Ince Blundell Hall Nursing Home: Augustinian Canonesses of the Mercy of Jesus

HISTORY of INCE BLUNDELL HALL NURSING HOME

A remarkable style of architecture and a long history distinguish Ince Blundell Hall. Today, after centuries in the possession of one family, it is now a nursing home run by the Canonesses of St Augustine, Nursing Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus.

The Old Hall The history of the Hall goes back to the arrival of the Blundell family in the thirteenth century. About the year 1367 John Blundell added his surname to Ince in order to distinguish his home from the Ince-in-Makerfield near Wigan and from the other Ince south of Ince Banks to the east of the present day Ellesmere Port.

That change links them to the emergence of the English people after the Norman Conquest, since the family name of Blundell comes from a French nickname meaning

'the blond one'; and the place name of Ince comes from the Welsh ynys, 'a water meadow', an apt description of the low-lying country close to the Mersey.

Continuity and integrity characterise the long residence of the Blundell family. They adhered to the Old Faith and, when the male line ended in 1837, Charles Blundell showed his devotion to the Church by his legacies. Despite the many difficulties heaped on Catholics, their family fortunes prospered so that in the first half of the eighteenth century they decided to replace their old home with a new Hall some five minutes walk away.

 Although the precise date for the building of the present Hall is not known, it is generally agreed that the period of construction started in 1720 and ended in 1740 or 1750. The architect was Henry Sephton, the leading Liverpool mason architect of the second quarter of the eighteenth century. The builder was Robert Blundell who in 1722 married Catherine Stanley of Hooton in the Wirral Peninsula. Like the Blundells these Stanleys had remained loyal to the Old Faith. They were the senior branch of a family with many branches including that of the present Lord Derby. Outside Pantheon

It was Robert and Catherine’s son Henry, who was responsible for starting a very fine Collection of Roman Sculptures, which were displayed in a specially built Garden Temple near the house. Later Thomas Weld Blundell added to this collection. She was a friend of Lord Elgin and like him a great traveller and a collector of antiquities and marbles.

On the front of this temple Henry chose to inscribe a passage from Virgil (Geoigics 2. 149) which reads:


“Hic Ver Assidum, Atque Alienis Mensibus Aestas.”

Here is eternal Spring and Summer in months not its own.

These words were originally addressed to the Fountains of Clitumnus, north of Rome, a fertile oasis regarded in ancient times as a shrine.

The Garden Temple

An old photograph shows the marbles in the Pantheon, a scaled down model of the Pantheon in Rome, which was a later edition to the Hall. This unique collection is now housed in the Liverpool Museum and Walker Art Gallery.

Pantheon

The transition from a Country House to a Nursing Home is summed up in an article by the then Prioress, Sr. Madeline: “The purchase of Ince Blundell Hall was a great act of faith. It is good to see the renewed life of this once ‘stately home’ which represents the glories of a past age and the maintenance of a great Catholic tradition.”

Today, in the opening years of the twenty first century in a world transformed beyond the imagining of the first Blundells, the long history of Ince Blundell Hall has not yet come to an end.

What began over six hundred years ago with a Catholic family is still visibly evident in the Hall completed in 1750. The old occupants may have changed, but the service of God continues unchanged.

“The Story of Ince Blundell Hall” is a booklet that can be purchased from the Hall for a small sum.