Coton Hall, our ancestral home

Coton Hall today
Coton Hall today
For 500 years, the Lee family owned a sizeable chunk of the county in the parish of Alveley, near Bridgnorth.

The family, originally named de la Lee and probably of Norman descent, lived in Coton Hall from the 1300s onwards. Present day Coton Hall was built soon after 1800 for Harry Lancelot Lee, in the Georgian style. At the time the estate ran to 5,000 acres.

Although the present building is only some 200 years old, the Lee family's connections with the land go back 1,000 years. The previous building on the site was also called Coton Hall - and it was from here that Robert E. Lee's ancestors left for America in the 1600s. They originally went there to trade, and one or two returned to England after a few years, but one branch forged new lives for themselves in the young country, acquiring land and power. Two of them, Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee, were the only brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence. General Robert E. Lee's father was 'Light Horse Harry' Lee, a famous soldier of the Revolutionary War, where he was known for his courage in fighting the British.

And by a bizarre paradox, he may well have been reponsible for the deaths of soldiers from Shropshire - elements of the 53rd Regiment, which later became the Shropshire Regiment, were all but wiped out and the remainder captured at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Light Horse Harry resigned from the army as soon as the British were defeated, and settled down to raise the family that included the young general.

Coton Hall is located northeast of Alveley village.

But little remains of the house that Robert E. Lee's ancestors would have known. In the grounds of Coton Hall is one of the last remnants of the early buildings - the ruins of a chapel that probably dates from the 13th Century. But it's underground where the strongest traces of the old Coton Hall remain. The house's cellar is two storeys deep and in the lower of the two levels includes the entrance to a tunnel.

Chapel ruins at Coton Hall
Chapel ruins at Coton Hall
The grounds at Coton Hall
Coton Hall grounds

The tunnel runs all the way to Alveley village two miles away, although it's been concreted off beyond the chapel for safety reasons. Coton Hall passed out of the Lee family when Harry Lancelot Lee died in 1821 and the house was immediately sold, ending the Lees' long association with this part of the world. In 1878 the chapel roof collapsed and all the Lee monuments were moved to Alveley church. The house itself was extended in about 1860, when a new wing and an Italianate tower were added, but apart from that the house has survived remarkably well - all the fireplaces and cornices are original, for example.

Want to buy Coton Hall?

This is copied from the British realtor's web site that is listing Coton Hall for sale:
Bridgnorth, Bridgnorth, Shropshire 
Tenure: Freehold, Excess of 1,250,000
(equivalent to $2,042,507 US dollars)

Reception hall, 3 reception rooms, study, ballroom, cloakroom, kitchen, breakfast room, laundry, 8 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 shower rooms, cellarage. A further two adjoining self-contained houses.

Coton Hall is a fine example of an early 19th Century building of considerable internal and external elegance. Constructed in mellowed sawn grey stone and a slate roof, the property offers excellent family accommodation. Particularly notable are the well-proportioned reception rooms, with their high ceilings and decorative architectural detail. An additional wing with Italianate turret was added in the Victorian era. This blends admirably with the Georgian part of the house. The property enjoys wonderful views from every room. Elegant sash windows provide excellent natural light to the majority of rooms. There are many good examples of plasterwork and fireplaces, panelled doors and corniced and decorated ceilings. The floors of the halls, reception rooms, the main staircase and landing are of polished oak. Most rooms throughout the property have internal shutters. The house is situated in just over 6 acres, with a possible option to acquire a further 5 acres of parkland/grazing, situated adjacent to the south frontage of the property. The tranquil surroundings feature the romantic ruins of Coton Chapel, mature formal gardens, with beautiful specimen trees, walled garden and outdoor swimming pool. There are also outbuildings, garage and open bay garaging.

Mileage: Bridgnorth 6 miles, Kidderminster 8 miles, Wolverhampton 13 miles, Birmingham 22 miles (All mileages are approximate)

Inside views:
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