This magnificent building is a hen house. It was built in 1861 by John Naylor of Leighton Hall as a birthday present for his daughter Georgina. Following in the footsteps of that noted poultrywoman, Queen Victoria, Mr Naylor had this luxurious Fowl House built to house a collection of exotic and ornamental birds - hens, ducks, geese and turkeys and doves. The fortunate fowl were accomodated in discreet apartments according to breed and had tiered roosts, pop-holes and a scratching yard with stormshelter for those rainy days. The water fowl had their own pool at the front of the building. This is the front elevation with the pool at the front just behind the rail. Makes our hen-house-on-wheels look very modest.
Naylor's archiect W H Gee of Liverpool spared no expense and paid great attention to detail as can be seen by the beautiful windows and door furniture.
The everyday care of the birds was under the supervision of a Poultry Keeper who lived in a cottage adjacent to the yard. Both Poultry Cottage and The Fowl House now belong to the Landmark Trust, a charity which restores neglected historic buildings and gives them a new future by offering them for holidays. And here, in this idylic setting, amongst the soaring Redwoods of Leighton's Pinetum*, would be the perfect place for a short break. The cottage looked very cosy - I could imagine sitting in front of the fire on a winter's evening all warm and snug, or sitting on the front step on a summers day listening to the wind in the trees, the mew of a buzzard and not much else. If we didn't live only a mile away I think we'd be booking in.
*Like many of his fellow Victorians John Naylor was a great collector and as well as poultry and water fowl he established an extensive collection of conifers. (Leighton Pinetum is now owned by the Royal Forestry Society.) He may well have had a menagerie too.....