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Sugnall Hall

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History of Sugnall Hall Estate

Turton had overextended himself, and through the nineteenth century the estate passed through many hands, most of them wealthy from manufacturing and seeking a hunting and shooting estate. In the 1830s Richard Hodges decided to update the heating in the vinery to a hot-water system. He was a keen huntsman and the hunt periodically met on the Lawns in front of the house (where the Eccleshall Show is now held). He added Sugnall House to the estate.

Hodges died in 1873, and the estate was sold to an iron master from Dudley called Walter Williams. One of his main products was chains. He was in many ways typical of industrialists who sought to join the landed gentry. He took a keen interest in hunting and built a gamekeeper’s cottage with adjacent kennels in order to house the hunt’s dogs. In 1880 Williams was Sheriff and from 1881 an honorary major in the Staffordshire Yeomanry. By 1879 he had demolished John Turton’s house, except for the kitchen wing, together with most of the stables and farm buildings, intending to rebuild in Italianate style. An architect’s sketch view remains at Sugnall Hall. However he proceeded no further than a set of carriage houses. Another great interest was exotic plants which he indulged in the walled garden.

When Williams realised that his Italianate villa was beyond his means he decided to enlarge Sugnall House. Hence about 1880 he added the eastern part and the billiard room to that house, and enlarged the garden. He was residing there when he died in 1893, and an elaborate sale catalogue was prepared, offering the house ‘lock, stock and barrel’.

Charles Lowe purchased the Sugnall estate from Williams’s executors. He too was an industrialist, having chemical works in Stockport and Bradford. His chief products were phenol and carbolic acid, for many years the only available effective antiseptic, and the reason for dramatically improved survival rates from surgical operations.

After Lowe died in 1897 Sugnall went to his younger son, Charles Edwin Lowe. Between father and son they gradually enlarged the estate to its present size of 1400 acres. Charles Edwin had qualified as an engineer, but devoted himself to the estate and became a keen huntsman. He ran the estate for nearly 60 years, a routine broken only by enlisting for army service during the 1914-8 war. His wife, Susan, was one of first women to have qualified as a doctor, but she too devoted herself to life at Sugnall. They had two daughters, but when the younger, Mary, died of meningitis aged 21 her grief-stricken parents had the organ and lady chapel carved for Eccleshall church in her memory.

When the redoubtable Susan died in 1959 the estate passed to her only grandchild, Anne, wife of Greville Jacques, a wartime bomber pilot and later a helicopter pilot. Mrs Jacques was a magistrate, the national vice-president of the Women’s Institutes and the recipient of an MBE. Greville was chairman of Stone Rural District Council, the Rural Community Council, and Eccleshall Parish Council.

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Walled Garden

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