Wirral's own soap opera
Sale of late Lord Leverhulme's home and treasures set to rival Mentmore

Thornton Manor, the historic Wirral home of the late Lord Leverhulme, is to be put up for sale and is expected to fetch in the region of £4 million.

London-based FPD Savills and Smith Gore is marketing the Grade II Listed property which, they say, has a number of possible uses, including residential development, hotel and conferencing, or educational and institutional occupancy.

The death of the third and last Lord Leverhulme occurred in July 2000. He was eighty-five and left more than £31 million in his will. He is survived by three daughters.

Thornton Manor, a Victorian Gothic-style house built in the 1840s, will be sold together with cottages, stabling, gardens and more than 125 acres of parkland. The remainder of the Thornton Manor Estate, including most of Thornton Hough village, is to be retained by the Leverhulme family.

The contents of the manor which will run into thousands of lots are to be sold by Sotheby’s at a three-day sale in May.

According to a spokesman, it could be the most significant house contents sale since that of Mentmore, in Buckinghamshire, the former home of the Victorian Prime Minister, Lord Rosbery, which realised £6.3 million in 1977.

The family fortune stems from William Hesketh Lever, the first Viscount Leverhulme and the creator of Sunlight Soap. This was the first commercially packaged soap and it led to Lever building Port Sunlight village to house his workers. It became one of the most famous examples of a garden and industrial village.

A keen student of architecture, Lever employed over thirty architects to build Port Sunlight, amongst them a then little-known young man, Edward Lutyens. The result was a heady mixture of all varieties of architecture, with plenty of open spaces and flowering gardens.

Lever was also passionate about art and antiques and he created the Lady Lever art gallery at Port Sunlight. It is said that Lever bought more art objects in his lifetime than anyone else on earth. Upon his death, the art gallery was given to the nation.

The first Levers’ soap was manufactured in Warrington by William and his brother James. The company moved to Port Sunlight, on Bromborough Pool, in 1888 when William also bought Thornton Manor.

He went on to become the first industrialist to create a mutilnational company and it survives today under the name of Unilever.

William Hesketh Lever died in 1925.