Review: The Courthouse, Knutsford
In 2010, the Ministry of Justice closed the Sessions House in Knutsford, and moved its judicial proceedings to courts in Crewe.
This left the magnificent 17th Century building empty, until brothers Dominic and Oliver Heywood stepped in to open up the second property in their Flat Cap Hotels portfolio earlier this year.
Flat Cap Hotels was founded in 2015 with the launch of The Vicarage Hotel in Holmes Chapel, and the opening of The Courthouse Hotel in Knutsford this year also marks 65 years since Alan Turing was tried in the former Sessions House.
The brothers’ latest venture is housed within this incredible Grade II listed building, originally designed by renowned architect George Moneypenny and built in 1818.
It still boasts a wealth of original features and the stunning Georgian architecture, with facilities you’ll find today including:
- The Court Room A unique and historic space with a banqueting capacity of 400, split over two levels, perfect for weddings, private dining, meetings, exhibitions and events.
- Barristers Bar and Restaurant A 150 cover restaurant led by executive chef Stephen Tuke, formerly of the Grosvenor in Chester.
- The Rooftop Gardens An elegant cocktail and champagne bar, including a sophisticated dining space, with a capacity for 100 guests capitalising on stunning views across the historic town.
- The Moneypenny Suite A grand reception and drinks area which connects with the Court Room and can comfortably accommodate 150 guests. There are also six private meeting rooms, seating between 10 and 100 guests.
It was the menu from Barristers Bar and Restaurant which we sampled when we visited for Sunday lunch.
Having also attended a wedding fair in The Court Room earlier in the year, we knew already that the venue offered a quirky and fascinating setting.
To start, we shared a hummus board (£6.50) containing varieties: lemon & coriander, red pepper & pine nuts and black sesame.
I thought it was a good selection, slightly pricy for the small serving, but the bread was warm and soft and overall I’m pleased with my selection.
Opting for the roast sirloin (£15.95) and roast chicken (£12.95) for our mains, we were treated to sumptuous plates complete with butter roasted potatoes, celeriac puree, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal veg, glazed Chantenay carrots and wilted greens - drizzled with a rich authentic gravy.
Both meals were incredibly tasty - and the celeriac puree offered something slightly unusual, adding some very welcome new flavours. Of course a Sunday roast is a staple of any good restaurant, and the fact that these didn’t disappoint is a strong credit.
The mains, in my view, were really great value. We finished them feeling very satisfied and thoroughly enjoyed both.
I’m not always keen on dessert, and it’s difficult to include something to please all tastes, so I instead opted for a coffee. This came with popcorn which was a nice touch, and something light to nibble on.
Megan (my partner) opted for the chocolate tart (£6.90), which I have to admit looked very tempting - now I’ve seen it, perhaps one for next time!
The Courthouse offers a quirky setting, and attentive service, and the food is of a high standard. It’s situated in a town which has a vast choice of places to eat out, but I think it manages to fit in well.
The decor may appeal to certain tastes more than others, but it is cleverly thought out - the pictures adorning the walls each portray the image of a high profile person who's been to court, for instance - and it is fascinating to think that your drink at the bar is being served from where those on trial would once have stood to face a judge.
The proprietor supplied the product/service featured in this review without charge. Our correspondent was not paid for carrying out the review. In line with our policy of upfront and honest opinion pieces, any pieces which are paid for are clearly marked as such.