A History of Willersley Castle
The construction of Willersley Castle in began in 1790, commissioned by Sir Richard Arkwright, the great industrialist who developed the Water Frame which revolutionised the cotton milling industry in this country and all around the world. In 1791 a fire broke out causing severe damage to part of the interior of the Castle, a major setback in construction. The damage was repaired, but sadly Arkwright died in 1792 before completion of the building. His son, also named Richard, moved into Willersley Castle with his family in 1796 and the family continued to live there until 1922.
Many of the original features can still be seen today. The most striking of these is the Well Gallery, an oval gallery with a glass dome situated in the centre of the building, with cantilevered galleries on the first and second floors. An Adams archway leads through the building towards the Well Gallery, whilst the Music Room, Drawing Room and Dining Rooms all contain their original Adams fireplaces.
In 1927 a group of Methodist businessmen bought Willersley Castle as a Methodist Guild Holiday Centre, and opened its doors on the 5th May 1928. It became a popular location for young Methodists, with its tennis courts, bowling green, games field and organised excursions in the Peak District proving a real success.
During the Second World War the Castle was used as a Maternity Hospital by the Salvation Army, which had relocated from Clapton in the East End of London. Over four thousand babies were born at Willersley between 1940 and 1946.
Willersley Castle still is a popular hotel. In addition to providing holidays, Willersley also caters for residential conferences, day conferences, coach parties and group meals.