Thornton Hough, Lever rebuilt this magnificent historic country estate which remains virtually unchanged to this day.  During his lifetime he achieved world wide recognition but after his death he became almost unknown.  After the death of the 3rd Viscount Leverhulme in the year 2000, the Manor House and nearly all other buildings on the estate became empty and along with the historic gardens fell further into disrepair. The present custodians have undertaken a huge ongoing restoration and maintenance project which commenced in 2005.  For the first time in its history, the house and grounds were made available for hire to the public for events. So far, almost all profits from events in the house and marquees in the grounds have been spent on ongoing restoration, maintenance and improvement.  By holding your event at Thornton Manor, you will be helping to preserve this historic site for future generations.

1888
1888

Sir William Forwood lets the manor house to William Lever

William Lever (later to become 1st Viscount Leverhulme) was co-owner of Lever Brothers, which would later become Unilever.

1893
1893

William Lever purchases Thornton Manor and soon begins a number of alterations and additions to the property

1899
1899 - 1906

A series of large additions to the property are commissioned by William Lever

These additions included the stables, a new music room and a new porch that changed the main entrance of the house from the west to the south.

1910
1910

The gatehouse is constructed

The gatehouse (which can still be seen today) was designed by J. Lomax-Simpson.

1911
1911

William Lever, now a very successful industrialist and philanthropist, becomes a baronet

The Baronetcy was given to him upon reccomendation of the Liberal Party (for whom he had served as an MP between 1906 and 1909), William Lever becomes Sir William Lever.

1913
1913

Major reconstruction work takes place, with Elizabethan-style wings added to the house

Elizabethan-style wings were added to the west side of the house and much of the work designed by Douglas and Fordham was demolished.

1917
1917

Sir William Lever becomes Baron Leverhulme

1922
1922

William Lever, the son of a humble grocer, becomes Viscount Leverhulme

1925
1925

Viscount Leverhulme passes away

On the 7 May 1925, William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme passed away. His funeral was attended by 30,000 people.

He was succeeded by his son, William Lever, 2nd Viscount Leverhulme, to whom the ownership of Thornton Mannor passed.

1949
1949 - 2000

Thornton Manor passes to Philip Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme after the death of his father

Philip was fanatical about horse racing, and had a stud at the Manor.

He was a friend of the Royal Family, Her Majesty the Queen Mother stayed regularly at Thornton Manor sharing with Phillip his passion for horse racing.

Other members of the Royal Family would also stay at Thornton Manor including Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, and Lord Snowdon, along with many other visitors such as members of other royal families, heads of state, Prime Ministers and politicians, captains of industry and people of the arts and academic world.

2000
2000

Philip Lever, 3rd Viscount Leverhulme passes away

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Historic Photographs from Thornton Manor

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