Little Moreton's Tenants

Ann Dale surrounded by four of her children. Records suggest Ann was still farming at the age of 64

There is much local interest in the Dale family’s residence at Little Moreton Hall, largely because Dale is such a common name in the locality. Many people still living around the Cheshire and North Staffordshire border have connections to this large farming family.

From the late seventeeth century, Little Moreton Hall was rented out, initially to relatives of the Moreton family and then to a succession of tenant farmers. 

Consisting of Thomas and Ann and their fourteen children, the Dale family rented Little Moreton Hall from about 1880 to 1955, first as tenants under the Moretons and then as caretakers for the National Trust. The Hall was at the centre of a working farm during this time. After 1913, the house was open to the public and the Dales gave tours and served teas to the public from 9am until dusk, every day, all year.

However, they perhaps didn’t appreciate the house’s value quite as we do now; for example, the octagonal table in the Great Parlour was used as an ironing board. Even from the beginning of the Dales’ time at Little Moreton Hall, the house was clearly deteriorating. In 1887 a Mr Oliver Baker wrote to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings stating that the Hall was ‘falling to pieces for want of the most ordinary care. The wall's sinking so as to bulge the panelling as much as two feet.’ 

Cows in the moat at Little Moreton Hall in 1893
Cows in the moat at Little Moreton Hall in 1893
Cows in the moat at Little Moreton Hall in 1893

By the time Sister Elizabeth Moreton inherited the house in 1892, it was close to collapse and urgent repair work was needed.