Ilam Park and Hall
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Holy Cross church, with its Saxon crosses and tomb of St Bertram
The Dove was made popular by Izaac Walton, whose book 'The Compleat Angler' brought hordes of avid fishermen to the area. As the visitor numbers swelled in the Victorian period a series of stones were laid across a bend in the River Dove at the southern end of Dovedale. The stones were acquired by the National Trust in 1934, and the same time as Ilam Park itself.
Ilam HallThe first Ilam Hall that we know of was built in the Elizabethan period for the Port family. In 1809 the Ports sold Ilam to David Pike Watts, a wealthy brewer from London. When Watts died the Hall was inherited by his daughter Mary, who was married to Jesse Watts-Russell, an MP and High Sherriff of Staffordshire. Watts-Russell brought in John Shaw to design a new house, which was built by James Trubshaw, a builder and engineer. The house was finished by 1826, and the ornate Italianate garden designed at the same time.
What to see:The Hall itself is used as a youth hostel, and is not normally open to visitors (unless you are staying there), the National Trust maintains the Italianate Garden below the house, as well as Hinkley Wood, an ancient wooded area planted with limes. Hinkley Wood is a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
The beautifully carved late Saxon font in the church depicts scenes from the saint's life, and in the south chapel is a 13th century altar table said to be Bertram's shrine.
It is worth taking the time to explore Ilam village. It is a very attractive example of a 19th century estate village, moved here by Watts-Russell because it spoiled the view from his new Hall. Watts-Russell built the entre village in Swiss style, because he though t the area reminded him of Alpine scenery. The most prominent local landmark is Ilam Cross, a scale model of a medieval Eleanor Cross, built in memory of Mary, Watts-Russell's wife, who died in 1840.
Another National Trust property nearby is Ecton Engine House, built in 1789 to serve a copper mine. There are open days during the summer with guided tours of the Engine House and mine.
I loved Ilam Park. The location is utterly superb. I don't think I've ever seen a more beautifully situated country church than Holy Cross, with the hills of Dovedale rising beyond it. The gardens surrounding the Hall are lovely, though small. The main reason to visit Ilam Park is to take advantage of walking, and the historic backdrop of the Hall, church, and village just adds extra interest to an already beautiful location.
About Ilam Park and Hall
Address: Ilam, Staffordshire, England, DE6 2AZ
Attraction Type: Countryside
Location: West of Dovedale, look for the country park signs. Paid parking beside Ilam Hall.
Website: Ilam Park and Hall
Phone: 01335 350503
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Ilam, Holy Cross Church - 0.1 miles (Historic Church)
Dovedale - 1 miles (Countryside)
Casterne Hall - 1.2 miles (Historic House)
Tissington Hall - 2.9 miles (Historic House)
Norbury - 5.2 miles (Historic Church)
Old Manor - 5.2 miles (Historic Building)
Croxden Abbey - 8 miles (Abbey)
Arbor Low - 8.1 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Ilam Park and Hall: