The manor of Preston on Tees was held in 1515 by William Sayer but was lost when the estates of Lawrence Sayer, who was a Royalist during the English Civil War, were sequestered and sold by the Commonwealth of England. In 1673 the manor was purchased by George Witham and during the residency of the Witham family the manor house was known as Witham Hall. In 1722 William Witham sold the estate to Sir John Eden Bt of Windlestone Hall and in 1820 it was sold again to David Burton Fowler. In 1825 Fowler built the present Preston Hall as a modest two-storey three-bayed rectangular structure with a service wing. The old manor house was retained in use as a farmhouse until its demolition in 1974. In 1882 Marshall Fowler sold the estate to Robert Ropner, a shipping merchant and shipbuilder, who was High Sheriff of Durham in 1896 and who became a baronet in 1904. He extended the property by the addition of substantial wing blocks, and in about 1900 he added a large and recently renovated winter garden or conservatory. The Ropner baronets lived in the house until 1937 (in which year Leonard Ropner served as High Sheriff). The Hall is now a museum with a fine art collection and thousands of artefacts relating to local history. In addition there is the Winter Garden where you can sit and relax amongst the majestic shade of banana palms or watch the sun setting across the park from the ideal viewpoint. In the chill of winter, the winter garden’s temperate environs make the ideal place to take shelter from the elements. In the height of summer, step inside and you could well be on the other side of the world.
In the grounds is a reconstruction of a Victorian High Street complete with shops which will bring back fond memories to many. Do you remember your childhood sweet shop with a bell on the door and a sweet aroma as you pushed the door open to a little world full of sweets? From Parma violets to sherbet pips, JF Smith sells a wide range of traditional sweets and confectionery. Expect to see a range of favourite flavours – from rhubarb and custards to bull’s eyes and old-fashioned toffee – and tuck shop staples like sherbert fountains and liquorice wands. Thos Wilks - Silk mercer and draper - drapers in Victorian times often operated as both a cloth merchant and haberdasher. Percy Burnstein - Pawnbroker : Property and pawnbrokers shops are intertwined in the Victorian imagination. The exchange is usually an unhappy one, the proprietor being of ill intent and the customer down on their luck. Pawnbrokers shops were quite common in Victorian Britain. They could be recognised from some distance away because there were usually three balls hanging outside, usually of a gold colour. The idea was that anyone in need of ready cash would take something or things that they owned to the pawnbroker who would loan them a certain amount of money using the loaned items as security. Cuthbert Webster - Grocer : Victorian grocers bought goods in bulk and then decanted them into smaller weights. The term ‘grocer’ originates from medieval times, when anyone who bought goods in bulk, or by the gross, was known as a grocer. G Benson - Ironmonger : The local blacksmith remained the principal source of ironmongery until the Industrial Revolution saw the introduction of mass production from the late 18th Century. This came to a climax in the second half of the 19th century, when Victorian ironmongery offered a treasurehouse of appealing metalwork, with elaborate manufacturers’ catalogues offering literally thousands of wonderful objects to meet each and every need, almost all of which sought to combine practicality with pleasing design. And many more nostalgic emporiums. Designated disabled parking spaces are located within the main car park, adjacent to Cafe Tees. Toilets are located in the grounds and Preston Hall. The toilets in Preston Hall are accessible via lift. It is wheelchair accessible.
Location : Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees TS18 3RH
Transport: Eaglescliffe (National Rail) 1 mile or bus. Bus routes 7 and 7A stop outside.
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday, Holiday Mondays 10:00 to 16:00.
Tickets: Adults £2.50. Concessions/Children £1.50.
Tel: 01642 527375