A time capsule of domestic life

Sunnycroft staircase hall skylight

Small in size but designed to impress. This suburban villa was built by the emerging middle class in an industrial society to emulate the country houses and estates of the landed gentry but on a much smaller scale. Explore the life and style of this new class of business men and women.

The background

Originally built by a brewer on three acres of land and on a modest scale in 1879. The house was extended in 1899 to its present layout by Mary Jane Slaney, the widow of a wine and spirit merchant.

In 1910 it was bought by J. V. T. Lander and stayed with the Lander family until 1997 when it passed to the National Trust. Apart from minor cosmetic changes, including the introduction of electricity, little has changed since Mary Jane Slaney extended the house.

The Landers have left a lasting legacy to Sunnycroft, they threw little away, allowing the life of an Edwardian house to envelope you as you walk in.

The interior

Sunnycroft was designed to impress. Based on the larger country houses of Shropshire this house has everything it needed to entertain guests.

Split into male and female, servants and masters, formal and informal sections, this house manages to cram a lot into a small space.

The Staircase Hall sweeps your eyes skywards
Sunnycroft Shropshire Staircase Hall offers a grand central point to the house
The Staircase Hall sweeps your eyes skywards

Built to last

Sunnycroft was built to last. The interior fixtures and fittings were chosen for their style and durability. The radiators, gas lights, floors and fireplaces are incredibly detailed, ready to impress, but the detail hides a lastability that means they still survive. Each fixture and fitting was chosen for their solid nature, good-quality materials, and picked from reputable companies.

Built to impress

The interior was built to impress. As you walk through the front door your eyes are drawn to the Maws & Co. tiled floor that leads you into the Staircase Hall. At this point, your eyes are drawn upwards to the painted glass skylight. A practical feature, bringing light into a windowless room, but designed to impress all that enter.

Built to entertain

Mary Jane added a large dining room and billiard room to Sunnycroft. The dining room of J. G. Wackrill had a bay window added by Mary Jane and the room was turned into a drawing room. In so doing, the house was split into male and female  sections with the men retiring to the billiard room after a meal and the ladies to the drawing room. The intent is clear, this house was designed to entertain.

Nothing was thrown away

The Landers threw nothing away. Sunnycroft today is home to over 8,000 items, left by Joan Lander to the National Trust. These range from knitting needles, to balls of thread, to a set of ice skates. These items fill our drawers, cupboards and storerooms. Most famously is our medicine cabinet, filled with medicines from across the last century, how many brands and labels will you recognise on your visit?

See more of the collection in our seasonal events
Sunnycroft Shropshire Medicine Cabinet filled with medicines past and present
See more of the collection in our seasonal events