Summary

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Brief description of site

Morville Hall is an Elizabethan house which was remodelled in the 18th century, and has grounds dating from that period. It featured veteran trees, avenues, water features, and an obelisk.

Brief history of site

Morville Hall and grounds were designed in the mid-18th century by Arthur Weaver, M.P. for Bridgnorth. By the 19th century, some features described in the 18th century were no longer present. Some remodeling of the gardens has been done in the 20th century, and the property has been in the hands of the National Trust since 1965.

Location information:

Address: Morville Hall, Morville, Shropshire, WV16 5NB

Locality: Morville, Shropshire

Local Authorities:

Shropshire; Morville

Historical County: Shropshire

OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 138 Grid Ref: SO668940
Latitude: 52.5428 Longitude: -2.49097

Visitor facilities

Opening contact details:

Admission by guided tour. By written appointment only with the tenants, Dr & Mrs C. Douglas.
01746 780838
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Key information:

Form of site: landscape garden

Purpose of site: ornamental garden

Context or principal building: mansion house

Site Style : English landscape garden

Site first created: 1748 to 1760

Main period of development: Mid 18th century

Survival: Extant

Description

Morville Hall, a 16th-century building, was imposingly remodelled by William Baker in the mid 18th century. Baker's employment began following the election of his client Arthur Weaver as M.P. for Bridgnorth in 1747. As well as rebuilding the house, Weaver also made improvements to its grounds. He was possibly acting as his own landscape designer, and attempted to model the gardens on the height of current fashion. They are described in a letter of July 1760 from Thomas Percy to William Shenstone. Implicitly comparing the work at Morville Hall to his own Naturalistic landscape gardens at The Leasowes, Halesowen (designed by Shenstone), Percy somewhat sarcastically commented on Weaver's efforts:

'Last year died a Mr Weaver who had a Seat near Bridgenorth and who was possessed by the very demon of Caprice: He came into possession of an Old Mansion that commanded a fine view down a most pleasing Vale, he contrived to intercept it by two straight rows of Elms that ran in an oblique direction across it, and which led the Eye to a pyramidal Obelisk composed of one single board set up endways and painted by the Joiner of the Village: this obelisk however was soon removed by the first puff of wind. In view of one of his windows grew a noble large, Spreading Ash, which tho' the spontaneous gift of Nature, was really a fine object: and by its stately figure and chearful Verdure afforded a most pleasing relief to the Eye; you will stare when I tell you that Mr W had this Tree painted white, leaves and all: it is true the leaves soon fell off, and the tree died, but the Skeleton still remains, as a monument of its owner's Wisdom and Ingenuity.'

The elm avenues mentioned by Percy are not visible on detailed 19th-century and later maps, so were obviously short-lived. The gardens around the house include several historic features. The lawn south-west of the house is enclosed by two rows of tall yews. Beyond is a rose garden, and further beyond still a formal canal. At the side of the Hall is a small formal sunken garden and a lily pool, both laid out in the earlier 20th century.


Principal building:

country house Created 1748 to 1749

Morville Hall is an Elziabethan house heavily converted and remodeled in the mid-18th century by William Baker. It is of gray stone, with two projecting wings towards the east. The wings are each fronted by two giant pilasters and two Tuscan columns. In the angles of the wings there are narrow staircases which survive from the 16th century, as does the plaster ceiling in the kitchen. Lower service ranges of four bays, featuring cupolas, are connected to the house by curved walls.

External web site link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/morville-hall/

History

People associated with this site

Architect: William Baker (born 1705 died 1771)

Features

avenue

Feature created: 1748 to 1760

There was an avenue of two rows of elms running across the park.

obelisk

Feature created: 1748 to 1760

There was a pyramidal obelisk at the end of the avenue. Percy's letter implies that it was wooden and ephemeral.

specimen tree

Feature created: 1748 to 1760

There was a large Spreading Ash in view of the house. Percy's letter states that Weaver had it all painted white, resulting in the death of the tree.

rose garden

A rose garden lies south-west of the house.

canal

A small formal canal lies beyond the rose garden.

pond

Feature created: 1900 to 1930

An early 20th-century lily pond lies to the side of the hall.

References

Organisations associated with this site

Shropshire Parks & Gardens Trust

The National Trust Role: Manager/s

Sources of information

Country Life, Vol. 112

Country Life, Vol. 112, (1952): 464, 532, 686.

Gardens of the National Trust (1979)

Thomas, G.S. Gardens of the National Trust, (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979): 172-173.

Historic Parks and Gardens of Shropshire

Stamper, P.A. Historic Parks and Gardens of Shropshire, (Shrewsbury: Shropshire Books, 1996): 43.

The Buildings of England: Shropshire

Newman, J. and Pevsner, N. The Buildings of England: Shropshire, (London: Yale University Press, 2006)

The Percy Letters: The Correspondence of Thomas Percy and William Shenstone

Brooks, C. (ed.) The Percy Letters: The Correspondence of Thomas Percy and William Shenstone, (London: Yale UP, 1977): 64.

Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society

Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society, 4th series, 5, (Shrewsbury: Brown and Binnand), 67-68.

Images

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