Monday, 10 August 2015

Pitchford Hall

In the last entry, I got underneath the famous Prince Rupert Hotel, achieving something I have wanted to do for years. Prince Rupert stayed there during the civil war, when Shrewsbury was a royalist stronghold, and as we should hopefully all know, the royalists lost. Shrewsbury fell through treachery, with the enemy let in via the water lane, which is why the restaurant at the top is named Traitors Gate. It's also why Shrewsbury has the most intact castle in Shropshire. Prince Rupert allegedly survived, and fled to the southern reaches of Shropshire, to the village of Pitchford, where he took refuge in a subterranean tunnel beneath the grounds of a place now known as Pitchford Hall.

*cue dramatic music*

 Legal disclaimer:
Now I just want to make it clear that I do NOT force entry when I explore these places. Nor do I vandalize, steal, or disclose means of access to other people.
Trespass without forced entry is a civil offence, not a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not commit or condone any acts of breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do either as it's very dangerous and I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model.
And I still don't disclose means of access. Just in case it wasn't clear enough.

Pitchford Hall was built in the 1560s by William Ottley, the Sheriff of Shropshire, although certain parts of its west wing do contain remnants of an older mansion that was built in 1272, and lived in by Geoffrey de Pykeford, who also built a church on the property, which was sold in the 1330s to repay debts.
Following the construction by William Ottley, the house remained in their family until 1807 when it passed on the 3rd Earl of Liverpool, Charles C C Jenkinson, and later to his son-in-law, James Cotes. James son, Charles, commissioned a man named George Devey to have the place brought up to Victorian standards, which included the installation of running water. When Charles died, the house passed on to his brother-in-law, Sir Robert Grant, and then onto the Colthurst family.

Some of the big names to stay at Pitchford Hall have included the most Victorian of all Victorians, Big Vick herself, who, in 1832 when she was just a princess, stayed here and watched the hunt from a treehouse on the grounds. In 1935 the Duke of York at the time, later George VI, stayed there with his wife, and in World War II, Pitchford Hall was one of the places selected for King George, Queen Elizabeth, and the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, to relocate to if things got too hairy.

The house was disused as of 1992, when numerous financial strains forced the owners to sell the entire estate which now has been divided between multiple owners, although the mansion remains empty. Numerous precautions have been taken to keep out trespassers, including Dracula  the ever present Big Brother.

*GASP* Not Big Brother!!! What am I going to do???

In case you haven't guessed, I actually hid from Big Brother inside the building that they're guarding, which seemed logical since all the cameras were pointing outwards. I'm truly addicted, I know. But whats the point in living if it's not to be enjoyed? And besides, isn't everyone glad that Shropshire has its very own miscreant adventurer?

Let's just look at the exterior a little bit. This place really has a lot.

The interior was brilliant, and truly showed its age in its architecture. However this place has changed a lot over the years in accordance to various changes in tastes. But just check this place out. It's amazing!

Not surprisingly, Pitchford Hall has its fair share of ghost stories. Former residents are said to haunt the hallways, occasionally as apparitions but more commonly as the scent of the cigarettes smoked by one in particular. I experienced nothing.

As I made my way around the mansion, I found that a lot of effort had gone into ensuring some doors couldn't be opened. They weren't all locked, although those that were had more than one way of getting to the places that they led to. The strange thing was, all of the furniture barricades were in blocking the way I was going rather than the way I was coming from, so it was child's play to move things out of the way and then put them back when I was done.

I was quite struck by the rooms. They were gigantic, and well designed, and once lived in by people far richer than me.

This fireplace is taller than me, which given that I'm a six feet two inch tower, is quite impressive.

I'd heard rumours of a secret doorway in this building but I'd also noticed this place get mistaken for Brogyntyn Hall a lot online, which had a bookcase door. So I wasn't entirely sure this place would actually have one, but sure enough it did at the back of this cupboard.

How awesome is that???

I think this red room is in the servants quarters, and it seems to be the place where people seemingly working on the place left all their things before going for a break.

And that's quite a break they're having.

Moving upstairs, I found that all the bedrooms were labeled alphabetically. Bedroom B was the first one I found, and it was about the size of my flat with a really impressive fireplace sculpt.

The place got just a little more humbling when I found that Bedroom A was twice the size of Bedroom B.

The newspaper is dated September 7, 1990.

Most of the other upstairs rooms were samey in style, although the colour scheme was as varied as a bag of skittles.

 This room had a central pillar with two fireplaces on either side.

The further I explored, the smaller the rooms became and I decided that these were probably the servants quarters.

 I took this next picture solely for the lone floral tile there. 

In the servant area there was also a kitchen. 

And here's a servant bell board.

The mansion had a lovely spacious attic with some of the most delightfully uneven floors I've ever encountered. It was mostly pitch black up here. It's also where the building truly shows its age.

And look at this amazing photo! Click it to see it big. My camera flash must have startled a bat and it's spreading its wings and taking flight. Now, I was quite unaware of it at the time, and it must have whooshed past me swiftly and silently, and I only realized it was there when I got home and found that I'd captured it on camera.

And here is a bell, which apparently dates back to the 1600s. 

I'm not sure why there's a fireplace in the attic but here it is.

And then of course there is the cellar. I'm not sure if this ever linked to the secret passage beneath the estate where Prince Rupert hid, but it was still cool and cavernous.

The church on the grounds was locked up, although I've been told it's still in use. The underground passage eluded me. There is also a natural well, or "pitch" which Pitchford takes its name from, and I found a number of bodies of water that this could have been. Sadly when out of the actual mansion I had to be sneaky because some of the buildings in the vicinity were in use. But one feature I couldn't resist was the treehouse.

Allegedly this is the oldest treehouse in the world, although I'm sure there are other contenders out there. It was built in the same style as the main mansion, presumably at the same time. And it was from this treehouse that thirteen year old Princess (later Queen) Victoria watched the hunt across the fields. I'd followed in her footsteps but all I was watching was my own back, in case of discovery. The treehouse was locked, but its interior was visible.

And that about sums up Pitchford Hall. I'm sad that the secret tunnel escaped my notice, but overall it was a very fun adventure. Please don't ask me how I got in. I won't tell you.

But I would love to hear any stories, memories or additional information about this place, or any of the places featured on the ever increasingly inaccurately titled "Shrewsbury from where you are not" so feel free to get in touch and follow me on various forms of social media-

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Thanks for reading!


  1. Nice house pics but a shame that you did not mention the BEST feature of the whole estate as you were standing on it at one time! There is a clue in my name :-)

  2. Pitchford Hall is one of my fave properties of all time—went round the gardens as a really young kid (circa mid to late-80s), and a funny coincidence happened in 2007: I’d just moved from Shrewsbury to Sheffield and went to meet my new accountants, and on the wall in the director’s office was a large picture of this house. I said ‘That’s Pitchford Hall!’ and he said ‘Yes, it is!’. Turned out they were also accountants for an Arab prince and his family who own it (or owned it), and they'd been out to Pitchford as their client was going to renovate and make it their UK country home. Looks like they didn’t get round to it!

    1. Yeah, I heard the Arab left it when the changes he wanted to make clashed with the buildings protection as a listed building, or something like that.

  3. Thank you for the pictures. As an American Pitchford, I will probably never make the trip to view it so I really enjoyed the tour!

    1. Thats a shame, but if you ever do cross the pond and come to Shrewsbury I'll happily show you around. I'm always amazed that this blog has such a wide audience in other countries.

  4. Wow what a place and WHY is it not used?!!!

    1. I know right? I knew you'd love this place. The gardens reminded me of that door in the tree that you found in Guilsfield.

  5. hi :) i'm thinking of exploring this place tomorrow, is there any security i should avoid? also how hard is it to gain access? thanks,

  6. I really enjoyed reading this! Excellent photographs! I'm married to a Pitchforth... We are trying to trace the origins of the name, came across it deriving from a pitchy ford (ewww). Interested in tracing information about Geoffrey de Pykeford

  7. I have always been intrigued with this house since I discovered it in 1999 and bought the video of it being auctioned off. Thank you for this virtual tour. It is well appreciated. Does anyone know what its current status is (August 2016)?

  8. Just come up on my facebook - previous owners, who still owned the land, have managed to buy it back with assistance. Fantastic news! Try searching Press Release: Pitchford Hall - Sleeping Beauty Awakes...

  9. amazingly informative as always