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- Records show that in 1145 the Dunstall Estate was owned by the Earl of Derby. In 1652, Thomas Bott held property in Dunstall apparently derived from the Hollands of Barton, which included the original mansion now known as Old Hall Farm. On the death of his great- granddaughter, Elizabeth Beardsley in the late 1700’s, the Estate was sold to John Meek, an opulent cheese-factor from Barton-under-Needwood.
In 1801, his son Richard acquired further lands in Dunstall that had been in the hands of the Turton family of Alrewas since 1660. The present house had in remoter times been a lodge on the edge of the Royal Forest of Needwood, and would have witnessed gatherings for many a Royal Hunt.
In 1814, Richard Arkwright, the retiring son of Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning jenny in 1764 and builder of the first water-powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford in Derbyshire, purchased the combined estates at public auction as a gift for his son Charles.
- These comprised Dunstall Hall and 440 acres and the Manor of Dunstall and Birdshall totalling 1,500 acres. After his father's death in 1792, Richard had disposed of most of the mills prior to the post-Napoleonic recession, and shrewdly invested in landed property and banking. He was far and away the wealthiest commoner in England when he died in 1842, leaving £3.25 million (£150 million at today's rates). Charles Arkwright was childless and on his death in 1850, the Hardy family from Yorkshire purchased the Estate.
Surviving plans from 1856 and 1890 show that extensive alterations undertaken effectively turned the old Manor House into the impressive Hall of today.In 1953, the Hall and Estate was acquired by Sir Robert Douglas, and on his death in 1997, in 1997 by Sir Stanley and Lady Clarke. An exciting refurbishment programme was carried out to exceptional standards, before the Hall and park were privately purchased by the present owner.
IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FEATURES
At the entrance to the Hall stands an 1850’s Ionic porte-cochere. The parapet is fretted to form "IS QUI DEDIT MIHI SERVET" (He who has given watches over me), dating from 1652 and removed from the old Hall. The dramatic centre top continues with a turret-like attic and a prominent frontal pediment. Visitors will be immediately intrigued by the unique carved front door, dated 1898, which depicts a glorious landscape of galloping horsemen, trees, a castle, and many humans and beasts all expressed in satirical style.
The reception hall is dominated by a magnificent staircase of wild animals set amid lush foliage carved by the same craftsman, Edward Griffiths, in 1899. The elaborate gilded atrium looks down upon a Roman mosaic of Cerberus, dating from the time of Caesar and originating from a villa in Tivoli.
The passage features a series of arches, beautifully decorated vaulted ceilings, and stained glass windows with leaf and flower patterns interspersed with heraldic shields.
A further corridor with an ornate ceiling depicting ribbons and fruit leads to the Orangery, a part of the original Lodge with flag-stoned floor and arched windows overlooking the garden.