Poetry Competition: Remembering the Restoration
Middleton Hall is an incredible place, not just because of its vast history and inspiring architecture, but because it was saved by a group of volunteers.
The Hall was a family home up until 1966 when the owners, the Averills sold their extensive estate to a gravel extraction company. The gravel extractors made use of the acres of land but neglected the Hall and its formal gardens for over a decade. Over the years, the buildings were broken into by vandals. A group of youths even went so far as to ride their motorcycles up and down the Great Hall stairway leaving them close to collapse. The whole place was falling apart and overgrown.
In 1977, a group of ramblers came across the long-forgotten Hall during one of their walks and were saddened by its awful state. They decided they wanted to do something about and it and so held a meeting in Middleton Village School where they met with 40 representatives of 40 different organisations interested in heritage and restoration. They received the moral support of 39 representatives, with only one person not in support.
Volunteer Beryl Ellerslie, who played a vital role in the early days of the restoration alongside her husband, Max, wrote a letter to North Warwickshire Borough Council to ask whether they would consider supporting the restoration. The council were unwilling to offer their support as they deemed the Hall far too expensive to restore and past the point of saving. Undettered, the volunteers founded Middleton Hall Trust in 1980 with Mr Peter Thomas as their first chairperson.
The gravel extraction company, Amey Roadstone Corporation gave the volunteers £25,000 a year for a period of ten years to allow them to restore the Hall. This money was strictly for material costs only, not labour. It is thanks to the hard work of the wonderful volunteers that Middleton Hall is still standing today. They came from all walks of life; some were skilled crafters whilst others were just willing to learn and turn their hand to the jobs that needed doing. The restoration work continued through the 1980s, into the 90s and 00s and over the years 100s of volunteers have contributed their time, energy and passion to this fantastic place.
We are delighted to announce that we will receive a small grant from North Warwickshire Borough Council in the New Year to create a brand-new exhibition that celebrates the restoration and the people who made it happen. We would like to have a poem dedicated to the restoration on display as part of this exhibition. Can you write a poem that tells this inspirational story and captures the dedication, hard work and passion of the volunteers who restored this incredible place?
Anyone of any age can enter. Please email or post your entries to us by 1st March 2019. The winner will be chosen by our Board of Trustees and displayed as part of the new exhibition.
Please submit your entry to:
Middleton Hall & Gardens, Middleton, Tamworth, B78 2AE
For more information, call us on 01827 283095