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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Unique conservation project begins at Sunnycroft

A unique conservation project has begun at Sunnycroft, the National Trust property in Wellignton.

The Halliday Conservatory at Sunnycroft. Photo: NT/Jayne Gough
The Halliday Conservatory at Sunnycroft. Photo: NT/Jayne Gough

Tucked away on the edge of the town, Sunnycroft is a rare suburban villa and estate in miniature. Built in 1880, most of Sunnycroft’s original features and much of its original contents remain and it is a rare example of its type.

In the garden at Sunnycroft stands a very special conservatory. Dating to 1899 it is one of only two known examples of its kind still standing, built by R Halliday & Co. No ordinary glasshouse, this conservatory – a garden room – is fully intact with impressive original and decorative features and is grade II listed in its own right.  

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Over recent years the team at Sunnycroft have been raising funds to conserve and restore this special building and thanks to generous donations from visitors, supporters, and legacies the project is now underway. Fundraising continues for the project, and visitors to Sunnycroft can make a donation when they visit, or make a donation online.

Lou Hall, Site Manager for Sunnycroft said; “We’re delighted the project is underway and we are hugely grateful to everyone who has supported us in raising funds to do so. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the project – from buying pin badges on a visit, to supporters who have left legacies in their wills, and to donations from talks to groups in our local community about the Halliday. Thank you!”

The aspirational owner of Sunnycroft at the time of the conservatory’s construction was Mary J Slaney. Created at the turn of the Victorian –Edwardian periods, the Halliday conservatory would have been a state of the art horticultural as well as architectural masterpiece, a statement of great pride for Mrs Slaney who grew prize-winning exotic ferns.

It is highly likely that the ferns would have been produced in the high-status Halliday Conservatory. She is listed as a member of the Shropshire Horticultural Society in 1906 and programmes for the Royal Agricultural Society’s (Shrewsbury) show and Shrewsbury Flower Show of 1914 are in Sunnycroft’s archive.

Mrs Slaney’s gardener Mr Stevenson regularly displayed and won first and second prizes for exotic ferns in August each year at the Shropshire Horticultural Association Show, as recorded in the Gardener’s Chronicle in 1894, 1897, 1900, 1901 and 1906.

The conservation work will be taking place in situ at Sunnycroft, as well as offsite in specialist craft workshops and is expected to be completed in early September.

The garden at Sunnycroft is open to pre-booked visitors on Sundays and Mondays until Sunday 6 June. Admission is free for National Trust members and non-members pay an admission fee at time of booking.

Tickets can be booked online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sunnycroft or by calling 03442 491895. Sunnycroft will be closed to visitors from Monday 7 June while the team plan and prepare the house and garden for the summer openings from Saturday 3 July to the end of August.

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