History of the Swinfen Hall Hotel in Lichfield Staffordshire


History of the Swinfen Hall Hotel Lichfield Staffordshire

The manor of 'Swynfeyn' is first recorded in the Domesday book of 1086 as belonging to the Bishop of Lichfield, and a manor house has stood on this site since Medieval times. The present Hall was completed in 1757 under the direction of local architect Benjamin Wyatt, the founder of one of the greatest architectural families in English history. The Hall was originally built for Samuel Swinfen, his wife and a domestic staff of 55. Samuel had made a fortune in trade in London and no expense was spared in the building.

The south wing was built in the Edwardian period by Colonel Michael Swinfen Broun. He had married the heiress to the Enos Liver Salts Empire and it was with this money that the work was carried out. An extensive part of the wing is the oak-panelled Ballroom built for his only daughter's 21st birthday After three years of building, she eloped two weeks prior to the event.

The most colourful character among the Swinfen dynasty, was Patience Swinfen, a former parlour maid who had married into the family. In the 1860's she inherited the Hall, but the will was fiercely contested by the rest of the family. Seven long years of litigation followed and Patience became a cause célébre throughout the land, upsetting Victorian conventions that women were subservient, quiet and accepted their situation in life.

The last of the family to live at Swinfen Hall, was Colonel Michael Swinfen Broun who died in 1948 leaving the proceeds of the estate to the Cathedral and city of Lichfield. The surrounding land was subsequently sold and the Manor House stood empty for over thirty years.

We bought the building in January 1987 and after ten months of restoration and refurbishment, opened Swinfen Hall Hotel in December 1987. In 2003 we managed to buy another 95 acres of farmland surrounding the building and set about trying to recreate the historic parkland in an environmentally-responsible manner. We restocked the land with oak, beech and horse-chestnut trees, planted up 400 metres of hedgerows and created wild hay meadows. Our 45-acre wild deer park came into being in November 2004 with the arrival of 2 stags, 12 hinds and 2,000 metres of deer fencing. The herd is now over 80-strong and estate-reared venison is a regular feature on our menus. The Victorian walled garden has also been restored and the kitchen now has an abundant supply of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs throughout the Summer months.

Vic and Helen Wiser