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The Stairwell Skylight at Acklam Hall.
The History of Acklam Hall
By Director of Estates, Martin Peagam
On 1 August 2002 Middlesbrough College and Teesside Tertiary College, merged to consolidate the merger in 1995 of two further education colleges (Longlands College and Kirby College) and two sixth form colleges (Acklam and Marton).
Through these mergers Middlesbrough College acquired ownership of the only Grade I listed building in the Tees Valley, Acklam Hall.
Acklam Hall had been a sixth form college since 1974 and had been a school since 1935. However it has a much longer history: the house itself dates back to 1683 and the land on which it is built is mentioned in Domesday records.
The Hall even has a resident ghost!
History of Acklam Hall
Domesday Book records that the King held a manor at Acklam (probably from Old English meaning a “place of oaks”).
In 1277, the King’s Treasurer made an inquiry concerning the duties of knights to supply men-at-arms for the King. The inquiry reported that William de Boynton had land at Acklam. A similar inquiry in 1303 reported that Acklam was held by Ingelram de Boynton. The manor of Acklam came to the Boyntons through the marriage of Sir Ingleram de Boynton to a daughter of the house of Acclun (or Acclam) in the time of Henry I.
In 1612, Francis Boynton rented Acklam Grange to William Hustler, a wealthy draper from Bridlington.
In 1637, Francis’ son Matthew Boynton, sold Acklam Grange to William Hustler.
The grandson of William Hustler I was knighted in 1678. This Sir William Hustler built the Hall in 1683 in the contemporary fashionable style, showing some Dutch influence in the gables (now gone).
The Hall continued in the Hustler family, but there were changes of name. For example, at the end of the 18th century, there was no direct male heir of the Hustler family; the two elder sons had died. The third child, Anne, married Thomas Peirse, and the house was owned by an eccentric sister, Everald. She settled the Hall and estate on her nephew, Thomas, on condition that he change his name to Thomas Hustler. He married Constance Boynton, a descendant of the previous owners of the estate. In the 19th century when there was no direct male heir, the estate passed to a nephew, Hustler Hopkins, who changed his name to Hustler Hustler on inheriting the estate.
The Hall and grounds of over 40 acres, including the tree-lined avenue and land almost to Ladgate Lane, were purchased by Middlesbrough Corporation in 1928 from the last owner, Mostyn Hustler. The auctioneer’s list suggests that no bids were received, and the sum offered by the Corporation was £11,500.
Acklam Hall and campus buildings.
Acklam Hall School opened in 1935.
In 1958 the remaining ornamental gardens were removed and the extensions built for Acklam Hall Grammar School, consisting of Hall, woodwork and art rooms and classrooms.
In 1968 Acklam Hall Grammar School merged with Kirby Girls’ Grammar School to form Acklam High School.
In the same year, the main school block was built for Acklam High School and in 1969-71 the last flower beds were removed for the 6th form block (now ‘C’ block). In 1974 Acklam High School split to form Kings Manor 11-16 School and Acklam 6th Form College. Accommodation in the Manor House was shared.
Following the destruction of the Main School block by fire, King’s Manor moved across Hall Drive to the site shared with Hall Garth School. The block was finally demolished in 1997.
In 1995, Acklam 6th Form College merged with Kirby College to form Middlesbrough College and Acklam Hall passed into the ownership of Middlesbrough College.
Features of the House
Acklam Hall has many fine architectural features that make it well worth a visit and it is a popular destination during the annual Heritage Week and other days when it is opened to the public.
Saloon Hall (now The Board Room) – entrance hall with ornate plaster ceiling added in 1912.
Dining Room (now the Staff Room) – an extension added in 1912 by Walter Brierley of York; part of the extensive reconstruction to make the Hall more suitable for an Edwardian family and household. Plaster ceiling of the same period and by the same craftsmen. The exterior is an echo of the Orangery at Kensington Palace.
Smoking Room (now the Exams Office) – coloured marble hearth and mantel, probably of Frosterley marble; plaster ceiling with a device of acorns.
Boudoir (now the Registry Office) – panelled walls, carved wood mantel, moulded plaster ceiling of the period 1683, painted ceiling panel in a primitive style.
Staircase – constructed from painted pine, with a bold frieze; ball-capped newel posts and an unusual double spiral baluster. Pevsner (“Buildings of England”) admired this staircase as an example of fine English woodwork.
Throughout, the doors are original and so too are some of the door fitments.
Drawing Room (now the Conference Room and Art Gallery) – originally 3 separate rooms; in the alterations of 1912, two rooms were joined. At the west end there was a third room, known in the inventory as the “King’s Room” – no connection with any Royal visit, it was simply a custom in country houses. This third room was joined to the other two in the alterations after 1928. The two drawing rooms have fine plaster ceilings and painted panels, a Royal coat of arms and the bearings of the Hustler family. The ceiling was probably made by craftsmen moving south in 1683 after working on the plaster ceilings of Holyrood House. Carved wood mantel with Hustler arms and motto, ‘Aut numquam tentes aut perfice’, which was adopted by the school with permission from Mostyn Hustler.
Mr Hustler’s Bedroom (now Room A20) – with wooden panelling and primitive painting above mantel.
Queen’s Room (now Room A22) – with marble mantel and primitive painting.
Other rooms on the first floor consisted of bedrooms and bathrooms.
The second floor was added in the reconstruction in 1912. The carved plaster ceiling above the stairwell was lifted and the rooms built around it. The rooms on the second floor consisted of servants’ bedrooms and domestic offices, and four visitors’ bedrooms and bathroom.
In 1935 Acklam Hall Secondary School consisted of the following accommodation:
The north wing was demolished and in its place were built: gymnasium, changing room and showers, chemistry and physics labs, metalwork and woodwork rooms.
There are no known (that is, reputable) stories concerned with the “Grey Lady” in spite of some wild claims to have seen ‘something’.
In 1967 there was a caretaker who said that his dog would never go upstairs after experiencing something in the library and, “as you know, dogs are very sensitive about such things”.
A boy in ragged Victorian clothes was seen in the cellar by a workman in 1997. The boy walked into a side-room of the cellar. Of course, when the workman looked in after him, there was no-one there and no other exit.
The Hall has been a popular venue for ‘ghost-hunters’ in recent years and has featured in a number of films.
Sources of Information about Acklam Hall
Matthews, A.D. (1997) Acklam Hall. A House and its History
Pevsner, N (1966) Yorkshire, The North Riding . Buildings of England series (Penguin)
Ryder, P (2004) Acklam Hall, Middlesbrough: An Architectural and Historical Survey
VCH (1923) The Victoria County History of the County of York North Riding Vol.II 221-223 (reprinted by Dawsons of Pall Mall 1968)
Wakefield Historical Publications (1979) Samuel Buck’s Yorkshire Sketchbook
Weaver, L (1914) Acklam Hall, Yorkshire. The Seat of Mr W.H.Hustler. Country Life March 7th 1914, 342-349
Lordship of Acklam Plan. Probably around 1680, commissioned by William Hustler, repainted (and dated) after a new survey 1716. Now in Dorman Museum
last updated: 29/11/07