Other Cool Things

The Miraculous Resurrection of Barlaston Hall

In the late 1980s I became aware of Barlaston Hall, Staffordshire, England, and attributed to Sir Robert Taylor.

A group called SAVE was fighting desperately to stop the house from being demolished. This was not an easy fight as most people thought the house was more ruin than habitable structure. Considering the condition of the house, this was not an entirely unreasonable attitude.

The exterior of the Grade 1 house did not look too bad, but the interior was a moldering, partially collapsed, decaying scene of utter devastation. (England has a commendable rating system for structures. Grade I is rare and is reserved for buildings of exceptional interest.)

SAVE was at long last able to purchase the house for a token one pound. They then put a roof on the house, restored the exterior, and windows. Thus, the house now had a pristine exterior, but still with an interior of utter devastation. They listed the house for 300,000 pounds.

James and Carol Hall saw the ad, thought the price a steal for a Grade 1-listed house, and went to take a peek. They were of course aware that something had to be amiss, and so were not entirely surprised by the condition of the interior. James thought Carol was “barking mad” to still want the house, but as she later stated: “It had a roof, it had windows and we could just about afford it. Luckily, because it’s Grade 1-listed, we knew that we’d get some support from English Heritage.”

And so the Hall’s purchased the house. The couple lived on the ground floor while the upper floors underwent a five-year-long restoration.

In the mid-1990s, I was going through my collection of old SAVE publications and thought: Whatever happened to Barlaston Hall? The last thing I knew, SAVE was still trying to keep the house from being demolished. I assumed it now had been demolished. I could not find anything out, so made an expensive call to SAVE in England. And could not have more startled by the response: “Oh, the Hall was purchased by a couple, and has been restored.”

My heart soared. My blood pulsed. My joy was great.

But I could find NOTHING about the restoration. This was quite vexing!

So the years passed.

Then, last week, I accidentally discovered that Barlastion Hall was for sale! And there were images!!!!!!!!

 

THE BEFORE TOUR

 

The main facade, 1980s.
The main facade, 1980s. Note the remarkable hexagon-shaped window sashes.

 

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The 1980s.

 

ynetry
The 1980s.

 

Dining Room, 1980s.
Dining Room, 1980s.

 

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Library, 1980s. OK, yikes.

 

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The main stair, 1980s.

 

The upper stair landing, 1980s.
The upper stair landing, 1980s.

 

 

THE AFTER TOUR

So, I spent thirty years staring at the above images. Thirty years!

Thus, imagine my great thrill at seeing:

 

Whoee!
Whoee!

 

The main facade, 1980s.
Again, the BEFORE.

 

Whoee!
Whoee!

 

BEFORE.
BEFORE.

 

The hall.
Whoee! Reception hall

 

Dining Room.
Whoee! Dining Room. The fireplace is to the left.

 

Dining Room, 1980s.
BEFORE dining room. Note fireplace location.

 

Whoee! Library.
Whoee! Library.

 

Whoee! Library.
Whoee! Library. The fireplace is to the extreme right.

 

BEFORE library.
BEFORE library. Note fireplace location.

 

Whoee! Main stair.
Whoee! Main stair.

 

Whoee! Stairhall.
Whoee! Stairhall.

 

BEFORE stairhall.
BEFORE stairhall.

 

Whoee! The upper stair landing.
Whoee! The upper stair landing.

 

The upper stair landing, 1980s.
BEFORE upper stair landing.

 

Whoee!
Whoee!

 

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There is quite the view, too. Wow.

 

SUMMATION

The resurrection of Barlaston Hall proves, once again, that no structure is beyond salvation. Too often, historic structures across the globe in MUCH better shape than Barlaston hall are deemed “unrestorable” and demolished.

My soul is pained by such thoughtless and shortsighted destruction of our architectural and cultural heritage. In my own lifetime I can think of hundreds of incredible structures which have been lost. Ironically, had most of these structures survived just a few decades longer, each would be cherished today.

 

NOTES

What SAVE went through to save Barlaston Hall is an epic story in itself. A nice summary is told here.

James and Carol Hall, their children now grown, have put Barlaston Hall on the market. It can be yours for 2.3 million pounds (or about $3.6 million US).

The BEFORE images are by SAVE.

The AFTER images, and floor plans, are by Knight Frank.

 

FLOOR PLANS!

 

Ground floor.
Ground floor.

 

Main level.
Main level.

 

Third level.
Third level.

 

Top level.
Top level.

 

Roof level.
Roof level.

 

wtg2
Outbuildings.

 

The where.
The where.

 

7 Responses to The Miraculous Resurrection of Barlaston Hall

  1. These were brave souls to take this on! Although, just a novice, it looks to me like they did a pretty authentic restoration too. This is truly amazing – thanks for sharing.

    • When one restores a Grade 1 house in the UK, there is a LOT of control/oversight by English Heritage and other watchdogs! In short, one is forced into doing good work!

  2. One of my absolute favorite homes in Georgia is in Oakman, pretty much the middle of nowhere, called Rockdale Plantation. It goes back to 1832, which is ancient for that part of Georgia. It was restored, pretty much rebuilt and you wouldn’t even believe the transformation. link to before/after. After seeing those pics, you can never tell me something is too far gone. Even if you have to rebuild using salvaged or new materials, you can bring something back. Thanks for sharing Ross, I had never heard of this one before, it is stunning what they accomplished!

  3. WOW! Or as you would say, “Whoee!” Both of those restorations are AMAZING. Honestly, I LOVE these old houses, but it takes a special passion to do what you (and others) do. My Mid-century house is in good shape, but I still feel the pressure of all there is to repair and keep up with. I’m sure it would seem like nothing to you and the others. At any rate, I really appreciate restorative passionate people, or is there a specific name for the genre? G:-)

    • Grace, anybody who loves their home, and maintains it, be it Barlaston Hall, or a Mid-Century Modern treasure, is a hero to me!

  4. I was born in Barlaston. My sister and I referred to Barlaston Hall as “The Broken House”. At that time in the 1960s t was still possible to go right up to the house and I have a photo of us playing in the fountains and another of the local school holding May Day celebrations with a Maypole on the circle in front of the house. We moved away in 1972 but each time we visited relatives I insisted we check to see if the house was still there.

    I was so pleased when I heard that SAVE had bought the house and through the years I visited to see how the restoration was going.

    When I heard that the house was going to be a family home again I was so pleased. I remember the first time I saw it in it’s finished state. Driving up the hill to see windows with curtains was such a treat.

    Mr and Mrs Hall had certainly made a beautiful house into a beautiful home.

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