Acton Hall


Acton Hall

Acton Hall in Wrexham, Wales was the birthplace of George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, PC (May 15, 1645 – April 18, 1689), better known as Judge Jefferies or "The Hanging Judge", became notorious during the reign of King James II, rising to the position of Lord Chancellor (and serving as Lord High Steward in certain instances).

Sir Griffith Jeffreys rebuilt the family home between 1687 - 1695. His wife Dame Dorothy set up a charity in her will which helped found many of the first schools in Wrexham. After the Jeffreys the house belonged to Philip Egerton and then Ellis Yonge before being purchased by Sir Foster Cunliffe for £27,000.

Later generations did little to improve the property. The 4th Baronet stuccoed the walls of the house, while the 5th Baronet faced it with stone in such a way that the house seemed to be of three different styles - none matching the other.

In 1917 Acton Park was bought by Sir Bernard Oppenheimer. The Denbighshire Hussars were still billeted in the house and grounds. Oppenheimer opened a diamond cutting training school and workshop in the grounds of Acton Park. The scheme was designed to ensure jobs for ex-servicemen. It was the 'Homes Fit For Heroes' ethos in action, but Sir Bernard's untimely death in 1921 led to the workshop closing.

Nine Acre Field and sixty acres by Rhosnesni Lane were bought by the Borough Council. Patrick Abercrombie was commissioned to design a quality housing scheme for the sixty acres. Building started in 1921. Abercrombies design survives to this day. The rest of the estate was turned into small holdings for ex-soldiers. There were seven market garden and four dairy holdings.

William Aston purchased the house and grounds on the death of Sir Bernard. His initial plan to turn the hall into a technical school never took off. Instead the hall became a showroom and store for Aston's furniture company. The grounds were opened to the public.

In 1939 the War Office requisitioned Acton Park. Nissen huts were erected in the ground for the soldiers. The officers were billeted in the house. The Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the South Wales Borderers and the Gurkhas were just a few of the regiments who stayed at Acton during the Second World War.

In 1943 the 33rd Signals Construction Battalion and 400th Armoured Field Artillery Battalion were billeted at Acton Park. Wrexham was host to men from Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana. Eagles Meadow became their vehicle store, the Butter Market their canteen, Acton School Hall the venue for their dances and chewing gum was sold at the US Army store in Garden Village. The US Army was still segregated. Black soldiers were billeted at 'The Studio' by the junction of Chester Road and Grove Road.

The house just survived the US Army, but in a very poor state. The north wing was demolished just after the war. People plundered the park for firewood in the tough years of rationing in 1945-47. By 1954 the house was an eyesore. Alderman Hampson campaigned for the house to be saved as the town's museum. He failed and the demolition team set to work in August 1954.

Nothing now remains of the house. A new housing development along Herbert Jennings Avenue was built over much of the park, while the remainder was saved as a green space for the people of

External links

* [http://www.wrexham-connection.co.uk/old3.jpgPhoto of Acton Hall]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northeast/guides/halloffame/historical/judge_george_jeffreys.shtml BBC on Judge Jeffreys]


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