Wolseley Hall


Location   Colwich
Year demolished   1950s / 1966  
Reason   Abandoned, fire and then later demolition  
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The Wolseley family had had a seat in Colwich since Norman times and Wolseley Hall formed the centrepiece of this ancient estate.

The estate was granted to the Wolseley's as a reward for killing all the wolves which were ruining the King's hunting by preying on the deer in the County. The family originally lived in an 11th-century medieval, moated, manor house which Sir Ralph Wolseley was given a licence to crenallate in 1469 and was sited to the south of the later hall. Sir Robert Wolseley fought on the side of the King in the Civil War and had his estate confiscated as a result. The manor house was probably serious damaged or abandoned during this period and fell into ruin. Nothing remains of this house bar a flat-topped rise in a pasture.

Sir Robert never saw the Restoration of the monarchy as he died of a fever in 1649 aged 59. His body was brought back and buried in Colwich Church and subsequently an impressive monument was installed. On the Restoration the Wolseleys regained their former lands and set about building a family seat. Abandoning the site of the old manor house, the new house was built a short distance away, slightly further up the hill.

Though with Stuart origins, the house also acquired Georgian additions including Gothick interiors by Wyatt. The house was mostly two storeys apart from the third above the porte cochere entrance and built largely with stuccoed brick and, in places, ashlar. The staircase is thought to be the work of the master craftsman, Grinling Gibbons.

This was a house that was always going to feel the pressures of the spread of the nearby urban areas. In the mid-1800s a railway line cut through the middle of the estate (see map below) separating the house from its park and was probably visible from the house. Though the house was featured in Country Life in 1910 the pollution and other pressures of the rapidly expanding nearby towns meant that life wouldn't have been so tranquil. The house then suffered a serious fire in the 1950s and was pulled down in 1966. Some fittings were salvaged and sold off.

The A51 between Rugeley and Stafford now rushes past the lodge and entrance to the road to the house. The estate remained derelict until the 1980s when Sir Charles Wolseley began a restoration of the landscape gardens. In 1990, and now run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, the Victorian stables were converted into a visitors centre and the remains of the gardens are now a wildlife and nature reserve.