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Another snippet of local interest…

Debbie Porter

APEDALE HALL was a manor house near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, it was rebuilt in 1826 by the Heathcote family in the Elizabethan style by Richard Edensor Heathcote.  The building was demolished in 1934, due to subsidence from the coal mines underneath. 

Richard Edensor Heathcote (1780 – 1850) was a British Industrialist.  Born the son of Sir John Edensor Heathcote of Longton Hall.  He was elected the Member of Parliament (MP) for Coventry in 1826.

Of all the Heathcotes, Richard must surely have had the most eventful career. He had many triumphs and tragedies, but for most of his life, personal happiness eluded him. His life was continually punctuated with disappointments and sorrow. It is a mark of his strength of character that he survived most of it without a breakdown in health, though this was close at times.

In 1838 Richard was ironmaster of Apedale and was making improvements. Output was to be increased as he confidently expected the railway would arrive in the valley in a year or two. In fact, this event was still fifteen years in the future. There were then two blast furnaces in existence, so he planned a third one which was operating by 1842. To increase coal and ironstone supplies, Watermills Colliery was improved in the two years up to 1840. A steam engine was installed to replace the water-powered pumping and winding gear which had given the pit its name. Richard looked back now upon the struggles of the past twenty years, during which he had become undisputed master of Apedale and into the base of the new chimney-stack at Watermills he had four stone plaques inserted, the first recording ‘R.E.H. AD1840’. Then on the other three sides, he commented upon his adversities and triumphs, ‘Regard the End’, ‘Live and Let Live’, ‘Be Just and Fear Not’. Fortunately, these remain today in their original position, as Richard’s grandson, realising their significance, ordered they should be left intact when the rest of the stack was demolished in 1912.

In November 1840, shortly after Richard’s sixtieth birthday, his last child Michael was born. Apedale Hall became the scene of more construction work as extensions were built, which included a new banqueting hall. Into the windows of this room Richard had four stained-glass heraldic designs installed, the fruits of his researches over twenty years. The four shields were:

               I.  Lindsay: his second wife and mother of Anne.

               II.  Edensor-Heathcote.

              III.  Bowyer-Gresley: from whom he was descended.

              IV. Heathcote-Sandford: in honour of his eldest son’s marriage in 1837.

The latter would inherit the Hall at the end of that decade.

Richard died in Genoa, Italy on 29th May 1850.   His body was brought back to England and was buried in Audley Churchyard on June 17th, following an impressive funeral conducted by Rev. Wilbraham. He had in his lifetime accumulated great wealth and consolidated the Heathcotes as a leading family in North Staffordshire.

Potteries Auctions sold one of the Heathcote stained-glass windows from Apedale in our November 11th Antique, Rare Pottery & Fine Art Sale.  

Lot 851E – 19th Century Arts and Crafts oblong stained and etched glass window with armorial coloured medallion, one of a series of four. The design appears somewhat redolent of William Morris in its appearance.  By repute the Coat of Arms belong to the family of Richard Heathcote associated with local country house known as Apedale Hall, height 128 x 53cm (includes frame).

The Apedale Hall glass stained window sold in our Sunday 12th November 2017 Sale for £1,050.00 and will be going to the Apedale Heritage Centre.  A lovely piece of local history remains in the area.

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