Agecroft Hall – From Lancashire to Richmond

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Who would have thought that an old, run-down Elizabethan house in the heart of Lancashire, England would now be situated along the banks of the James River in Richmond, Virginia? Agecroft Hall stands proudly and in many ways calmly in the heart of Virginia, though the steeped history that saw this Tudor residence moved was anything but calm. Added to this history the fact that I am originally from Lancashire, we were both excited about heading to Agecroft Hall to explore the present day grounds.

Despite the horrendous weather which clearly impacted the number of visitors on a cold, November day, we headed to Agecroft Hall with aspirations of learning more about the history of this historic hall. We were even treated to a private guided tour of the house which I have to say really added to the overall experience as we were able to learn more and ask as many questions as we wanted throughout the tour.

agecroft hall

Pulling into the grounds of Agecroft Hall, the first thing you notice is the Tudor architecture on display on the exterior of the hall. The impressive design has been well maintained but only when you hear the full history of the hall will you appreciate the present day condition.

History of Agecroft Hall

Agecroft Hall is the quintessential English home that was originally found in the heart of Lancashire. For those of you not familiar with English geography, Lancashire is located in North West England, not too far from the city of Manchester. Once located on the banks of the River Irwell in Pendlebury, the house was the distinguished home of the Langley and Dauntesey families. Dating back to the original construction in the late 15th Century, Agecroft Hall unfortunately dwindled both in condition and reputation towards the end of the 19th Century.

agecroft hall

Agecroft was finally sold at auction in 1925 and Richmond native, Thomas C. Williams Jr. purchased this structure. Despite mass debates and discussions with Sir. Winston Churchill regarding the movement of an historic house across the pond, Agecroft Hall was dismantled and shipped all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to it’s new home at the present day location.

Agecroft Hall is too much of a jewel to leave in that ruined landscape

It’s crazy to think that a house the magnitude of Agecroft Hall could be broken down piece by piece at the start of the 20th Century and then shipped over 3,000 miles to the States and everything remain intact. An even more impressive feat was the stained glass windows that are now present within the main dining room traveled the distance without breaking.

agecroft hall

After finishing reconstruction of Agecroft, Williams and his wife maintained the 15th and 16th century look of the hall with interior decorations and fine decor. Shortly after finalizing the look of the newly renovated hall, Mr. Williams passed away leaving this to his wife who remarried and they took over the reigns of Agecroft.

Mrs. Williams moved on from Agecroft in her later years but by doing so she fulfilled Mr. Williams wishes to turn this location into a museum for visitors to see how the original owners lived during the Tudor times.

Elizabethan Living at Agecroft Hall

By touring Agecroft Hall, you are taken back to true Elizabethan England as you pass through a variety of rooms and see all of the decor that stereotypes this time in English history. Much of the house remains as the original looked and any renovations and updates that have taken place have used materials and items that would have been present during this timeframe.

agecroft hall

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and provided detailed history throughout each room, along with painting a number of pictures in our minds as to daily life in the 15th and 16th centuries. I probably should have known much more than I did as our guide was reciting an abundance of information, but it was certainly nice to learn more about the history of my home country especially when related to a Lancashire residence not far from where I grew up.

agecroft hall

Visiting Agecroft in November meant that the house was decorated for the holiday season and one room that I was particularly fascinate by was the library which was the only room that was left in the same condition with all the same decor as when Mrs. Williams left this to the museum. The library was decorated with a full Christmas tree and really provided a relaxing atmosphere with the old radio playing seasonal jingles in the background.

agecroft hall

Another cool feature which was recently added to Agecroft by the Museum Trust was a “priest hole” which apparently was a common feature of most Catholic houses during this time period. Without giving too much away, don’t ever forget to check behind book cases because you never know what may be hiding behind them!

After leaving the house, it’s possible to take a tour of the gardens and take a look inside the current day gift shop that provides a selection of memorabilia to remind you of your time at Agecroft Hall. Due to the weather and time of year, we didn’t spend too much time outside and really were not able to explore the apparently gorgeous gardens.

agecroft hall

Summary

Unfortunately photographs were not permitted throughout the house so you are going to have either take our word for it that this is a really cool experience, or even better take a trip to Richmond, Virginia and explore Agecroft Hall yourselves!

I am glad that we took time to explore this historical landmark as I am sure to many people this will be a missed attraction simply because the history of this place most folks cannot directly relate to. However, this is a great spot to learn about English heritage so take a trip and embrace the architectural genius that led to the reconstruction of this site.

Disclaimer – We would like to thank Visit Richmond for providing us with a media pass to visit Agecroft Hall. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post. 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Oooo, you were in my neck of the woods! My sister actually used to work at Agecroft, tending to the gardens. She’s since moved on to work at Disney World’s gardens. 🙂 Agecroft is one of my most favorite things about Richmond!

  2. Fascinating! I knew nothing about Agecroft Hall but it has such an interesting history. I live in Manchester and I’m familiar with the area in Lancashire, but this was entirely new to me. It’s wonderful that the hall is thriving, no matter that it’s not in its original location.

  3. Hi,
    As a child I lived almost in the shadow of Agecroft Hall ( before it was removed from its original site in Pendlebury, Lancashire, England) and spent many happy hours with my friends playing in the grounds of the hall in the surrounding woods (called Oakes Woods) .I remember in the local media, of stories about the Hall being taken to America. Can you tell me please the exact date of the transfer took place
    Many thanks
    John Barton

    • Hi John, thanks so much for commenting on our post! Great to hear that you have so many vivid memories of this location. Of course, my history and relationship with Agecroft relates only because I am a Lancastrian by birth, born and raised in Ramsbottom. The moment I found out about Agecroft being near Richmond, Virginia, I knew this was a spot we had to explore.

      Regarding your question on the specific transfer date…unfortunately I don’t know. It seems that the transfer took place in the late 1920s and reports suggest that by early Spring 1928 the construction of the relocation was complete. I am assuming the shipping of all the pieces of Agecroft likely took several years so this at least gives a pretty good ballpark time as to when all of this transfer took place.

      So cool to hear that you have childhood memories of playing in the grounds of the hall!

  4. I was born and grew up in Worsley, which is near Manchester and Pendlebury, and read about Agecroft in a book about old houses in Virginia. I would be very interested to know of the exact location of the Hall in Pendlebury.. Can anyone help?

    • Hi John,

      Being from NW England myself (grew up in Ramsbottom near Bury), I am too intrigued as to the exact location of where Agecroft Hall stood in Pendlebury. I haven’t honestly done much research into this location but I did just find this information on the British History Online website which may provide a little more information on your question: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol4/pp397-404

      Please let me know if you are able to identify the exact location.

  5. The house had not been occupied since 1904, and was collapsing. The owners tried to find a buyer but when that failed the house was put up for auction in 1926. The contents of the house were sold separately. The present Agecroft Hall is about one third of the original size. A replica of the original house is on display in the exhibition, room.

  6. […] Agecroft Hall, one of the world’s oldest examples of original Tudor architecture, was once part of a larger estate that was established in Lancashire, England in about 1292. This was around three-hundred years before Shakespeare wrote and produced several of the best plays in the English language. Americans have settled on the idea that anything that was built before the American Colonial times, in the 1700’s, is ancient. However, the Agecroft manor house was built on the estate grounds in the fifteenth century. However, it was securely standing in England by 1597, when Shakespeare first wrote and performed his play, The Merchant of Venice. Perhaps the, then, residents of Agecroft made a short carriage ride to London to enjoy the Bard of Avon’s brilliant tragi-comedy. Perhaps Shakespeare also visited Agecroft on a vacation or business trip? Although Shakespeare’s plays have become more and more popular in the last four hundred years, the Agecroft house became run-down and uninhabited by the late nineteenth century. It was subsequently bought at an auction for $19,000 in 1925 by Virginian, Thomas C. Williams, who had it disassembled, crated and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Richmond at the cost of about $250,000. The Law School at the University of Richmond, which is just a few miles west of Agecroft, is now named after Williams. There is no doubt that Williams made a good investment on the property. Although he died after only inhabiting his new property for a year, his wife lived there with her second husband for about forty years. Since 1975, Agecroft Hall has been operated as a museum, as well as a site for Shakespeare plays and other reenactments for literary and historical events from English and early American History. Nearly approaching the one-hundredth year anniversary of its re-resettlement to Virginia, the estate sits now sits on twenty-one acres of valuable and beautiful real estate. See several excellent photographs and a more detailed description of Agecroft at the https://abritandasoutherner.com/agecroft-hall-lancashire-richmond/ website. […]

  7. HI,MY NAME IS PETER GREENER.AND NOW LIVE IN CUMBRIA,ENGLAND. I AM 81 YEARS OLD NOW BUT I LIVED ON AGECROFT ROAD FOR OVER 40 YEARS AND MY PARENTS FOR OVER 50 YEARS.ONE OF THE ENTRANCE LODGES TO THE HALL BECAME A BOARDING KENNELS FOR DOGS !!! THERE WAS A LAKE IN CENTRE OF WHERE THE HALL USED TO BE AND MYSELF AND A PAL ,TREVOR CAMP FELL THROUGH THE ICE AND NEARLY DROWNED.WE WERE OK THOUGH. I REMEMBER JOHN BARTON AND HIS FAMILY FROM WHEN WE WERE KIDS, I LEFT AGECROFT IN 1980 ,1WAS IN CANADA FROM 1974-76,BUT RETURNED.TO AGECROFT ROAD NUMBER 48, PARENTS HOUSE. I HOPE THIS SAGA INTERESTS SOMEBODY, BYE NOW, PETE GREENER.

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