An ancient manor house wrapped in romance,
intrigue and great charm. Here you will find
the Fitton family Chapel, first licensed in 1365,
and still used by the family today.
The original Norman house was rebuilt in 1480 and,
following extensive remodelling in 1701, was the
subject of the most famous duel in English history –
in 1712 Lord Mohun and the Duke of Hamilton
fought over the estates and both duellists were killed.
Here lived Mary Fitton, the younger daughter of Sir Edward and Lady Alice Fitton (Sir Edward had inherited Gawsworth Hall on the death of his father in 1579). Mary is possibly the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Her short, but brilliant career at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I (where she was appointed Maid of Honour in 1596) ended in 1602 following a rather wild affair with the Earl of Pembroke - she became pregnant, a matter that so outraged the Virgin Queen that both she and the Earl were sent to the Tower for an undisclosed period
The tilting ground forms part of a vast Elizabethan pleasure garden of approximately 30 acres, at the time being set within a larger park of some 600 acres - a vast private estate for the enjoyment of the Fittons and their guests. After Mary's disgrace from court the Fitton finances never recovered and, at the end of the English Civil War, a long legal battle began between Sir Charles Gerard (later the 1st Earl of Macclesfield) and Alexander Fitton over the Gawsworth estates.
This battle was eventually settled in 1663, but events came to a head again in 1701 with the death of Fitton Gerard (the 3rd Earl of Macclesfield) who left no male heirs. The estate was left to a niece, Lady Mohun, and was contested by another niece, the Duchess of Hamilton. It was this dispute that culminated in the famous duel
Samuel Johnson, the last professional jester in the country,
lived in the house and, eccentric to the last,
he lies buried in the spinney know as
‘Maggoty Johnson’s Wood’.
Members of Mandy who have worked for Gawsworth Hall