A look now at one of our small villages, Wimboldsley between Middlewich and Leighton Hospital, its ancient name was Wimbersley, and the Earl of Bigot was the owner.

He passed it onto the Barons of Shipbrook, and Baron Shipbrook passed it on to Matthew de Vernon who assumed the name Wimboldsley.

It was later held by Richard del Holt whose family retained it for several generations.

Eventually, it came into the possession of Robert Lownes, who was responsible for building Lea Hall, now a Grade II listed building.

Winsford Guardian: Lea HallLea Hall

By 1758 Sir J.F Leicester was the owner and in 1765 Lea Hall, described as being ‘near Middlewich’ was the Country Seat of the celebrated Dr John Fothergill.

He bought it to relax away from London, situated as it was in a broad expanse of the Cheshire plain and far removed from smelly 18th century London.

He had been born in Yorkshire but had family in Warrington and was educated partly in Frodsham.

Dr Fothergill was a physician in London; he was described as a man of science a philanthropist and Quaker.

Before and after the American War of Independence, he enjoyed a special relationship with the provinces.

Among his extensive list of friends could be found the medical and botanical luminaries of the period.

Winsford Guardian: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) on engraving from 1873. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Engraved by unknown artist and published in ''Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women with Biographies'',USA,1873..Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) on engraving from 1873. One of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Engraved by unknown artist and published in ''Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women with Biographies'',USA,1873..

One of whom was Dr Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and like Fothergill, an abolitionist. He is quoted as saying about Fothergill, “I can hardly conceive that a better man has ever existed”.

One of his interests was botany, and he sponsored Sydney Parkinson the South Sea voyager and the American botanist William Bartram, who also travelled the oceans between 1773 and 1776.

He paid for and had printed the Quaker Bible compiled by Anthony Purver, and he founded Ackworth school in Pontefract, Yorkshire.

Fothergill was a Quaker, a religion that abhorred slavery in all its forms, and he was a leader in the abolition of slavery.

He aimed to see slaves freed and he agreed to pay £10,000 towards setting up a colony of freed slaves in Africa to grow sugar cane.

His philanthropy included work to improve prisons and aided the prison reformer John Howard in this endeavour.

He took a particular interest in the abolition of the punishment whereby prisoners were sent to the colonies.

Dr Fothergill was a very well known celebrity in the late 1700s, he had a hectic life and discovered the ideal place to get away from it all. Having bought Lea Hall, he spent much time upgrading and residing there.

Lea Hall is still there and now converted to three flats near the West Coast main railway line and the Shropshire Union Canal (Middlewich branch).

Winsford Guardian: Minshull Vernon StationMinshull Vernon Station

Minshull Vernon railway station was situated just a short distance from Lea Hall and opposite the Verdin Arms pub. It was opened in 1837 and closed in 1942, and now nothing is left of it.