Mary Jane Slaney: A story of taste and aspiration

Sunnycroft

On your visit to Sunnycroft this year you will discover the story of Mary Jane Slaney. In 1899 this ambitious Victorian lady purchased the house and surrounding land. You can find out more by looking around the house, talking to our guides, or joining in on one of our talks or tours.

Mrs Slaney had house extensively remodelled, commissioning the original builder, Alfred Roper, to complete the work. A new much larger entrance was constructed, a grand staircase built in the centre of the house, and a new wing added which included a billiard room and additional guest accommodation above. Her choice of interior design and decoration was heavily influenced by the latest fashions of the Victorian period and included the best quality materials as well as the latest in technology such as a bathroom, hot water and central heating.

A skylight designed to be practical and to impress, feel your eyes swept upwards
Sunnycroft staircase hall skylight
A skylight designed to be practical and to impress, feel your eyes swept upwards

An estate in miniature

Mrs Slaney aspired to have a home, garden and estate that had all the essential features of the much larger grand estates of the time, but much smaller in scale. She added a lodge at the top of the drive, a coach house and stables, kennels, glasshouses and an impressive conservatory.

The five acre garden today is half of its original size yet it retains all of the key of a Victorian garden and grounds such as a paddock, orchard, and formal rose garden as well as herbaceous borders.

While you are here you can challenge friends and family to a game of croquet on the lawn, or why not try other favourite Victorian pastimes of quoits or skittles. The lawn is a great place to set up a picnic and while away an afternoon.

Conserving the conservatory

Sunnycroft Halliday glasshouse
Sunnycroft Halliday glasshouse
Sunnycroft Halliday glasshouse

The centre piece of the formal rose garden is a Halliday conservatory. Built in 1900, it is one of only three known Halliday structures; it is a rare example of Victorian engineering and design. This year we are fundraising for its restoration, there are lots of ways you can get involved, from buying a raffle ticket on site, to joining our sponsored guided walk up The Wrekin in August.