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24 September 2014

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Pitchford Hall (Picture:of English Heritage)
Pitchford Hall (English Heritage)

A nice little place in the country

Despite its stunning exterior, you could be forgiven for being oblivious to Pitchford Hall's existence. But it isn't just the magnificent Tudor hall that attracts the attention of historians.

the estate also features a grade II listed orangery, Roman remains and even a 300 year-old tree house!

And to top it all the hall even played its part in history - in the Civil War Prince Rupert - King Charles I's nephew, no less - and his bodyguard were forced to hide here to escape marauding Roundheads.

The hall is situated in the very small village of Pitchford (a parish of just over 100 residents), about 6 miles south/south east of Shrewsbury.

Pitchford is named after a natural pitch well, about 250 yards north east of the hall. The ancient source of bitumen lies near a ford on the Row Brook.

It's difficult to age the village or the well, but it appears in the Domesday Book as 'Piceford'. The well may have been used as long ago as Roman times and the Roman city of Viriconium lies just down the road.

Pool on the Pitchford estate
Pool on the Pitchford estate

The Roman road Watling Street actually runs through the estate. The route is adopted by the A49 further south.

Records show that a manor house lay on the current site from 1284.

The current Hall probably contains some elements of construction dating back to the 14th century, while he nearby church of St. Michael and All Angels dates back to the 13th century, but there may have been a temple on the site in roman times.

Pitchford Hall was built in 1560-70 by William Ottley, the Sheriff of Shropshire. However, the Hall probably has a 14th or 15th century core within the current structure.

Originally, the hall was set in around 14 hectares of park and woodland. Attached to the hall is an orangery, which is also registered 'at risk' (Grade II listing).

The treehouse (perched in a large lime tree) at Pitchford Hall was built in the 17th century in the same style as the hall itself.

It may be the oldest oldest treehouse in the world, and even boasts an oak floor and gothic windows!

The estate also contains some good examples of Roman and Victorian baths.

Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council recently suggested designating Pitchford as a conservation Area, but the idea wasn't popular with locals.

Unlike other similar properties, the hall has always remained in private hands - in fact it remained in the same family for many generations.

However, in 1992, the then owners - financially hit by their responsibilities as Lloyds names - were forced to sell off the hall and for the first time in its history, the estate was split up.

Pitchford Hall and estate are now separately owned.

Pitchford Hall
Pitchford Hall

The condition of the hall is classified by English Heritage as 'fair'.

Extensive work was done on the hall in the 19th century. Despite now lying vacant, ongoing work has improved the condition of the roof in particular. Additional work is required to some timber in the East wing and around window frames.

Pitchford has also attracted a fair number of celebrities. In 1832, a few years before her coronation, the young Queen Victoria visited the hall with her mother. In her diary, the princess describes the hall as a large "cottage"!

Meanwhile, in 1935, the hall also received the Duke of York and his wife - later to become George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).

It is claimed that Prince Rupert sought refuge in the hall's priest hole after the siege of Shrewsbury, while some of his troops hid in the subterranean tunnel on the estate.

Pitchford Hall is also reputed to be home to a number of ghosts, including an unknown cavalier and the late owner, Robin Grant.

last updated: 14/04/05
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