Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:


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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Shropshire (Unitary Authority)
Acton Burnell
National Grid Reference:
SJ 53422 02017


ACTON BURNELL C.P. ACTON BURNELL SJ 50 SW 6/4 Acton Burnell Hall 29.1.52 (Concord College) GV II*

Country house, now school. 1814, by John Tasker (c.1738-1816) for Sir Joseph Edward Smythe, probably a remodelling of a house of 1753-8 by William Baker (1705-71) for Sir Edward Smythe,extended c.1810, garden porch dated 1909, substantially rebuilt in 1915 by F.W. Foster after a fire in 1914; adjoining probably late C18 or early C19 chapel altered and extended in 1846 by C. Hansom. Painted stucco lined as ashlar with grey sandstone ashlar portico and porch; hipped slate roof. Remodelled in a Neo-Classical style. 2 storeys and attic. Plinth, cill bands, Tuscan giant order with pilaster strips at ends, entablature and blocking course, and central tetrastyle Ionic portico with unfluted columns supporting entablature and triangular pediment, and with low scrolled flanking walls at bases; C20 flat-topped dormers and 6 rendered stacks. 2:2:2 bays; glazing bar sashes with moulded architraves; central pair of 4-panelled doors with early C20 glazed draught lobby, 9-part rectangular overlight, moulded architrave, frieze, and acanthus brackets supporting cornice. Left-hand return front: 1:3:1:3 bays with 2 full-height canted bays and ground-floor windows with lugged architraves and keystones. Rear: 2:5:2 bays with pilaster strips at ends and to central break; central ashlar porch with channelled rustication, concave corners, moulded cornice, blocking course, and segmental-headed doorway with 2 glazed doors, lugged architrave, and keystone dated 1909. South-west wing: set back to right: c.1810; 3 storeys and attic; Tuscan giant order with pilaster strips, entablature, and blocking course; C20 flat-topped dormers and 4 stacks; 1:2:1 bays; glazing bar sashes and late C19 wooden cross casements. Chapel: stuccoed brick with later ashlar window dressings and addition of roughly squared and coursed grey sandstone with sandstone ashlar dressings and plain tile roof. L-plan; C14 Gothic style side chapel to south-west. Raised quoins, pilaster buttresses, and coped parapet with recessed square panels. 3 bays; c.1846 windows with 2 trefoil-headed chamfered lights and c.1846 west window with 3 trefoil-headed lights and cusped Geometrical tracery; 2-bay side chapel: angle buttresses and parapeted gable end; 2 bays; cusped Geometrical tracery, hoodmould with carved stops, and quatrefoil opening in apex of gable above. The house has cast iron downpipes with stag's head reliefs on the rainwater heads; downpipes to chapel have late C18 or early C19 lead rainwater heads. Interior of house: largely of 1915 by Foster in an early C18 style with bolection-moulded panelling, marble fireplaces and pedimented doorcases with lugged architraves and pulvinated friezes; full-height entrance hall has enriched plaster decoration and 3-flight square-well staircase with barley-suger and fluted balusters, and wreathed moulded ramped hand- rail with Composite columnular newel post; Ionic screen leading to central ground-floor segmental-vaulted corridor and 3 arches to first-floor gallery; library at rear in a Jacobean style with oak panelling, Tudor-arched stone fireplace with overmantel, and segmental-vaulted plaster ceiling with strapwork enrichments and roundels of heros; arcaded gallery to central first-floor corridor with enriched plaster decoration; early C19 back staircase in c.1810 block with closed string, stick balusters, and wreathed moulded hand- rail. Some of the panelling in the library seems to be reused C17 work, probably the panelling removed from Frodesley Lodge (q.v.), a nearby c.1600 house also formerly owned by the Smythes, after the fire at Acton Burnell in 1914. Interior of chapel: c.1846 fittings; west gallery with trefoil-arched arcade; chancel and side-chapel arches with chamfer dying into responds; trefoil-arched piscina to side-chapel; c.1846 stained glass in west window and side-chapel window; 2 chest monuments to members of the Smythe family of 1841 and 1853 consisting of recumbent-effigies within cusped-arched niches with ball flower ornament and hoodmoulds; other early and mid-C19 memorial plaques and tablets. A former early C19 stable block, now science block and gymnasium, adjoins the hall to the south-west. The builder for the 1915 rebuilding was James Carmichael of Wandsworth. It is known that by 1731 a small stone house stood on the site of the present building and the former small stable block to the south-west- (not included in this list), now student accommodation, might date from this time. Tasker certainly added the portico in 1815 and the rest of the building might have been rebuilt or remodelled at the same time or a few years before. Leach describes the house as being of 'white freestone' in 1891. He could have been misled by the painted stucco or the house could have been of ashlar before the 1914 fire and subsequent rebuilding. The pilaster strips to the entrance front and the 2 full-height canted bays to the north-east front seem to be 1915 additions; an early C19 coloured engraving [John Preston Neale (1771- 1847), Seats of the Nobility and Gentry] and a c.1891 photograph (Leach) show the house without the pilasters; the engraving also shows only one ground-floor bay and another pre-1914 photograph shows 2 ground-floor bays. The Shrewsbury Chronicle describes the house as having been 'completely destroyed' by fire during the night of the 14/15 April 1914 but also states that the chapel was spared. It appears that the house in its present form is largely of 1915 and that the portico and probably the shell date from before this time. The house stands in ornamental grounds with a lake and gable ends of a former medieval barn (County AM No la) a prospect tower [Keeper's Lodge (q,v.)], ice house (q.v.) and a shell house (q.v.). V.C.H., Vol. VIII, p.8; B.o.E., p.51; Colvin, Pp. 84 and 807; Ed. Francis Leach, The County Seats of Shropshire, Eddowes' Shrewsbury Journal (1891), Pp. 219-223 and photograph opposite p.220; The Archaeological Journal, Vol. 138 (1981), p.10; Shrewsbury Local Studies library, print and photograph collections.

Listing NGR: SJ5342202017


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Colvin, H M, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840, (1978)
Leach, F, The County Seats of Shropshire, (1891), 219-23
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Shropshire, (1908), 8
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Shropshire, (1958), 51
'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 138, (1981), 10
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 35 Shropshire,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 27 Jul 2002
Reference: IOE01/08171/26
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr M. I. Joachim. Source Historic England Archive
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