Ranton Abbey


Location   Ranton
Year demolished   1942  
Reason   Burnt down whilst requisitioned during WWII, now a shell  
No images are currently available

Text written by, and copyright of, Nicholas Kingsley - many thanks

Ranton Abbey in Staffordshire was the site of an Augustinian abbey, founded in about 1150 and dissolved in 1536. Only the 14th century tower and part of the south wall remain, although the cloisters and other parts are known to have still been standing in 1663. A new house of which little is known was built after that date, and William Baker was acting as surveyor of works for Sir Jonathan Cope (c.1692-1765), 1st bt., presumably for alterations, in 1748-49 and 1752-53.

The house descended in the Cope family to Sir Jonathan Cope (c.1758-1821), 4th bt., who sold it in about 1819 to Thomas William Anson (1795-1854), 2nd Viscount Anson and later 1st Earl of Lichfield, whose principal seat was at Shugborough nearby. The present three-storey eleven bay red brick house with a projecting three-bay pedimented centre and rather curious end elevations with a pedimental gable the full width of the facade, was built in 1820 as a base for large shooting parties. It remained in the Anson family but was let later in the Victorian period, and was gutted by fire in 1941 while occupied by the bodyguard of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Substantial ruins of the house survive today, including the external walls to full height.

The estate was sold to the Wedgwood porcelain company in the 1950s but bought back by the 5th Earl in 1987 with a view to restoring the house or building a replacement as a seat for his descendants. Realisation of these plans was delayed for many years due to objections from English Heritage. Permission was finally granted in December 2005, about a month after Lord Lichfield died, and the estate was sold in 2008 and again in July 2011 (for around £3.5 million), but no works have yet taken place beyond the removal of ivy from the ruins. The permission granted was for the building of a new Palladian-style house close to the ruins, and involving the demolition of most of the 1820 building, but it would seem far more logical, and probably no more expensive, to stabilise and restore the existing building.

A further image and more information is available from Staffs Past Track: Ranton Abbey