THE FIGHT to save Barlaston Hall has been described as the greatest achievement of the heritage movement in England.
The beautiful house, built in the English Palladian style in the mid 1700s, was on the verge of demolition by the final years of the 20th century, before a conservation group stepped in and bought the place for just £1.
The price tag came with a number of conditions, however – the chief one being the requirement to restore the house within five years. The sellers, the Wedgwood pottery company, had made two applications for demolition in the 1990s, before SAVE Britain’s Heritage stepped in with the offer to buy the building.
Wedgwood agreed. The Grade I listed building was in a perilous state. Water had leaked through the roof, floorboards had been removed, most of the staircase had collapsed and ceilings and plasterwork had fallen through to the basement.
But worse that all that was the fact that there was a serious threat of subsidence, due to coal workings.
The National Coal Board had originally agreed to fund the subsidence issue, but infamously reneged on the deal. SAVE applied for a judicial review, and won the day. The NCB agreed to pay the full amount tackle the subsidence and subsequent preventative work.
The hall was built in 1756 by the notable architect Sir Robert Taylor for local lawyer Thomas Mills. Built of red brick, it features many of Taylor’s trademarks including octagonal glazing within the sash windows. The hall remained in the Mills family until Rosamund Mills, who was the co-heiress married Ralph Adderley in 1816.
Their son, Ralph Thomas Adderley was High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1866 and died in 1931. By then the estate covered some 380 acres. It was put up for sale in 1937 and was bought by Wedgwood. The company turned it into a training college until the geological problems came to light.
It was allowed to fall into decay, suffered vandalism and had the lead stolen from its roof - and would almost certainly have been bulldozed but for the efforts of conservationists who fought a long battle to rescue the house.
Grants from English Heritage, the Historic Buildings Council, the Manifold Trust and a loan from the National Heritage Memorial Fund allowed the works to be completed in the 1990s.
SAVE decided to sell the hall in 1992, leaving the internal restoration to its new owners, James and Carol Hall, who spent five years completing the job, which included new internal walls, ceilings, plasterwork and staircases. Most of the work was carried out by craftsmen.
Barlaston Hall is now a desirable family residence.
One approaches Barlaston Hall from the nearby village through a wrought-iron gateway to a gravelled drive that sweeps to the front door. Steps lead up to the central doorway, which has pilastered and pedimented surrounds, and opens to a beautiful Doric hall with a high ceiling and attractive denticulate cornicing.
The core of the house is the stairwell hall from which the principal reception rooms radiate. The library and dining room are of equal size with symmetrical bay windows. The library is south facing with views over the garden and features beautiful built-in mahogany fronted book shelves. The dining room is north facing and includes an array of meticulously restored Rococo plasterwork.
The saloon is a bright room with a bow window looking out over surrounding parkland and across the Trent valley. All four reception rooms include large fireplaces.
The house is designed for family use, and includes a large laundry/boot room, store room and wine cellar.
There is also a self- contained flat with a double bedroom, bathroom, hall/ study area and a living room with a kitchen off.