Lyme Park was the home of the Legh family for almost 600 years.
The Leghs first came into the estate when Sir Piers Legh married the daughter of the then owner in 1388.
The house seen today dates from around 1560 when Sir Piers Legh VII replaced the medieval hall house with a Tudor mansion.
Without ever being demolished this Elizabethan house has been completely transformed inside and out. In 1720 Sir Peter Legh commissioned the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni, an exponent of the classical Palladian style, to remodel the south front.
Leoni's towering Ionic portico surmounted with representations of Neptune, Venus and Pan is considered to be one of the boldest achievements of Palladian architecture to survive in England. Six bays separated by pilasters strech away either side of the portico. Leoni also remodelled the inner courtyard and much of the interior of the house.
To the north a remnant of the Elizabethan house survives where a towering Tudor gatehouse leads in to Leoni's courtyard. The box-like tower behind the portico was not the work of Leoni. It was added early in the 19th century when Thomas Legh engaged Lewis Wyatt to carry out further alterations.
The exterior of Lyme Park featured as 'Pemberley' in the BBC's adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice' - the scene where Darcy comes out the lake was filmed here
Inside the house the Long Gallery hung with 17th and 18th century portraits and the Drawing Room with its exceptionally fine Elizabethan woodwork survive from the Tudor mansion.
Leoni's saloon overlooking the park through the columns of the portico has a gilded rococo ceiling and oak panelling decorated with splendid three-dimensional limewood carvings attributed to Grinling Gibbons.
The magnifient entrance hall and grand staircase were also the work of Leoni. In the Stag Parlour the faded, red covers of the Chippendale chairs were made from the cloak Charles I wore on the scaffold.
More recently the house has been enriched with a superb collection of 17th and 18th century bracket and longcase clocks acquired by Sir Francis Legh who was born at Lyme Park in 1919.
In 1946 Lyme Park was given to the National Trust by Richard Legh, 3rd Lord Newton. Lyme is surrounded by 1,400 acres of park.
From the south front of the house there are views across the lake to the medieval deer park where a herds of fallow and red deer still graze.
The deer park is 9 miles in circumference and was already walled in Tudor times. On the ridge above is an Elizabethan hunting tower known as 'Lyme Cage' remodelled by Leoni. Lyme used to be famous for the execeptionally large mastiffs bred on the estate and on Lord Newton's shield of arms two mastiffs act as supporters.
The 19th century garden was laid out by William John Legh, 1st Lord Newton, who inherited the property in 1897. The orangery, designed by Lewis Wyatt, has a formal Victorian facade. On the other side of the house is a sunken Dutch garden. The deep ravine cut by the stream that fills the lake has an informal, semi-wild garden