Hagley Hall June 2011
|Address||Hall Drive, Hagley, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY9 9LG|
|Town or city||Hagley, Worcestershire|
|Client||George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton|
|Design and construction|
Hagley Hall is an 18th-century house in Hagley, Worcestershire. It was the creation of George, 1st Lord Lyttelton (1709–1773), secretary to Frederick, Prince of Wales, poet and man of letters and briefly Chancellor of the Exchequer. Before the death of his father (Sir Thomas Lyttelton) in 1751, he began to landscape the grounds in the new Picturesque style, and between 1754 and 1760 it was he who was responsible for the building of the Neo-Palladian house that survives to this day.
After a fire in 1925, most of the house was restored, but the uppermost floor of the servants' quarters was not, which means that the present roof line between the towers is lower than it was when first constructed.
Prior to the construction of the current Palladian mansion by the 1st Lord Lyttelton, the earlier house on the site was described as "convenient and built mostly of wood".
The fashion for Neo-Palladian houses had started in London between 1715 and 1720. It spread out to the provinces and did not reach Worcestershire until 1750s. The two finest examples of this style in Worcestershire were Croome Court built between 1751 and 1752 and Hagley Hall designed by Sanderson Miller (with the assistance of the London architect John Sanderson) between 1754 and 1760. Notable Neo-Palladian features incorporated into Hagley Hall include the plain exterior and the corner towers with pyramidal roofs (a feature first used by Inigo Jones in the design of Wilton House in Wiltshire), and of Venetian windows. The house contains a fine example of Roccoco plasterwork by Francesco Vassali and a unique collection of 18th-century Chippendale furniture and family portraits, including works by Van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds, Cornelius Johnson, and Peter Lely. A catalogue of the collection was published in 1900.
On Christmas Eve 1925, a disastrous fire swept through the house destroying much of the Library and many of the pictures. Despite boiling lead pouring from the roof through the house, all those within managed to escape. At the height of the blaze when nothing more could be salvaged from inside, the 9th Viscount was heard to mutter "my life's work [is] destroyed". He and his wife painstakingly restored the house, except for the staff quarters on the top floor.
As of 2012[update], the hall is the family home to Christopher Charles Lyttelton, 12th Viscount Cobham and his wife Tessa.
The house is set in 350 acres (1.4 km2) of landscaped deer park grazed by fallow deer of several colours. Wychbury Hill, although part of the Estate, is kept open to public. There has been a park at Hagley since the reign of Edward III of England in the 14th century. The present landscape was created from about 1739 to 1764, with follies designed by Lord Camelford, Thomas Pitt of Encombe, James "Athenian" Stuart, and Sanderson Miller. Hagley and Croome Court have more follies and other similar features than any estate in the England.
The follies at Hagley include Wychbury Obelisk on Wychbury Hill, built in 1764 for Sir Richard Lyttelton. This is visible for many miles. The Temple of Theseus built from 1759 to c. 1762 at a cost of £300 was a gift from Admiral Smith, Lyttelton's half-brother. Other small buildings include some small classical buildings; a sham ruined castle and the "The Four Stones", or Ossian's Tomb as it was termed, on the summit of Clent Hill. Horace Walpole, notoriously hard to please, wrote after a visit in 1753, "I wore out my eyes with gazing, my feet with climbing, and my tongue and vocabulary with commending".
In April 1786 John Adams (the future second President of the United States on tour with Thomas Jefferson—who would serve as his vice president before becoming President himself) visited Hagley and other notable house in the area, after visiting them he wrote in his diary "Stowe, Hagley, and Blenheim, are superb; Woburn, Caversham, and the Leasowes are beautiful. Wotton is both great and elegant, though neglected". In his diary he was damning about the means used to finance the estates, but he was particularly enamoured with Hagley, although he did not think that such embellishments would suit the more rugged American countryside.
50 years before the construction of the Palladian mansion and just after the Gunpowder plot was discovered, two of the miscreants, Robert Wintour and Stephen Littleton, escaped arrest at Holbeche House and travelled south to ask Humphrey Littleton for his assistance. At the time Muriel Littleton, the widow of John Lyttelton who had died in prison, lived at Hagley Park. However Humphrey had the use of the house.
They were captured at Hagley Park on the 9 January 1606 because the authorities had been informed of their presence by Littleton's cook - John Fynwood. He had been alarmed by the quantity of food that was being consumed by Littleton and had seen Robert and Stephen. Despite Littleton's protests that he was not harbouring anyone, a search was made and another servant, David Bate, showed where the two plotters were escaping from a courtyard into the countryside. The two had been on the run for two months and they had Littleton to thank for evading the law for that long.
A 19th-century account of the house and park and the Lyttelton Family ghost story is available.
- Anonymous 1913, pp. 130-136.
- Brooks & Pevsner 2007, p. 56.
- A Catalogue of the Pictures at Hagley Hall. Chiswick Press. 1900.
- English Heritage staff 2012, The Castle.
- Brooks & Pevsner 2007, p. 59.
- English Heritage staff, Obelisk.
- HHFS society 2011.
- Pagett 1994.
- Deeley 1975, p. 1.
- Adams & Adams 1851, p. 394.
- Burbury 1998.
- ghost story.
- Locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall
- Adams, John; Adams, Charles Francis (1851). The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: Autobiography, continued. Diary. Essays and controversial papers of the Revolution. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States 3. Little, Brown,. p. 394.
- Anonymous (1913). "Parishes: Hagley". A History of the County of Worcester 3. pp. 130–136. Retrieved 9 July 2008.
- Brooks, Alan; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2007). Worcestershire: The buildings of England. Pevsner Architectural Guides (illustrated, revised ed.). Yale University Press. p. 56. ISBN 9780300112986.
- Burbury, Douglas (1998) . "Robert Wintour". Britannia Internet Magazine. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
- Deeley, Hilda (May 1975). "Hagley Park: Extract from a letter from Horace Walpole (who visited Hagley in 1753) to Mr. Bentley". Hagley Historical Society Newsletter (Hagley Historical and Field Society) (3): 1.
- English Heritage staff. "2/133 Obelisk about ¾ mile north of Hagley Hall 23.4.52 1 (Formerly listed with item 2/134)". English Heritage. Retrieved June 2012.
- English Heritage staff (2012). "The Castle About 3/4 Mile East of Hagley Hall". English Heritage. Retrieved June 2012.
- HHFS society (May 2011). "Local History: Follies of Hagley Park". Hagley Historical and Field Society.
- Pagett, Tom (1994). "Follies and other features of Hagley Park". Hagley Historical and Field Society.
- "West Midlands: Bromsgrove: Temple of Theseus, Hagley Hall, Hagley". Heritage at risk 2011. p. 72.
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