Mary Jane Slaney: A story of taste and aspiration
In 1899 an ambitious lady, named Mary Jane Slaney, purchased Sunnycroft house and surrounding land. Mrs Slaney was a successful business woman and mother, she had been widowed twice but continued to ensure a happy home for her family and those who worked for her. Sunnycroft is her ideal home, a place very much loved and enjoyed, then and now.
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.
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
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.