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HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The manor of Aldenham was acquired by Thomas Acton in 1465, and a fortified manor house was built at about this period (Country Life, 1977). The remains of this house, including a gatehouse and castellated wall, are shown in a drawing by E. Hotchkiss (1756) which was based on a plan of 1625 (Country Life, 1977). This view also shows an early 17th-century house built by Thomas's descendent, Walter Acton. Walter Acton’s son, Edward (1600-59), was created a baronet in 1643.

The 2nd baronet, Sir Walter, succeeded his father in 1659 but died prematurely in 1665, when he was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Edward. The 3rd baronet, who served as MP for Bridgnorth between 1698 and 1705, married a wealthy heiress and in the late 17th century began to remodel the early 17th-century house. This was continued by Sir Edward’s son, Sir Whitmore Acton, who inherited in 1716 (Country Life, 1977). Sir Whitmore also made alterations to the park and gardens, which are recorded by Thomas Burton on a plan of 1722 (SRO).

Sir Whitmore died in 1736 and was succeeded as 5th baronet by his son, Sir Richard, who made few changes to the estate apart from building the stables around 1751 (Country Life, 1977). When Sir Richard died without a direct heir in 1791, Aldenham passed to General John Acton, prime minister of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and a long-standing resident at Naples. General Sir John, 6th baronet, died at Palermo in 1811, having failed to realise his wish of retiring to Aldenham.

His son, Sir Richard, was educated in England and attained his majority in 1822, at which time further alterations were made to the house and grounds. Sir Richard, 7th baronet, married the Duchess of Dalberg in 1832 but died five years later leaving an infant son, Sir John, who was created Lord Acton in 1865. Lord Acton, a noted politician and historian, built a substantial library in about 1865; this was demolished in the early 20th century. Lord Acton, professor of modern history at Cambridge University from 1895, spent little time at Aldenham after 1878 (Country Life, 1977), and died in 1902, when he was succeeded as 2nd Baron by his son, Richard. The family occupied the house in the early 20th century, but subsequently it was let. In the mid-20th century it was occupied by the third Lord Acton’s stepmother-in-law, Lady Rayleigh, and her son, the Honourable Guy Strutt. In 1959 the estate was sold to Mr and Mrs Christopher Thompson, who undertook a comprehensive scheme of restoration. The site remains (2000) in private ownership.
 

Site timeline

1465: The manor of Aldenham was acquired by Thomas Acton in 1465, and a fortified manor house was built at about this period.

1865: Lord Acton, a noted politician and historian, built a substantial library in about 1865. This was demolished in the early 20th century.

1959: In 1959 the estate was sold to Mr and Mrs Christopher Thompson, who undertook a comprehensive scheme of restoration.

People associated with this site

Surveyor: William Baker (born 1705 died 1771)

Other: Robert Bakewell (born 1682 died 1752)

Designer: William Andrews Nesfield (born 1793 died 02/03/1881)

Designer: William Andrews Nesfield (born 1793 died 02/03/1881)

Sculptor: John van Nost the Younger (died 1780)

Features

stable block

Feature created: 1751