Discover the hidden past of Hoar Cross Hall and the secrets that lie within its beautiful architecture and charming grounds.
The picturesque village of Hoar Cross, originally named Horecross, was created upon the Needwood Forest, owned by Henry de Ferrers in the late 11th Century. The villages rural charm remains the same to this day, nestled directly between the towns of Stafford, Lichfield, Uttoxeter and Burton upon Trent. After the land was passed down through family lines and purchased by many individuals, the Hall’s original foundations were erected in the 15th Century, during the reign of Henry VI, featuring a moat, drawbridge, porter’s lodge, summer house and chapel. In 1740 the manor house was sadly demolished due to decay and neglect, but brought back to life in 1793 when Hugo Meynell, ‘The Father of Fox-Hunting’, purchased the estate with his wife Elizabeth Ingram Shepheard, and built a hunting lodge in its place known as ‘The Old Hall’.
When Hugo’s grandson, Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram, acquired the estate after his father's death, he set out an ambitious 10 year reconstruction of the Hall, to celebrate his marriage to Emily Charlotte Wood. Completed in 1871 and designed by renowned architect Henry Clutton, who redeveloped Covent Garden, the spectacular Hall was built in an Elizabethan style with Jacobean undertones, complementing Hugo’s other property, Temple Newsam near Leeds. The symmetrical exterior of the property had many striking features, including 48 chimneys, lofty gables, mullioned windows, two turret water towers with ogee caps and two large weather vanes in the shape of ‘M’ and ‘I’, saluting to the Meynell Ingram family.
The drive and grounds
The approach to Hoar Cross Hall offered a dramatic unveiling, entering through a castellated archway with lodge and gatehouse, that gradually revealed the magnificent building, with an extended drive lined with lime trees. The screen of trees opposite the main entrance were planted to protect the north side of the Hall from the wind, with the terraces and gardens on the south side planted using Sir Francis Bacon’s ‘Essay on Gardens’. There was around 28 groundskeepers during the Meynell’s reign, responsible for not only keeping the gardens looking beautiful all year round, but also growing fruit, vegetables and herbs for the kitchen. In the greenhouses and palmhouses adjacent to the Hall, flowers and potted plants were also grown, to decorate the principal rooms and events were important guests resided.
The Long Gallery
The breathtaking 114 foot Long Gallery was created for family members to walk, converse, listen to music and play games in, and was a common feature of Tudor country houses. Boasting ornamental plasterwork on the ceilings, rich decoration, oak panelling and two Sienna marble fireplaces, the Long Gallery was at the heart of the Grand Hall.
The Garden Hall and Chapel
At the east end of the Long Gallery was the Garden Hall, which eventually reached the Chapel, a later addition to the property in 1897. With linenfold panelling, a carved ceiling, gilded altarpiece and stained glass windows, the Chapel was used for morning services, which all 75 staff were expected to attend, except the cook who was making breakfast.
The Library was the first room to have parquet floors, which were then extended throughout the principal rooms. Lined with mahogany bookshelves and an elegant marble fireplace, the views from the Library were some of the best around, with family members being able to see the spires of Lichfield Cathedral.
The Drawing Room
The Drawing Room, now known as The Ballroom, was always one of the most highly regarded rooms of the Hall. Featuring William Morris wallpaper, which can still be seen today, a ‘wedding cake’ ceiling and two marble mantelpieces underneath portraits of Hugo and Emily Meynell, The Drawing Room was as grand then as it is today.
The Dining Room
Adjacent to The Drawing Room is The Dining Room, which was restricted to only the Meynell family and their prestigious invited guests. An extendable regency dining table was the centrepiece of the room, with magnificent historical tapestries hanging on the walls.
The servants quarters could be found in the basement and second floor of the Hall, featuring servant bells connected to the ground floor. The living quarters of the family could also be found on the first floor, with every room named by the village or town the window faced. Interestingly, a ‘Burton Room’ was never created, due the family believing the town did not have any worthy attributes.
The last of the Meynell's
Sadly, Hugo died in the May of 1871, due to complications from a horse riding accident, only a few short months after the build was complete. As Hugo and Emily had no children, Emily inherited Hoar Cross Hall, along with Hugo’s other estates. Fredrick, Emily’s brother, moved in to help manage Hoar Cross Hall, which throughout this time became a boys home, mixed children’s home and nursing home. The last Meynell couple to live at Hoar Cross Hall was in 1952, moving to a smaller house in a nearby village after being seriously injured during the war and many servants leaving.
Residents of the Hall
Hoar Cross Hall was rented out post 1952 to a local consultant and his wife for 10 years, followed by a monastic community creating a Christian Community Centre. Eventually, after the monastic community left due to struggling to raise the required funds, William and Gwynyth Bickerton-Jones purchased the Hall in 1970, and settled there for the next 20 years.Under the reign of the Bickerton-Jones family, the Hall opened to the public after many much-needed renovations, offering Afternoon Tea, banqueting nights and large scale events. This made the Hall not only a family home, but a successful business which earned it’s own keep.
Mr Steve Joynes
In 1989, Hoar Cross Hall was purchased by Walsall-born Mr Steve Joynes, who had huge plans for the stately home. Looking to double the size of the original building to create a luxury health spa resort, Mr Joynes invested £8 million pounds into the project, adding a further 70 bedrooms and state-of-the-art leisure facilities. Offering the Hall a secure future and jobs for the local community with it’s opening in 1991, Mr Joynes gave Hoar Cross Hall a new lease of life with his background in the business of hotels.
The present day
Barons Eden, the luxury Hotel and Spa collection formed by Mr Steve Joynes, now own Hoar Cross Hall. Made up of six like-minded partners who share a passion for entertaining, socialising, great food and standout experiences, the close knit team set out to create truly memorable stays, treating every guest like a friend of the family. Recently investing £14 million pounds in renovations across the spa and hotel, Hoar Cross Hall is now one of the largest spas in Europe, bringing guests back time and time again. Barons Eden also own the historical property Eden Hall in Nottinghamshire, an award-winning Day Spa offering first-class facilities, luxury treatments and most importantly, total relaxation.