Impeccable provenance of an historic seat
Echoes of past owners add fascination to this most elegant Regency house, reports Marsya Lennox
The next owners of Eyton Hall in Shropshire should take a walk through the private woodland as winter ends.
If they time it right, they will be there for the magnificent annual display of snowdrops.
And if they know their flora, they might be able to distinguish some special varieties carpeting the ground beneath the specimen trees.
The story is that a 19th century occupant, Thomas Campbell (T.C.) Eyton, gathered various exotic plants while on his world travels, among them some of the spectacular snowdrops.
The pleasure grounds and woodland walks were laid out when such things were all the rage with landed Victorians, eager to distinguish their gardens and their reputations with living examples of their scholarly endeavours.
In fact, T.C. Eyton was a notable collector and keen naturalist, well connected and a friend of Charles Darwin.
Much of their correspondence has survived and Eyton’s work is mentioned in Darwin’s.
Apparently, however, the two Shropshire gentlemen did not see totally eye to eye.
Eyton is said to have been displeased when Darwin used some of his observations in support of his own theories.
Birds and their anatomy were his speciality and he built his own museum at Eyton.
Specimens came from all over the world, carefully catalogued, all in Latin. And these were often gathered for him, sent by post – deceased examples, of course.
In one letter to Darwin he warns to beware of insects in the packaging, so as to ensure that the specimens are not eaten en voyage.
The keen scientist also completed a scholarly work on oysters, their history and production, apparently funded by the government.
It is just one interesting chapter in the long history of Eyton occupation of Eyton Hall.
In 1,000 years, this principal house at Eyton-upon-the-Weald-Moors has been home to only four families, three of them since the last Eyton left in 1962.
The Norman conqueror first awarded the lands to a Pantoff who married an Eyton. There were the usual political upsets around the Civil War, much of the estate being forfeited by one Sir Thomas who was fined £967.
Descendants married well, however, bringing in more money and property so, by the Regency period, there was plenty of cash for the wonderful house that stands today.
There were other interesting Eytons, of course.
T.C. Eyton’s cousin, the Rev Robert William Eyton was a respected historian and wrote Antiquities of Shropshire among other works.
And, coincidentally, there’s another relative, well known today in property circles, Tony Morris-Eyton who is marketing Eyton Hall for the West Midlands office of Savills.
He can just remember the time when his second cousin “Archie” lived at Eyton Hall in the mid 20th century.
And he is well placed to know how the property has progressed in more recent years, having also handled its sale eight years ago when it was taken on by the current owners.
The word is that there was much to be done back in 1962.
Around that time, there were big changes including the demolition of T.C.Eyton’s old museum building.
But it is safe to say that the current millennium has brought nothing but good to the old Eyton seat.
“It is now immaculate – a superbly elegant house,” said Tony this week.
The long, low symmetrical stuccoed house of the early 19th century replaced the much earlier Eyton seat.
It has lovely colonnaded detail, a central pediment with the family coat of arms and some wonderful living spaces, around 7,425 sq ft of main house not counting the cellars. High points include the totally stunning reception hall with its unusual fan vaulted ceiling, exquisitely ornamented. Intriguingly, it could be compared to other ceilings by the eminent architect John Nash, who is known to have worked on a number of great houses across the area.
There is a drawing room with an Italian marble fireplace and big window bay to the front, more than 36 ft by 20ft in all.
The layout would suit most modern families thanks to the excellent space allocated to today’s kitchen, a showpiece by Christians of Nantwich, more than 28ft long with French doors to the colonnaded terrace and clever storage in fitting, classical style.
There are also more intimate spaces like the library and sitting room. There is even a choice of places to dine: the formal 23ft long room to the front of the house or the large garden room – a big bright space with windows to three sides.
Domestic areas include the secondary kitchen and an ironing room, working bits of the house nicely distant from the grand, main kitchen.
There is a choice of staircases too, one up to the flexible space of the east wing.
The west wing is taken up by a lavish main suite with bedroom, dressing room and oversized bathroom with central tub. There are another six bedrooms including a suite and two additional bathrooms.
One treat for the new owner who does not require absolutely everything on a plate will be the additional buildings with potential.
There is a former lodge cottage in one corner of the woodland, just a derelict shell but with permission for restoration to a perfect little one bedroom house.
Also, there is a former coach house, abandoned some time ago. There is useful consent in place here to create a substantial four bedroom house, if wanted.
The south facing terrace has views across the lawns, shrubberies and woodland, over the ha ha to the parkland beyond.
Special trees in the woodland include four notable Wellingtonia, beech, oak and maple. There are 27 acres in all also including a walled garden, paddocks and lake plus outbuildings and stabling.
Eyton-upon-the-Weald-Moors is 20 miles from Shrewsbury, 44 from Birmingham and six from Telford. There are good trains to London from Stafford.
The local choice of schools is very good in this part of the Midlands to include the famous Shrewsbury schools, the Newport grammars and closer by, Thomas Telford and Wrekin College in nearby Wellington.
The guide price for Eyton Hall is £2.35 million. Details from Savills, 01952 239500.