Vale Royal Abbey dates back to the late 13th century but it’s no longer a place used by a religious order. Instead, it came into the possession of the Cholmondeley family in the early 1600s and remained the family seat until it was purchased by ICI shortly after World War II.
The chemical company used the abbey as staff accommodation then as the headquarters for its Alkali Division before vacating the premises in 1961. The abbey was then used at various times as a health centre, a country club and a school before becoming a private golf club with associated housing in the late 1990s.
Simon Gidman – perhaps better known for his new designs at Burhill, Centurion and Frilford Heath – laid out the course across gently rolling countryside, and holes were configured as two returning nines that stretch to 6,465 yards from the back tees.
Highlights include the par four 4th (played to a water-fronted green), the par three 6th (the only short hole on the front nine), back-to back short par fours at the 13th and 14th, and the right doglegged 18th which narrows considerably on approaching the home green.