The house in 2000
The house from a 1905 postcard
Earlier Houses: There was an earlier Georgian house on the site; elements of this house were incorporated into the current 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, Apley Hall Restoration Trust 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. The house itself divided into five grand mansion houses, completed and sold in 2006-07: Apley Hall House (which incorporates the main entrance; it sold for £1.5 million), the Library House, the Georgian House, the 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. Apley is generally considered the inspiration for the fictional Blandings Castle, created by P.G. Wodehouse (see "Images" section), 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.
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 77, 1853.
John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: 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
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)
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade II*
Park Listed: Not Listed
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: 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