In 1891, R.W.Hudson a wealthy soap manufacturer built his house on Vyner Road South, Bidston. He
built the half-timbered mock Tudor residence with courtyard as a replica of Little Moreton Hall near
Congleton in Cheshire and named it “Bidston Court”. The house cost over £150,000 to build and had
fine views westwards across the peninsula to the distant Welsh hills. Such was its prominence that,
during the First World War, the Germans had thought of using the tall chimneys as range detectors for
shelling Liverpool Docks. Sir Ernest Roydon, who was married to the daughter of Septimus Ledward,
bought “Bidston Court” in 1920. When Ledward died, “Hill Bark” came into the possession of Lady
Roydon, which meant that the family now owned both Bidston Court and Hill Bark.
In 1865 'Septimus
Ledward' esq J.P,
purchased a piece of land
in the small village of
Frankby from the
executors of John Robin.
The land which was at
the top of the summit in
the village, had originally
held an ancient tithe
barn at the top of the hill.
Septimus began building
his new house on the
land and by the year
1870 the new house had
been completed. The
large house was
designed by G T Grayson
of Liverpool and named
'Hill Bark'. The large
house also encompassed
large pleasure gardens
set out over 2 acres of
space containing a small
coach house and a clock
tower which can still be
seen today in the visitor
centre of Roydon Park.
This fine building was the
original Hill Bark which
stood for only 59 years
before being demolished
to make way for Bidston
Court. The reason for
this is as follows...
Bidston Court was already a renowned piece of architecture in Europe as it had already attracted the
attention of the Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany in 1911 who wanted to buy the house and have it
shipped back to Germany. Septimus Ledward did not want to agree to this but instead allowed the
Crown Prince to purchase the architects plans. On this basis the a replica was built by the Crown
Prince who subsequently refused to disclose the location of it. The location of the German replica
house was not known until Sir Ernest commissioned two agents to go to Germany to confirm its
existence. The house had indeed been created and had been named “Cecilianhof”. This is surprising
when you think that Bidston Court was actually based on Little Moreton Hall. That meant that there
were now 3 very similar buildings all derived from one.
The Roydon family like many other loved the architecture of the magnificent “Bidston Court”, but did not
like its position in Bidston. The decision was made to demolish the existing Hill Bark in Frankby and
move Bidston Court over to Frankby, a fright which is astonishing even by todays standards. In 1929
“Hill Bark” was demolished and “Bidston Court” was dismantled and moved piece by piece to Frankby.
The house was re-assembled using local architects and local builders and was ready for occupation by
1931. The house was given the name of the original name of "Hill Bark”
Sir Ernest died in 1960 and Hoylake UDC bought the property a year later. The house was opened as
a home for the elderly, this continued until a few years ago when “Hill Bark” became an hotel and
It is also worth noting that the Replica House called 'Cecilienhof' in Germany was used for the signing of
the Potsdam Agreement after the Second World War. The Potsdam Conference was held in
Cecilienhof, from July 16 to August 2, 1945. The participants were the Soviet Union, the United
Kingdom, and the United States. The three nations were represented by Communist Party General
Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee and President Truman.
There are many photographs of these famous faces gathered in what looks like our beloved Hill Bark
and one could be mistaken for thinking that Stalin & Churchill had visited Frankby.
|Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire
|Left: The Clock Tower of Hill Bark
|Left: The Potsdam Agreement