At Apley preservation of our heritage is one of our key focuses and is the forefront of any renovation project that we undertake.  Landscapes and buildings of rich historical value are carefully upheld and protected so they can continue to add value to the local community.

Historical buildings have unique character, reflect changes in our approaches to construction and land management and add to a sense of belonging with memories being kept alive through their bricks and mortar. They also contribute to the unique Shropshire landscape that we admire and love.

 Apley has plans to sympathetically and sustainably restore all of it’s historical buildings and put them into use. The 18th century Parklands across the Estate are a key focal point for restoration, with work guided by Natural England and a team of specialised individuals.  It is of paramount importance to us that we get this right for all of our future generations.

Ewdness House renovations begin!

Ewdness House renovations begin!

Ewdness House has been home to many generations of Lord and Lady Hamilton’s family but became vacant over 10 years ago. Graeme Manton, Estate Director, enlisted the help of local Architect Hannah Beaman to produce a plan for the former Tudor Farmhouse that would bring...

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Apley has been home to seven generations of the same family.  A programme of preservation and archiving of historical records and artworks is currently underway. We hope to share some of this interesting historical information with the community to enrich our understanding of Apley through the centuries. 

A number of our tenant’s have lived on the Estate for decades and have seen many changes in a number of ways.  We are hoping to build a social archive by interviewing and recording their experiences and knowledge that would otherwise be lost.

We have a number of tree planting projects to maintain the historical landscape whilst supporting the local environment.

Estate History

The Apley estate as we know it was created in 1585 when William Whitmore, a haberdasher from London bought land in Stockton Parish from the Lucy family of Charlcote. The Whitmores owned and expanded Apley for the next 300 years.

The Whitmores built the first house at Apley at the end of the 16th Century, which was rebuilt and enlarged in 1811 by Thomas Whitmore to become a mansion in the ‘Strawberry Hill’ Gothic fashion popular at the time. During the latter part of the 18th Century the surrounding parkland was landscaped and planted, turning Apley Park into one of England’s most important and imposing estates.

Queen Victoria & Prince Albert shortlisted Apley Hall as one of their chosen country retreats before finally settling on Sandringham in Norfolk. Furthermore, it also rumoured that Adolf Hitler had earmarked Apley for his residence following a successful invasion of the British Isles.  Apley Hall is widely regarded as the primary inspiration for PG Wodehouse’s Blandings Castle occupied by Lord Emsworth & his prize pig the Empress of Blandings.

Apley was sold by the Whitmores in 1867 for a record sum to William Orme Foster, an ironfounder from Stourbridge whose business Foster and Rastrick had been responsible for designing and building the first steam train run in the USA – the Lion of Stourbridge.

The estate had been allowed to deteriorate during the latter years of the Whitmores’ ownership and the new owners immediately began a programme of improvement and refurbishment. The new farm buildings at Apley Home Farm were highly innovative for the time, built to the standard of railway architecture and including steam driven machinery and a piped water supply to the farm buildings and field troughs. In its heyday the estate employed more than 100 people in the Hall, its formal and kitchen gardens, the estate woods, on the farm and as gamekeepers.

During World War II much of the parkland was given over to food production for the war effort & the Hall became a convalescent home for injured soldiers.  The deer were culled to make way for more productive cattle and pigs and the arable acreage was increased. Stockton Buildings, now the location of Apley Farm Shop, was run as a dairy enterprise with prizewinning Dairy Shorthorn cattle, producing milk, butter and locally known Apley cheese.

The owners of the estate have always farmed part of the estate themselves. As recently as the latter part of the last century, the estate’s own farms employed 12 people producing potatoes, sugar beet and arable crops as well as sheep, pigs, beef and dairy cattle. Change in the farming environment has accelerated over the last 25 years and the estate no longer produces milk and has also ceased keeping sheep and pigs.

The closure of the sugar beet factory at Allscott in 2006 has had a significant impact on the estate farm and led to further changes. The farms currently employ 4 people full time farming over 2000 acres mainly with arable crops and beef cattle. These are usually sold through the local markets and often are amongst the best in sale.

Major A W Foster, died in 1960 and being unmarried was the last of the family to live at Apley Park. It was converted in 1962 into a state run boarding school (one of only two in the country) and remained so until 1987. In the 1990s it was sold to a developer and eventually converted into 19 apartments.

Although modern day farming practices have changed the estate, its heartland remains very much intact under the ownership of Lord [Gavin] Hamilton, 5th baron Hamilton of Dalzell.

At Apley preservation of our heritage is one of our key focuses and is the forefront of any project that we undertake.  Landscapes and buildings with rich historical and heritage value are carefully protected at the same time as ensuring their continued productive use.