Music at the Manor
Soiree returns in style
The year 1893 saw one of those inspired moments in history when, by chance, a fascinating story began to unfold. William, the first Viscount Leverhulme, bought Thornton Manor, a modest country house built in the 19th century in Thornton Hough on the Wirral, in which he, his wife Elizabeth Ellen, and his son, William Hulme would make their home. Then followed 25 years of reconstruction and alterations to the Viscount’s specifications and the Manor and the grounds became the breath-taking property that it is now. These days, Thornton Manor is a renowned and luxurious setting for weddings and business conferences but the elegant Grade 11 listed building is an ideal setting for concerts.
Music was an important part of the Leverhulme family’s life, as well as being a part of his entertaining of friends and important visitors. Picture the scene: ladies in finery and gentlemen in high, stiff collars would take the air round the landscaped grounds before proceeding into the entrance hall where drinks would be served.
At a sign from a uniformed attendant, those present would gather in the splendid 1902 Music Room. Here, they would be entertained by some of the most celebrated musicians of the day.
One of the features that the Viscount added was a pipe organ, built into a small balcony overlooking the assembled guests – a unique feature, even among great houses.
An imaginative look into a time long gone, perhaps, but there are plans to bring back to life Viscount Leverhulme’s original dream of creating a place where friends would gather to enjoy music in the lovely surroundings and relax in good company.
The team who intend to make this a reality has the same imagination and sense of history as had the Viscount himself. As part of the Wirral Arts Festival the Orchestra dell’arte, together with the present owners of the Manor will be hosting a trio of top artists from Welsh National Opera in an intimate recreation of a musical house party from the earliest days of the Music Room.
Once more, the superbly decorated and furnished space will resonate to some of the best voices in the UK. Known as Volante, tenor Simon Crosby Buttle and baritone Julian Boyce will perform some of the bestknown songs from the world of grand opera and musical theatre.
The programme ranges from the lascivious antics of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the tragedy of Bizet’s Carmen and the comic but dangerous meddling in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, to the charm of Gilbert and Sullivan’s foray into the craze for all things from the Far East of that time, The Mikado.
On Monday October 8th Music at the Manor will start in the original way, with drinks served from 6.45pm. Following in the historic footsteps of the Viscount’s guests, today’s music-lovers will stroll in the grounds until summoned to the Music Room at 7.45pm for the concert.
As the music plays, take a look up to the organ loft...you might catch a shadowy glimpse of the Viscount himself who will be thoroughly enjoying the spectacle! He would certainly approve. For further details please visit www.thorntonmanor.co.uk www.wirralartsfestival.co.uk www.dellarte.co.uk
“Today’s music lovers will stroll in the grounds until summoned to the Music Room for the concert”