DiCamillo Companion
England

Apley Park (Apley Hall), Stockton

  • Earlier Houses: An earlier Georgian house was incorporated into the current 1811 house.

    Built / Designed For: Thomas Whitmore

    House & Family History: Apley Park is one of the largest and most expensive country mansions ever built in Britain, and one of Shropshire's most important country houses. The House was built in 1811 by Thomas Whitmore, whose family had held the Estate since 1572 (the family made their fortune as iron founders during the time when Shropshire was the birthplace of industry). The Grinshill stone House sits romantically above the River Severn, its Gothic exterior featuring battlemented parapets and mullioned windows. The interior contains grand staterooms with ornate plaster and fan vaulted ceilings and a central monumental staircase, the fittings of which were brought from the demolished houses of Shobdon Court and Wigmore Hall, both in Herefordshire. In 1867 Apley was sold (for a record amount at the time) to William Ormes Foster; it remained a family home until 1962, when it became Apley Park Boarding School. In 1987 cuts in the Shropshire County Council education budget resulted in the closure of the school and the abandonment of the House, which remained uninhabited for many years, during which time it suffered from vandalism and dry and wet rot. In an attempt to save the House, the Apley Hall Restoration Trust Ltd. was formed by Neil Avery; in 1999 the Trust purchased, from James Hamilton, 4th Baron Hamilton of Dalzell, the House, surrounding buildings, and 25 acres and began restoration, eventually obtaining planning permission to convert Apley into luxury flats. In February 2004 the House went up for auction and was sold to developers Earlstone (owned by Martin Ebelis) under the company name Apley Hall Restoration Ltd. Earlstone developed the Estate into 17 houses, apartments, and mews houses, with the House itself divided into five grand mansion houses, completed and sold in 2006-07, with Apley Hall House being the most expensive, at £1.5 million (incorporating the main entrance), the others being the Library House, Georgian House, Garden House, and the Courtyard House. The surrounding 8,500-acre Apley Park estate is still owned, and has been since 1868, by the Hamilton family's Apley Estate (www.apleyestate.com). Apley is generally considered the inspiration for the fictional Blandings Castle, created by P.G. Wodehouse, who used many Shropshire locales in his books.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Grade II-listed two-story Stableblock has been restored and divided into ten individual homes. The Stableblock is built around a courtyard and is dominated by a large central archway that supports the clock tower. Beside the Stables is the Blacksmith's Cottage, which has also been converted into an individual home. In the 1930s the Orangery was converted to accommodate a swimming pool, believed to be the first private indoor swimming pool in Britain.

  • Architect: William Webb

    Date: 1820
    Designed: Landscaping

    View all houses

    Architect: John Webb

    Date: 1811
    Designed: House

    View all houses
  • J.B. Burke: Vol. II, p. 77, 1853.

    J.P. Neal: 2.S. Vol. III, 1826.

    Country Life: May 25, 1907.

  • Title: Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume II: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
    Author: Reid, Peter
    Year Published: 1980
    Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
    ISBN: 0850110319
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
    Author: Sayer, Michael
    Year Published: 1993
    Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
    ISBN: 0859551970
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat of: Thomas Whitmore. Foster family, 19th century. Goulburn family, 19th century. Russell family, late 19th century. J.S. Edwards-Heathcote, 20th century. James Hamilton, 4th Baron Hamilton of Dalzell, 20th century. Neil Avery, 1999-2004.

    Current Ownership Type: Flat Owners Company / Condo Association

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Flats / Multi Family

  • House Open to Public: No

    Historic Houses Member: No