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Toft Hall History
No one is exactly sure when Toft Hall was built but there is evidence of Ellen Toft living locally in the late 1500s and beginning of the 1600’s which is certainly the date that the historic house experts believe it was built. At that time it was called Tofthall Farm.
The original house was the section you can see to the right of the photo.
It was built with a cruck frame (a large oak tree would have been grown with a curved trunk or large branch and this was then split down the middle to form the main arch beam of the house). It was built by someone of local wealth as the stone is beautifully dressed. There are still a few of the original small mullion windows on the top floor and evidence in the stone work of where the others were before they were replaced by fashionable sash windows in the 18th century. Inside the oldest part of the house you can still see some walls of wattle and daub preserved behind glass.
In approx 1690 a kitchen was built on the left hand side (ignore the porch – this is a much later addition!). When you are in this room (now the second kitchen) you can see the absolutely massive beam which would have been in front of the fire. Due to the fire risk the kitchen was not linked directly to the main house and the servants would have had to go outside and back in again through another door!
By 1741 the High Sheriff of Staffordshire (the King’s representative in the County), William Armett, was living here. According to A History of the County of Stafford volume 7 “he improved the house and laid out a walled garden. Known at Toft Hall by 1775, the house was remodelled and extended to the south in the mid 19th century”. Actually we believe the southern extension was there earlier than this! We found a coin dated 1794 hidden behind the plaster – very likely placed here by the builders as a good luck charm. This southern extension is now the living room and with bedrooms on the two floors above. This allowed access to both sides of the house, so no more facing the elements to move food from one side to the other!
In the 19th century other improvements were made. In the cellars (sadly not open to guests) there is an arched roof made from dressed stone. We haven’t found anyone yet who can explain why anyone would have spent so much money on a cellar room.
The house was occupied by large extended families and their servants. Census data from the late 19th century show many people living here. One of the locals told us how his job as a young man was to polish the floor in what is now the living room with the especially creamy milk that is produced immediately after calving! The house continued to be lived in up to the early 1990’s but had gradually fallen into decline. By 1996 when we bought the property it was so derelict that it had gone to auction and not sold. You could stand in the cellar and look up 4 storeys and see the sky through the holes in the roof and floors!
Working with the local conservation officer and a greatly sympathetic building team it was brought back to life. The walled garden had cows in and was no more than rough field. The new garden was designed to be in keeping with earlier garden design styles.
Today Toft Hall is a lovely quirky house. It still shows many signs of it’s over 400 years of history. It is not a ‘grand’ house but has always been a family home and it is easy to imagine previous occupants going about their lives there. Enjoy!
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