James Hall

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A painting of Nantwich historian James Hall greets visitors as they enter the museum. It hangs in the main gallery.

The portrait was painted by James Hall’s son, Walter J. Hall, in 1943 – that was 29 years after his father’s death – and given to the town. It was originally hung in Nantwich Free Library (the building that is now the home of Nantwich Museum) but when the county library service moved to its present building, next to the Civic Hall, the portrait went with them.

Trying to trace the portrait, Nantwich historian John Lake mentioned the painting to a member of the library staff – who recalled that it was under a flight of stairs in the building.

There it was rediscovered, with a broken frame and in a dirty condition.

Thanks to Mr Lake, it has now been restored with grants from Cheshire County Council and the North West Museums Service and returned to Nantwich Museum where it has been given a permanent home.

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The portrait includes pictures of Lincoln Cathedral and Nantwich Parish Church.

The author of “Hall’s History of Nantwich” was born in Lincoln on February 20, 1846, but moved to Nantwich at the age of 20. In 1875 he became the first headmaster of Willaston School, which is two miles from Nantwich. He retired to Chester where he died on October 6, 1914.

A plaque (right) in the porch of St Mary’s Parish Church, commemorating the centenary of James Hall’s birth, was instigated by local historian, Percy Corry, when he was Church Librarian. He arranged the collection which found the money to erect the plaque.