The park itself is large and houses a sports centre and a lake. The lake that was once a beautiful boating lake is now used by fishermen who catch only the hardiest fish who can live in the murky water. It is hard to imagine that this area was once part of the land belonging to some of the richest men in Liverpool. It must have been a beautiful area that few people would have been allowed access to. Somewhere in the area was the magnificent Walton Hall but exactly where the Hall was situated has not been determined until now.
When he died in 1827, his widow Ellen continued to live in Walton Hall until her death in 1839. Thomas' nephews Richard and Christopher Bullin inherited the estate. The brothers took the Leyland name and coat of arms as per the instructions of their uncle's will. Richard moved from Fazakerley into the grand hall after his aunt's death but he and his brother Christopher died childless so the hall passed onto their sister Dorothy and her husband John Wrench Naylor. Incidentally Christopher Bullin bought Leighton Hall and gave it to his nephew John (son of Dorothy and John) as a wedding present.
Walton Hall fell into disrepair after the death of Dorothy and was demolished around the turn of the century.
The land was eventually bought by Liverpool City Council. Walton Hall Park and Avenue was then laid out. This 1897 map of the area shows the position of the Hall but it has been unclear where the Hall was in relation to the present day. The general assumption is that it must have been in the parkland, although one source suggested that it was nearer to the old zoological gardens on Rice Lane.
Peter Auldis in "Pictures and Thoughts on Walton's Past History" describes the estate at the time of Leyland as having a half a mile long driveway entered through massive wrought iron gates and flanked by rhododendrons. This grand entrance was situated in the Haggerston Road area. It is interesting to note that the name Haggerston may have came from Haggerston Castle in Northumberland which was part of the Leyland Estates.
Moor Lane arched around the back of the hall before joining up with another lane as seen on the this map above. The lane it connects with went from Long Lane (almost opposite to today's cemetery) to the Hall itself. This may have been called Lodge Lane as this name appears on other maps but this is not confirmed. This "Lodge Lane" must have been closed with the building of the railway as it would have had to pass under or over two lines at this point. Moor Lane must have been extended down to Walton Hall Avenue following the path of what would become the main pathway in the park. It then turned sharply left and went under a new stone bridge toward Stopgate Lane. This "new"road is obvious on the 1902 map of the area. Tom's neighbour recalled that this became the outwardbound carriageway of Walton Hall Avenue after it passed under the stone railway bridge. The bridge was replaced by the current box girder bridge when the road was made into a dual carriageway. He also confirmed that the rest of Moor Lane before the bridge became the main pathway in the park.
There appears to be another lane to the hall coming from Lily Grove, off Cherry Lane. This is interesting as there are remains of substantial sandstone walls still evident amidst the newer buildings. More information about this later.
My research continues into the hall itself. Auldis described it as surrounded by "magnificent timber" and adjoined by a picturesque walled garden and gardeners cottage, which can possibly be discerned from the 1897 map.
Another area of interest is the Stanley Park and Anfield Road area. Stanley Park was created on land partly owned by Leyland and his nephew lived in Anfield Road. If passing the area the newly refurbished Gladstone Conservatory is well worth a visit.
Thank you to those people, especially Tom, who have took the time to help me with this fascinating story. If anyone has any further information which will help in my ongoing research, please email me at the address below.
February 2009 (updated April 2009)