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16th April

A Brief History Of Hoar Cross Hall

Hoar Cross was part of Needwood Forest, the 11th-century lands of Henry de Ferrers.  The land was passed down to Henry’s son and subsequent various people over the course of 500 years ending with the Webb family, around the 1730s, who bought the land and house known as the Manor of the Cross.  This was quite a large house built on a hill near Yoxall (which is the village next to Hoar Cross).  In 1740 the manor house was demolished and later the Hon. Charles Talbot bought the estate for £17,000.  Eventually, it was sold to Hugo Meynell, who already owned huge amounts of property all over the county.

The Meynell family claim to be descendants of the Norman baron, Hugo de Grand Mesnil, who came over with William the Conqueror.  He is said to have died in Leicester in 1093 and his descendants settled in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.  Sir Hugo de Mesnil of Langley Mesnil represented his county under Edward III in five parliaments and thus started a long line of descent for the Mesnil family, eventually changing the name to Meynell in the 1600s.

In 1782 Hugo married Elizabeth Ingram Shepheard, daughter and co-heiress of Charles Ingram, 9thViscount Irwin and Lord Ingram.  Temple Newsam in Yorkshire was their family seat and through the marriage, the Meynell family inherited the Ingram estates in Lincolnshire.  When the Hall was built in 1871 it was actually modelled on a wing of the Temple Newsam house, which is why they look so similar.   In 1793, after buying the Hoar Cross estate from the Talbots, Hugo built a house which he used as an occasional hunting lodge.  He called it Old Hall and this was built around a small courtyard about half a mile away from where Hoar Cross Hall would later be built. Hugo and Elizabeth had six children and eventually, their grandson, also called Hugo, married the Hon. Emily Charlotte in 1863 and together they built the present Hoar Cross Hall to be their family home.

The Hall took nearly 10 years to build and was completed in 1871, although Hugo and Emily had already moved in before that.  The house was south facing and built-in extensive grounds covering many aces.   Various cottages were also built on the estate for the workers to live in along with kitchen gardens and a stable block.

But tragedy was to strike; Hugo had had a horse riding accident some fourteen months previously which had left him bed-ridden.  However, they moved into the house but he sadly died in May of 1871.  As they had no children, the Meynell line (of Hoar Cross) became extinct.  Emily inherited the Temple Newsam estate along with many other estates around the Midlands and became a very wealthy woman – they say she was a millionairess twice over!
Although she was now on her own, she had a lot of support from her family and her brother Frederick moved in with her.  Emily turned Old Hall into a boys home called ‘The Home of the Good Shepherd’ and this eventually became a mixed children’s home run by a Mr and Mrs Glass in the seventies.  It is now a nursing home.

Upon Emily’s death in 1904 Frederick changed his name from Wood to Meynell, thus keeping the name in the family.

The last Meynell couple to live at the Hall married in 1936 and raised a family of five children; they left in 1952 to move to a smaller property in a nearby village.  The house was then rented to a local consultant and his wife who stayed for nearly 10 years.  After they left in the sixties a monastic community took on the Hall intending to turn it into a Christian Community Centre but were unable to raise the required funds and had to leave in 1969.  In 1970 William and Gwynyth Bickerton-Jones bought the Hall and settled there for nearly 20 years, opening the house to the public and running Mediaeval Banquets.

It was then sold to the present owners, Mr and Mrs Joynes, who have made it the Spa Hotel that you see today.

If you’d like to know more about what it was like living at the Hall, the daughter of the Bickerton-Jones family, who lived there during the seventies, has a blog published about her family life there, taken from her own diaries which she kept for many years.  Please follow the link to read more about it: My Dad Bought A Mansion!
 
Thank you to the Bickerton-Jones family for writing this article for us and for providing the photos.

A Message from our CEO

The health and wellbeing of our guests, members and employees is and always has been, at the heart of our business. As a result of the Prime Minister’s announcement on 20th March, it with deep sadness that we have taken the decision to close Eden Hall and Hoar Cross Hall until further notice. Though we genuinely hope to be welcoming you back sooner, rather than later we will closely monitor government updates to ensure we are keeping our team members, customers and members safe.

In these unprecedented times, we have been genuinely touched by the understanding and support shown by our guests, members and staff alike. We thank you for your words and acts of kindness that have given much needed hope and positivity throughout these difficult weeks. Our main priority has always been our loyal customers, especially since temporarily closing the doors of our beautiful venues, putting your experience with us on hold.

If you have an existing booking with us, please don’t worry, we’ll be in touch to help as soon as possible.
If you have one of our gift cards with an expiry date before 30th June 2020, you do not need to do anything, we have automatically extended these until 31st December 2020.

We are also focusing on the wellbeing of our valuable team members, who are currently unable to work due to recent government restrictions. Our employees are a key focus for us at this time, as we hope you understand. Consequently, we are doing all we can to ensure a swift return and to reassure and stabilise their situation in the meantime.

For those of you who may still need to contact us, we have put in place a small dedicated team to respond to all enquiries. Please bear with us if our response isn’t as speedy as normal, we really are trying our best and will contact you as soon as we are able to.

But for now, on behalf of all of us at Barons Eden, I would like to wish you and your family the best health and to stay safe.

André Elshout

Read our full statement here