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Great Fenton House, Heron Cross, Fenton



Great Fenton House, Heron Cross, Fenton
Great Fenton House, Heron Cross, Fenton

photo: Mick Faulkner



Known as Great Fenton House, it stood on high ground of Grove Road, near the entrance to the Stafford and Kemball collieries, and was built in the early 18th century.

Little is known of its early history. A Thomas Allen lived there and an Edward Challinor.

In 1913, the estate was sold to Stafford Coal And Iron Company. For some time the furnace manager and later the company secretary lived there.

My late uncle Roland Hill, while employed at the colliery, helped to lay electricity on to the house. By the outbreak of the Second World War it was uninhabited and was used by the Home Guard. As a child I remember seeing them on the roof with rifles.

After the war, in 1948, it was demolished.

For the local children, the area was an exciting but dangerous playground, with two nice pools and rope swings on the large trees. I remember playing in the walled garden.

It must have been a very peaceful area until 1873 and the 3rd Duke of Sutherland started the coal and iron mines, where the Britannia Stadium is now.

By 1920, the five shafts with iron and steel works and brickworks employed 3,800 men with an output of 730,000 tons of coal per annum, the five shafts being named after the directors of the company: Pender, Bourne, Homer, Sutherland and Kemball.

In 1924, the 4th Duke of Sutherland cut the first sod for the new Hem Heath Colliery at Trentham.

On the other side of the two pools in Grove Road stood another 17th century house called Great Fenton Hall.

Sentinel Newspaper 30 April 2011




1878 OS map of the 3 large houses on Grove Road
1878 OS map of the 3 large houses on Grove Road

to the north Great Fenton Hall and, marked in red, a group of 1720's workers cottages which both preceded and succeeded all three large houses

to the south is Great Fenton House and another large hose just marked 'Great Fenton' - between these two properties are the remnants of two fish ponds (plots marked 2933 and 2728) from an earlier moated farm



The approximate location of the three large houses - some features on the ground can still seen today. 
The area marked in red are the 1720 cottages shown on the 1878 map above.




The house was probably built in the mid-17th century by Thomas Allen, where his son, Reverend Dr Thomas Allen, former Rector of Stoke from 1697, was born.

The house replaced an earlier ancient property which was once surrounded by a huge ditch, probably created for defensive purposes. It had extensive views to Trentham Hall.

In 1841 it was occupied by his grandson Thomas Allen, then aged 65, and his house servant Jane Adams, aged 35. Allen was then considered a wealthy land owner.

In many respects, the height of its fame came in August 1842 during the Chartists Riots, when it was attacked in no uncertain terms. The rioters expected to find a large store of firearms as the large mansion was used as a depot for the Volunteers during the last war.

Upon reaching the house, the mob smashed the windows and took possession of the house and plundered it, breaking all the furniture into pieces and throwing the beds through the upper windows onto the lawns below.

There followed an attack on the wine cellar where its contents were quickly consumed and the larder cleared of its contents. 

Further damage was done when the mob set fire to ancient parchment documents relating to the history of the family There were found on the premises only a couple of guns and a brace of pistols and a couple of swords.

The mob took all that the servants possessed as well, and clothed themselves in Mr Allen's fine clothes. Then, the worse for drink, they departed to Fenton and then on to Penkhull to damage the home of Thomas Bailey Rose, the magistrate.

In 1855 the trustees of the late Thomas Allen leased the house to Edward Challinor for 10 years. The house and land was then leased out to the Duke of Sutherland for mining purposes until 1913, when it was sold to the Stafford Coal and Iron Company.

In 1891, the house was occupied by Samuel Alexander, aged 57, a blast furnace manager, his wife Isabella, and their two unmarried daughters, Jane and Mary.


Richard Talbot, Penkhull
Sentinel Newspaper 21 May 2011




contents: 2011 photos


related pages

Grove Road, Heron Cross

Fenton - the centre of the universe?

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