The gems of the lost Shropshire country house and the splendid survivors

Lost – Tong Castle.

Many years of research have paid off for Gareth Williams with his massive 750 page tome “The Country Houses of Shropshire”.

And it’s a subject he’s had a lot of close experience with, being a curator and learning officer at the Weston Park Foundation. Indeed, his next project is a book on Weston Park, historically the ancestral seat of the Earls of Bradford on the Shropshire-Staffordshire border.

For generations these grand houses have been the abodes of some of Shropshire’s foremost families, and still are in some cases, but sadly changing times have also seen many architectural and historical treasures lost.

The Country Houses of Shropshire by Gareth Williams.

“Although pressures remain, the Shropshire country house has experienced, as elsewhere, if not a complete rebirth, then a sort of respite aided by a better, if not totally sympathetic, understanding of what a house is. campaign and its economic and cultural contribution, ”Gareth says.

So we asked him to pick from the five worst casualties in the county and pick his five favorite survivors.

Lost – Adderley Hall.

Gareth says: “An important Victorian house of George Devey, the grounds of which still cause the road from Market Drayton to Audlem to make a wide diversion around the site of the house.

“His loss, like so many lost homes, raises many questions – including whether an astonishing French-style garden, depicted in a painting now in the Virginia Museum of Art, in the United States, was really filled with sculpture. classic. “

Lost – Badger Hall.

“An old Georgian house that was given a series of suave neoclassical interiors by architect James Wyatt for the owner of the Old Park Ironworks in Shropshire, Isaac Hawkins Brown. Badger, at the end of the 19th century, contained the one of the most remarkable collections of Renaissance Art collected by the Cheney brothers.

“If it had survived intact it would have been one of Britain’s most important treasures.”

Destiny: Demolished 1952-53.

Lost – Cloverley Hall.

“Designed by William Eden Nesfield, the perfect and confident 1860s country house of the highest quality, with stone carvings by James Forsyth, stained glass by Heaton, Butler & Bayne and decorative paintings by Albert Moore.

“Cloverley’s design, which appeared in CL Eastlake’s History of the Gothic Revival (1872) made him extremely influential, with buildings in America inspired by its form and detail.”

Destiny: Main block demolished in 1926.

Lost – Park Hall, Oswestry.

“Lost in a fire in 1918, but a truly stunning late 16th century half-timbered house that has retained a series of original interiors, with woodwork and plasterwork and a very good oak staircase.

“The loss of the house at the turn of the 20th century meant that it was largely forgotten.”

Destiny: Accidentally set on fire while occupied by the army on Boxing Day 1918.

“Probably the most visited Capability Brown park in Britain, as the M54 motorway rumbles straight on the site of the house!

Tong Castle was a true medieval castle, reimagined as a Tudor mansion, and then in the 1760s remodeled and domed roofed by Capability Brown, while interiors dripped with rococo plaster of the highest quality.”

Destiny: lay in ruins for decades, then purposely exploded on July 18, 1954.

“Like a Jewel” – Longner Hall near Shrewsbury.

“A jewel-like Tudor Gothic house of the Prince Regent’s favorite architect, John Nash, which has retained its original interiors and is situated above the River Severn in a beautiful park designed by Humphry Repton.”

Millichope Park – “a tour de force”.

“A tour de force of Greek Revival architecture by Shrewsbury’s own architect Edward Haycock the Elder, which perfectly showcases the use of Grinshill stone, and is set in one of the most landscaped gardens. picturesque still under development by its current owners. “

“Outstanding” Mawley Hall near Cleobury Mortimer.

“The most exceptional Georgian baroque house from the start; the perfect dollhouse on the outside, but with one of the most beautiful interiors in the world – a magical demonstration of excellence in plaster, woodcarving and marquetry, which is used to show heraldry and Catholic faith of the Blount family who built it. “

“Illustrious Ancestor” – Loton Park.

“An attractive Janus-type house with a cheerful Tudor style south facade and a serious Georgian Baroque north facade, which upholds the illustrious ancestry of the Leighton family who are still the guardians of this great Shropshire house.”

Whitton Hall – “The Perfect Gable Mansion.” Photo: Richard Law.

“The perfect gabled mansion, with magnificent Georgian facades and interiors, fully preserved and set in a lovely garden with a plump round dovecote and a Jersey herd that enlivens the surrounding meadows.”

‘The Country Houses of Shropshire’ is published by The Boydell Press and signed copies at a reduced price of £ 85 (RRP £ 95) are available from Millard & Lancaster, 18 St Mary’s Street, Shrewsbury.

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