The history of Clayton Hall
The present Clayton Hall, which forms the centre hub of the Academy, is at least the third Hall on or near the current site. There was once a Hall on Clayton Road where Barn Court is currently situated, and which belonged to the Lovatt Family, local landowners at the time. The second Hall was opposite the Nuffield Hospital, and it eventually belonged to Mary Lovatt Booth, the sole survivor of the Lovatt and Booth families. Mary was a local heiress who married John Ayshford Wise in 1837. Both the Hall and the family are featured in John Ward’s book Stoke-upon-Trent of 1842.
The family did not live in the second Hall, as it was a little run down at the time. As newlyweds they had a new Hall built on the present site, and in order to provide more private grounds Clayton Lane was moved to its present position, because it originally ran through the grounds.
The Family were not living in the new Hall at the time of the April 1841 Census, but by November 1841 it appears to be occupied. Their elder daughter planted a tree near the drive, and there is still a plaque there now.
The Hall probably originally consisted of a square building around the main stairs where there would have been a lantern with windows to provide daylight to the centre of the building. The family rooms were downstairs facing south, and they would open out onto the terraced garden. There was a large dining room to entertain important guests, as John was very involved in local politics. The servants wing, which had bedrooms and a food preparation area and storage, was at right angles to the Hall. It was probably separate at first and joined to the Hall at a later date.
John and Mary were wealthy landowners and had three children. It is worth remembering that Clayton Hall was a family home and that there were approximately twelve live-in servants to look after them. The grounds were landscaped and included walks, woods, and ponds, and there was a lawn-tennis court for the newly invented sport.
Behind the Hall were separate laundry rooms, a stable and a coach house, and food storage areas for fresh produce from the estate. The orchard dates from this time and the fruit trees still situated there are very old.
By 1891, when the Hall was put up for sale, a single storey Billiard Room had been built. This is the present Library. The ceilings in this area are highly decorated with papier-mâché and pierced coving, and the rooms that were used by the family have chimney breasts for open fires.
Eventually a second storey was built above the Billiard Room. This was a master bedroom with a toilet and bathroom next door, and the room was lined with marble.
The Hall was used as a family home for nearly 100 years until 1939. It was then taken over during the Second World War as a training base for Fleet Air-Arm Apprentices and extra outbuildings were built. Only the Gymnasium, Chapel and Minibus Garage remain from this time, the Chapel having been internally refurbished in 2016. The Hall was painted in camouflage during the war time when it was used as a navy training camp. A “fake boat” was built on site to train thousands of young men and women. Full Story
After the War, the Hall and the wartime buildings became part of Clayton Hall Grammar School for Girls which opened in 1947. The main teaching block and assembly Hall were built in 1963, the technology block in 1978, the mobiles in 1987 and the Sports Hall in 1995.
In 1997, the school won a grant of £60,000 to restore a historic garden wall which was originally built in 1840. Once it was restored, the public were invited to attend a ceremony performed by the Education Chairman, Cllr John Brooks.
Over recent years the Academy has worked hard to keep the heritage alive and make sure that the Hall’s history is not forgotten. The school’s doors are regularly opened to the public and can be hired out for community events. The new logos were developed to retain a ‘crest’ style with historical connection to local family coats of arms.
Some more recent photos of the school’s history are included in our Commemorative Newsletter. CHBLC summer 15