Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire


Ranton is a quiet little hamlet in Staffordshire, around 3 miles from Stafford and it is recorded in the Doomsday Book in 1086 under the Pirehill Hundred.

One thing about Ranton though is that it has hidden a couple of pretty big pieces of history that most people in Staffordshire probably know nothing about. Ranton Abbey's surviving 14th century tower and the ruins of Abbey House, a large country manor house in a 300 acre estate.

Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

Ranton Abbey (also known as Ranton Priory), was built in 1150 by Robert Fitz Noel of Ellenhall. It was an Augustian Abbey and flourished in the 13th century, as a subordinate house to Haughmond Abbey (near Shrewsbury). Life at Ranton was not necessarily the peaceful existence which we might expect though, as there are many recorded problems with discipline and mismanagement, particularly in the 14th century.

Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

The Abbey was dissolved by the Act of 1536 (Dissolution of the Monasteries). There is some evidence that the cloisters and some other parts were still standing in 1663, although they are now gone. All that remains is the 14th century tower and part of the south wall with a Norman doorway decorated with roll moulding.

Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

The three storey, red brick Regency house is Abbey House. This was built in 1820 by the 1st Earl of Lichfield (Thomas Anson) as a hunting lodge and weekend retreat. In the early 19th century the property became part of the estate of the Ansons of Shugborough, latterly Earls of Lichfield.

Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

Unfortunately the house was gutted by fire in 1941. It was occupied, during World War 2, by the bodyguard of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. Because of this, only the ruined shell of the house remain, although it is a spectacle, as the external walls still reach up to full height.

Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

The estate was purchased in the 1950's by the Wedgwood porcelain company and then bought back by the 5th Earl in 1987. The plan was to restore the house or to create a replacement as a seat for his family. English Heritage had various objections for many years, hindering the plans somewhat until permission was granted, a month after Lord Lichfield died, in December 2008.

The whole estate was sold in 2008 and 2011 (for over £35 million) however, no work has been carried out other than removing some of the ivy from the front of the house.


Abbey House and Ranton Abbey, Ranton, Staffordshire

For a small village Ranton has had its share of dramatic events. It was the scene of a murder in 1833 when a young man, Richard Tomlinson, killed his girlfriend, Mary Evans, while walking back to the village from Knightley. Tomlinson was hanged in 1834. Investigations carried out following Mary’s murder revealed that Tomlinson’s mother had murdered her husband in 1822. During the Second World War, two Wellington bombers crashed in the parish of Ranton while returning to their base at the nearby Seighford airfield.

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