The Cage at Lyme Park was originally built around 1580 as a hunting lodge where the ladies of the British nobility could admire the prowess of their menfolk as they hunted stag on the slopes below.
If all went well then the tower would become a banqueting hall and feasting and drinking would carry on well into the night.
It overlooks the nearby moors and 1,300 acres of park land. The earliest evidence of human use of the hill was the discovery of a Neolithic axe dating back to around 2500 BC. The nearby ‘bow stones’ are believed to be the remains of ancient Saxon crosses.
A POACHERS PRISON
As time went by, the tower was used by the game keeper as his residence and a room in the tower was strengthened and used for locking up poachers that had been caught trying to steal the hare and deer that were both common in the park and said to be of exceptional quality and flavour.
THE TOWER OF LONDON CONNECTION
The original tower survived until 1734 when the existing structure was largely dismantle by George Platt and then rebuilt as it is today in 1737 by Peter Platt on behalf of Peter Legh XII.
Many visitors to Lyme Park have noticed that the tower looks quite similar to the central keep of the Tower of London – The white Tower. This may well be intentional as of Peter Legh XII was twice imprisoned in the Tower of London on charges of treason. He was acquitted on both counts and shortly after this period he is believed to have hired the renowned Italian architect Giacomo Leoni to remodel both the main house and the The Cage. The name ‘The Cage’ is something of a mystery but may well have been an ironic reference to the Tower of London which was Legh’s prison or it may be a reference to the towers earlier use as a poacher’s prison.
Three of the four sides of The Cage have sundials – the north facing side is the exception as it would never receive enough light for it to be effective. All the sundials have inscriptions. The south face reads: “Remember now the creator in the days of thy youth”. The east and west faces are written in Latin and both read: “Live to-day. To-morrow will be less seasonable.”(Vive hodie. Cras minus aptus erit.) The reason that Legh chose these inscriptions remains a mystery.
During World War II, and shortly before the Park was handed over to the care of the National Trust, it was used to house young evacuees from Manchester. By all accounts they were made welcome by Thomas Legh, 2nd Baron Newton, who at the ripe old age of 82 was said to be delighted to have company and spent many an evening telling them all stories in front of a roaring log fire with a couple of dogs at his feet and a brandy in his hand. The tower was also used by the Home Guard and much visited by the youngsters even though they probably weren’t meant to go near it.
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF
The Cage was featured as a cake in the TV series the Great British Bake Off. Created by master baker, Louis Troyano, it was acclaimed as a masterpiece of architectural baking. Sadly, Troyano didn’t win the competition but did make it to the finals to take second place.
The tower was recently featured as a film location in the 2011 supernatural thriller – The Awakening. Shortly after the end of WWI a young woman, Florence Cathcart, visits the park in its guise as a boarding school in attempt to disprove the existence of a ghost. Unfortunately for Florence she has to radically change her ideas when the spirit world makes its presence felt. The film stars Dominic West and Rebecca Hall.
Lyme Park and The Cage were taken over by the National Trust heritage association in 1947. The tower is now a Grade II listed building and has recently been restored.
MOST MYSTERIOUS – HAUNTED BY THE WHITE LADY
By 1903 the building had fallen into a fair state of disrepair and was home to Joseph Morten, the park Shepard, and his family.
They regularly reported that the ghost of a lady dressed in white would appear to the children, particularly just after bedtime. According to the story the phantom seemed friendly enough but robbed them of their privacy.
To solve this issue the family was relocated to ‘Little Lodge’ and the White Lady of The Cage troubled the Mortens no more.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Kinder Road, Hayfield, High Peak
Derbyshire, England, SK22 2LE
+44 (0)1663 745 394
- Address: Red Lane, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, England, UK, SK12 2NR
- GPS: 53.3573439,-2.041697200000044
- Phone: 0044 (0)1663 762 023
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: SK12 2NR
- Entrance Fees: Charges Apply
- Disabled Access: Poor
- Visibility from Road: None