Hounds and Hastings – the History of Hoar Cross Hall

The History of Hoar Cross Hall

By Jono Oates

Situated 10 miles from Lichfield is the former stately home of Hoar Cross Hall, now a residential resort spa, but previously home to many generations of the Meynell-Ingram family.

The land on which the hall was built was part of the Needwood Forest and in the 11th century belonged to Henry De Ferrers, who owned land throughout the country following the Norman conquest. In 1740 the Hon. Charles Talbot, a relative of the Earl of Shrewsbury, bought the estate and it was then sold to Hugo Meynell, another major land owner and politician. He was one of the two MPs who represented Lichfield in Parliament in 1762. The Meynell family claimed that their family line could be traced back to Hugo de Grand Mesnil who was one of the few known companions of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings and was, again, a significant landowner.

Hugo Meynell was a noted fox hunter and developed a breed of hound that was quicker, fitter and had a better sense of smell than earlier breeds. He was Master of the Fox Hounds of the Quorn Hunt in Leicestershire and is often considered to have been the father of modern fox hunting. Hugo married Elizabeth Ingram-Shepherd, daughter of Charles Ingram and their son, also Hugo, was the first to be given the surname of Meynell-Ingram.

Their grandson, yet another Hugo, married Emily Charlotte Wood, the daughter of Sir Charles Wood, 1st Viscount Halifax and they oversaw the construction of the current hall, which was completed in 1871 after 10 years of building work.  It was designed by the English architect Henry Clutton and was modelled on the design of Temple Newsam, the stately home of the Ingram family in Yorkshire. Several months before the building had been finished Hugo Maynell-Ingram had fallen from his hunting horse and, just a few months after the family had moved in, he passed away. His widow, Emily Charlotte, remained in residence at the family home, and arranged for a church to be built alongside the hall, the Church of the Holy Angels. The church, built in her late husband’s memory, was completed in 1876.

The couple had no children so, when Emily died in 1904, her brother Fredrick Wood, who had been living with her at Hoar Cross since Hugo had died, took the surname of Meynell-Ingram to continue the family name. In 1953 the last Meynell-Ingram to live at the hall, yet another Hugo, and his family, moved to a smaller residence at nearby Newborough and the hall’s long association with the Meynell-Ingram’s came to an end.

In 1970 William and Gwynyth Bickerton-Jones bought the hall and restored it before it was sold to become the luxury resort spa that it is today, part of the Baron’s Eden Hotel group.

Sources: www.baronseden.com/hoar-cross-hall; www.growingupinastatelyhome.uk/blog by Viv Wilson (nee Bickerton-Jones); www.e-voice.org.uk/hoarcross/history-of-hoar-cross

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