Grounds and parkland around a Palladian country house of the 1740s, with avenues and drives further exploiting the scenic potential of the local countryside.
Linley was bought in 1580 by Robert More, and the manor of More by his son Richard in 1601. In 1731 Robert's grandson, also Robert, also inherited Larden (Shrops) and other property, and it was probably this which enabled him to contemplate building a new house at Linley and planting up the area around it. He was MP for Bishop's Castle 1727-41 and, after a gap while building took place, for Shrewsbury 1754-61. More travelled widely, was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a friend of Carl Linnaeus (d 1778), a notable botanist and was responsible for re-introducing or popularising the larch in England. He died in 1780. Thereafter Linley descended in the family and remains in private hands in 1998.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Linley Hall stands below Heath Mynd and Linley hills looking south across its park, 2km west of the village of Norbury and 2km north of More. The market town of Bishop's Castle is 6km to the south-west. The park itself is small, extending north from the minor road which runs east from the A488 Shrewsbury to Bishop's Castle road to Norbury, to the bottom of Heath Mynd hill, to encompass the Hall, stables and kitchen garden and their immediate surrounds. Major avenues however approach from the north and south and serve to enhance and emphasise the Hall's naturally beautiful setting. The area here registered is c 120ha.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main approach to the Hall is from the south, via a curving, 300m long drive from a simple gate on the minor local road between the A488 and Norbury. South of that gate the drive continues south-south-east for 1.3km down the straight, double oak, Avenue (present trees mostly of 1937, replanted after felling of earlier oak avenue in 1916) to an early C19 formal gateway and screen with ashlar piers (all listed grade II) on a minor road 1km east of More. About 75m west of the gateway is Avenue Lodge (listed grade II), a two-storey, rubble stone house with hipped slate roof and slightly gothick detailing probably of the later C18. There is also a stone, cottage-style lodge of c 1850 (Linley Lodge, listed grade II) east of the north end of the Avenue.
Equally dramatic, although curving and scenic rather than straight and rigidly formal, is the 4km long Linley Drive (in 1841 known as The Park) which approaches the Hall from the north along the valley of the West Onny. It departs from the A488 through a simple gate, on the north side of which is the Welsh Lodge, an ornate, two-storey, rubble stone cottage of 1843. From here the drive runs north-east before turning south-east between Cefn Gunthly to the west and Black Rhadley Hill to the east. Here the drive begins a gentle descent to the south, along a broad swathe of grassland set between dense and scenic woodland on the higher ground to either side. This includes some of More's original larches. Set above the drive to the east (outside the registered area) is Lower Beach (listed grade II), another cottage with ornamental adornments of the mid C19. About 1km from the south end of the drive it crosses a rough stone bridge (listed grade II) over the West Onny, perhaps late C18.
Linley Hall (listed grade I) was built between 1743 and 1746 to a design by Henry Joynes of London, Clerk of Works at Kensington Palace. Of compact, Palladian design, the south front is of two storeys above a rusticated basement and five bays wide, the left and right bays slightly projecting and crowned by pediments. Although there is a principal, ground-floor door in the centre of the south side, the main working entrance is on the east side, off the yard between Hall and stables.
Some 50m north-east of the Hall is a quadrangular stone stables block (listed grade II*), also by Joynes and of about the same date as the Hall. Its nine-bay south facade with pedimented centre with cupola above is an important element of the overall architectural composition as Linley is approached from the south.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
To the south of the Hall and stables are lawns, largely open but for one large clump of rhododendron. At the edge of the park immediately beyond the late C19 ha-ha along the south edge of the lawn, c 100m south-east of the Hall, is a small mound planted with conifers. Although claimed to be a round barrow (scheduled ancient monument) it lies directly on the line of the Avenue, and may be a landscape feature. To the west and especially north-west of the Hall shrubs and specimen trees are more densely planted. Behind the Hall, to the north, is a small formal rose garden laid out by Lady and Sir Jasper More in the mid C20.
East of the stables is the 250m long, triangular Fish Pond, the east bank of which is heavily planted with rhododendron. On a promontory on its south-east side, well planted with mature specimen trees, is a small temple-like structure contrived from an earlier icehouse in the 1950s as a changing room for bathers. The structure is cut into a low mound, again (and equally improbably) long claimed as a round barrow. Its pedimented facade employs iron columns from Netley Old Hall. From it there is one of the best views of the Hall and stables; equally, it forms an important element of the view across the pool from the east side of the Hall. The Fish Pond was enlarged to its present triangular plan in the later C19 from an amalgamation of an oval mill pool and a smaller header pond to its north.
It seems likely that the Hall's surrounds have been similar to their present appearance since its construction in the 1740s, with an initial planting of specimen trees by Robert More. In the 1840s there was some form of concentric garden 50m west of the Hall, whose site was occupied in the 1880s by a fountain.
South and west of the Hall, and east of the approach drive, is parkland, permanent pasture with mature parkland and specimen trees including several massive oaks. As noted above, the swathe of grassland along the Linley Drive was described in the mid C19 as parkland, and it retains this character today.
The Avenue which approaches from the south is aligned not on the Hall of the 1740s but on the stables, perhaps suggesting that this was the site of the earlier house. The Avenue, the oaks of which felled in 1916 were reportedly older than the house (CL 1961, 503) may have been laid out in the late C17.
Another avenue, the Beech Avenue, runs on a curving line uphill for 2km from the east side of Hayes Wood to the top of Linley Hill. A ring-count suggests it was planted in the 1720s, and therefore is another of Robert More's schemes. Replanting was taking place in the 1990s. Maps of the C18 and early C19 show several other avenues, no longer extant, in the vicinity of the Hall.
About 300m south of the Hall, and crossed by the minor road which bounds the park, is the site of a Roman villa (scheduled ancient monument), apparently of high status and possibly connected with the local lead mining industry. Part of a mosaic excavated from the villa in the mid C19 is reset in More church.
A roughly square stone-walled kitchen garden lies 300m west of the Hall. It lies on ground which slopes quite steeply to the south, and the south wall of the garden is very low. Running east/west across the centre of the garden is a brick fruit wall, probably, like the perimeter walls, C18. In the later 1990s an extensive programme of refurbishment was under way in the gardens, and a long, new, lean-to glasshouse was built along the north wall.
A straight avenue of mature oaks and chestnuts leads east from the south-east corner of the kitchen garden to the north-west corner of the Hall's grounds. It, or a predecessor, was already present by c 1780.
Gardener's Chronicle, (11 December 1880), pp 747-8
F Leach, The County Seats of Shropshire (1891), pp 81-8
Country Life, 130 (7 September 1961), pp 502-5; (14 September 1961), pp 558-61
Maurice Sayce, Survey of Linley, c 1780 (private collection)
R Baugh, Map of Shropshire, 1808
C and J Greenwood, Map of Shropshire, 1827
Map of More etc, c 1840 (private collection)
Tithe map and apportionment, 1841 (1053/Ti/1A), (Shropshire Records and Research Centre)
OS 1" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1839
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1882, published 1891
2nd edition surveyed 1901, published 1902
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1883, published 1883
Description written: November 1998
Register Inspector: PAS
Edited: February 2000