Friday, September 25, 2009

History


Patshull Hall is a substantial Georgian stately home situated in South Staffordshire England; it is by repute the largest listed building in the county.

The Hall was built by Francis Smith of Warwick from designs by baroque architect James Gibbs for his client Sir John Astley in about 1730.

Astley [a royalist] commissioned the house as a symbol of his families’ return to power after the reinstatement of the monarchy. The Astley’s were well known for gambling and cock fighting and it is said that Patshull was lost and won back again in an evening of sport. Indeed the gateway pillars adjoining the family chapel to the south once featured stone cockerels above gilded coronets.

Piano-nobile / split-level in section the main fa├žade is of three storeys with seven bays, three of which are pedimented, and tower wings which are later Victorian additions attributed to the architect McVicar-Anderson. By contrast the west wing, of monolithic proportions, has four storeys.

The house was originally set in a deer-park of some 340 acres (1.4 km2) which was later reworked by the famous landscape architect Capability Brown incorporating a large serpentine lake.

The estate was acquired in 1765 by Sir George Pigot on his return from India

Sir George Pigot was lord mayor of Bridgnorth and in turn Governor of Madras. Having made his fortune as a Nabob in the colonies he was the owner of the famous Pigot diamond; its is said he purchased the Patshull Hall Estate for a sum for 100 thousand guineas in 1765 and immediately engaged Lancelot [capability ] Brown to landscape the park for him.

Sir Robert Pigot (George’s heir) sold the property in 1848 to William Legge the 5th earl of Dartmouth, whose son and heir Viscount Lewisham took residence. Substantial extensions and improvements were carried out for him by architects William Burn and McVicar-Anderson in the 1880s.

During the 20th century the house served as a wartime Hospital in the 1940s and then until the 1980s as an orthopedic hospital. In 1990 the estate was broken up and many acres were sold for the creation of a golf course,( A classical temple created by Capability Brown was converted to become the clubhouse).

During the 1990s the house fell into disrepair and was briefly used as a school; sadly the house had suffered extensive decay and had deteriorated so badly that it appeared on the English Heritage list of Buildings at Risk.

Patshull Hall was bought in 1997 by Neil Avery, a renovation specialist and entrepreneur as a restoration project and the house was subsequently removed from the Buildings at Risk register.

The renovated Hall is now owned by Mr. Tim Reynolds a member of the Georgian society who has decorated and furnished the house with painstaking authenticity and opens the house as a venue for weddings, events, conferences etc.

Link www.apleyhall.com

2 comments:

  1. In 1958 the 7th earl of Dartmouth passed away and most of the patshull estate was taken in lieu of death duties to the crown. The hall gardens and 230 acres of land were retained by the family until the death of lord Dartmouth’s widow in 1963; the hall at this time was already being used partly as a hospital and rehabilitation centre as it had been during the war and by 1966 the precursors to the NHS were in occupation by lease busily defiling the building by the erecting of studded partitions to create wards and happily chopping through Gibbs’s cornices panels and bolection moulding alike ripping out ornamental features and replacing them with fluorescent light tubes and fire protection equipment with the type of consideration for the building that one might give to a civic abattoir.

    The hospital specialised in physiotherapy for leg injuries and many sports enthusiasts and motorcyclists found themselves in wards at Patshull. One of the main therapies involved cycling along the leafy lanes around Pattingham in small groups perhaps emulating the Von-Trapp family in the film the sound of music some of the tougher hairy outlaw type bikers preferring to wear their “colours” and “fringed leather jackets” rather than pyjama and dressing gown. during the 70,s matron apparently ran a tight regime and patients were not allowed out in the evening however some were often spotted in the Pigot arms Pattingham merrily drinking with their legs in plaster. This was possible by courtesy of a ladder left in front of the western flanking wall which had apparently been conveniently left Colditz style for their return to ward in the middle of the night ; however how they managed to climb the ladder with their injuries remains a mystery. In 1988 the NHS surrendered their lease as the upkeep was unbearable and the house was not for the final time looking for a new owner.

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  2. I was one of the aforementioned motorcyclist inmates of Patshull Hall having spent a year as a patient. The day I left it turned into a day centre and shortly afterwards closed. All the 'tales' told above are true! I remeber my time there fondly. If anyone is interested I do have photographs taken the last week that it was a residential hospital.

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