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Middleton Hall, Tamworth

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published September 14th 2015
Explore Centuries Of History And See Conservation At Work
As historic buildings go, Middleton Hall in Staffordshire is something of a unique mixed collection.

This site, near Tamworth, is regarded as the only place in Britain where visitors can see buildings dating from the Tudor period right through to late Victorian times.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth
The main entrance to historic Middleton Hall

There has been a residence on the Middleton Hall site for almost 1,000 years, although the Hall has changed over the years with buildings being added as well as demolished.

But the buildings we know today owe their salvation to a team of volunteers from the Middleton Hall Trust, who have lovingly and painstakingly restored the Hall and its surrounds over the last 35 years after English Heritage granted them special dispensation to carry out the work.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth
The moated Middleton Hall

Sadly, moated Middleton Hall and its grounds had been allowed to fall into serious decay during the last century.

The building had stood abandoned for some 20 years by the time a group of ramblers came across its crumbling shell in the late 1970s.

Now almost completely restored, the Grade II listed building is once again a welcome attraction for visitors.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, 13th century
The upper great hall of the 13th century Stone Building

Although mentioned in the 11th century Domesday Book, the oldest structure on the site is the Stone Building, constructed for Philip de Marmion of Tamworth Castle in 1285.

Restored between 2006 and 2010, the Stone Building is a house of Norman design with an undercroft for storage and a great hall on the upper floor.

Visitors can also explore the Jettied Building, so named because the first floor juts out over the ground floor, which was built in the early 1500s and restored by the Trust between 2000 and 2003.

Tamworth, Middleton Hall, Queen Elizabeth I
The Jettied Building where Queen Elizabeth I's entourage probably stayed

Shortly afterwards, the Hall hosted its most famous visitor when Queen Elizabeth I came to stay for a week in 1575, during which she knighted the Hall's owner Sir Francis Willoughby in the Great Hall.

The Willoughby family owned the property for 500 years with one of Sir Francis's daughters, Margaret, later marrying Robert Spencer - making Francis the 10 times great grandfather of Lady Diana Spencer who wed HRH Prince Charles.

Another major attraction is the John Ray Building, constructed in 1647 and restored to the way it was in 1710.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, John Ray
The room where naturalist John Ray lived in the 17th century

Ray, who lived at Middleton Hall from 1666 to 1676, went on to become the first great English naturalist under the patronage of the Willoughby family, publishing the first ever scientific book on birds.

There is also a restored Georgian west wing looking out over the grounds which is now available for weddings, private parties and conferences.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, Georgian
The Georgian west wing during Tamworth Heritage Open Day

Once running into many thousands of acres, the estate is now just 42 acres in size but includes a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering the area around Middleton Pool. Visitors can stroll around the nature trail or enjoy the orchard or walled gardens, built in 1717.

Back inside Middleton Hall there is another top attraction in the form of The Peel Collection and Police Museum, run by the Peel Society.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, Peel Museum
The Police Museum in tribute to Sir Robert Peel

The Society was founded in 1979 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force, founded by Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, who lived at nearby Drayton Manor, home to the Peel family from 1790 to 1925.

The unique collection of Peel memorabilia also focuses on Sir Robert's two other great reforms - the Catholic Emancipation Act 1829 and the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 - while the Police Museum houses a collection of police memorabilia including a display of old truncheons, uniforms and even a police rattle used before the invention of the police whistle in the 1870s.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, Napoleonic re-enactment
A Napoleonic era re-enactment group during a Heritage Open Day

I visited Middleton Hall as part of the Tamworth Heritage Open Day on September 13, during which there were displays by a Napoleonic era re-enactment group.

But there are a number of special events held regularly throughout the year including Middleton Motors Monthly, Back to Nature, Discover 700 years of History, and Food & Craft Markets.

Middleton Hall, Tamworth, Great Hall
The Great Hall within the Georgian west wing

As the Hall depends on a volunteer workforce, opening times are restricted to Wednesdays from 10am 4pm, Bank Holiday Mondays 11am 4pm, and on Sundays for the special events listed above.

However, The Courtyard Centre consisting of craft and antique shops and a coffee shop is open all year round.

For further information please call 01827 283095 or visit www.middleton-hall.co.uk/
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Why? Several Centuries Of Contrasting History In One Spot
When: All year but check for opening dates and times
Phone: 01827 283095
Where: Middleton Hall, Middleton, Tamworth, Staffordshire B78 2AE
Cost: 4 adults, children free
Your Comment
What a gorgeous historic building. I am glad they were able to restore it.
by voyag (score: 1|34) 1183 days ago
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