Discover the history of Eden Hall.
Eden Hall, originally known as Middleton House was built by a firm of London contractors for Robert Middleton, Esq. and was completed in 1875. It was estimated that the total cost of the enterprise was in the region of £30,000.
As a young man, Robert Middleton was a student under the Rev. Henry Leonard Adams, Minister of the Newark Congregational Church, Lombard Street, from 1834 to 1850. The house was named Middleton House and Chapel, for although Robert Middleton had separated from the Newark Baptists in around 1872, he included a chapel with a baptistry in the building. The local newspaper described the building as ‘novel on an extensive scale’ and ‘an object of great interest to the entire district’.
The chapel occupied almost the whole of the central portion of the building and was entered from the courtyard at the rear of the house. A large pulpit was just inside the entrance, and opposite this was a self-acting organ with gilt pipes, which played up to 30 sacred tunes. There are two galleries. Over 200 people could be accommodated on the ground floor and in the galleries. For baptisms there was an iron tank sunk into the floor. This tank was reached by iron steps.
Steeped in history
The furniture throughout was of superior quality. Some of the inlaid tables were originally from suites of the late Emperor Napoleon III, who died in Kent in 1873. One of the rooms contained collections of china, which originated in Dresden, Serves and Worcester. At the south end of the house was a large conservatory, which attracted considerable attention. It was 30 foot high and 40 foot square, with a fountain in the centre. A choice selection of tropical plants thrived in it.
Across the courtyard were found the stables, coach houses, outhouses and a lofty clock tower. The clock had four dials, each 5 foot in diameter, which could be illuminated at night. The hour was struck on a bell weighing 100 cwt, and Westminster chimes rang out every quarter hour on smaller bells. Also in the clock tower was a carillon, which played a different tune for each day of the week, with the tune repeated every three hours.
World War II
The conservatory, which once housed beautiful tropical plants at the south west end of Middleton House, was destroyed during World War II, on the night of 8th December, 1942. The bomb load of a Lancaster bomber was accidentally released during the start of an operational mission. The explosion also damaged windows in East Stoke Church and there were reports of pots being shaken from shelves of houses in the locality. Several casualties were reported among the R.A.F personnel.