Elston Towers

 

Middleton House or Elston Towers is situated where Lodge Lane joins the Fosse Way, and is now known as Eden Hall Spa. It was built by Robert Middleton in 1872/5.  Middleton was born near Thirsk in Yorkshire in 1814 and died at Elston on 2nd June 1885.  The house was built from stone salvaged from the old Trent Bridge at Newark and its furniture included tables from the Tuileries Palace originally used by Napoleon III.  It was constructed in the Tudor / Gothic style at a cost of nearly £30,000 (£2,100,000 at 2009 values) and contained a Baptist chapel in the centre, complete with organ and baptistery.  There was a tower in the courtyard with 10 bells and a clock which chimed the quarters. A clockwork mechanism operated the bells, which played popular tunes, and was still in working order in 1925.  The clock was removed altogether in the 1960s following a fire. The conservatory at the south end once held 2000 plants and was accidentally destroyed in 1942 together with the clock when a Lancaster bomber exploded on Syerston airfield.  The conservatory was rebuilt in 2005. 

The house has had many varied uses over the years starting as a private house, and being at various times since, a chicken farm, the offices of a water softening firm, of the British Sugar Corporation, of a Rolls Royce motor agents, kennels, an electronics and communications research centre, a maggot breeding factory, the Coeur de Lion restaurant, and now Eden Hall health spa. But overall, it has been unoccupied for longer periods than it was in use.

No :  ET1
Date :  1872-75
Middleton House under construction showing the entire workforce. Far left is Edwin Hunter (1844-1919), the builder, while far right is his father Joseph Hunter (1818-1899). Much of the stone used in the construction was reclaimed from the old Trent Bridge at Newark and brought down river by barge to a wharf at East Stoke. The top of the clock tower was timber.

No :  ET6
Date :  circa 1912
The conservatory once held 2000 plants and was at the south end of the building. It was accidentally destroyed in 1942 together with the clock when a Lancaster bomber exploded on Syerston airfield.

 No :  ET8   
Date :  circa 1912
The main entrance hall led straight to a private chapel complete with sunken baptistery. This picture, kindly loaned by Eden Hall Spa, shows the main hall when it was owned by Joseph Truman. Middleton died in 1885 and his widow on 26 December 1903

No :  ET10  
Date :  circa 1912
The Dining Room. This picture, kindly loaned by Eden Hall Spa, shows the main hall when it was owned by Joseph Truman. Middleton died in 1885 and his widow on 26 December 1903.

 

 

 

 

No :  ET17    
Date :  1920s
Instead of chiming the hours, the bells in the clock tower had a repertoire of 28 popular Victorian melodies such as “Home Sweet Home”, “The Blue Bells of Scotland”, “Oh dear, What can the Matter be ?”, “Rousseau’s Dream,” and “There’s no Luck about the House on a Washing Day.”  The clock played a different tune each day of the week and was made by Gillett and Bland of Surrey. The clock was destroyed when the Lancaster exploded in 1942 and the wooden top of the tower burnt down when the building was a maggot factory.  

 

 

No :  ET19   
Date :  circa 1920
West elevation showing the gardens.

No :  ET30
Date :  1930s
Taken from the top of a Wellingtonia tree in the front garden by an intrepid Bill Midwinter, who lived there as a boy in the 1930s when Elston Towers was a chicken farm.

   

No :  ET45
Date :  1930s
Taken from the top of an apple tree by Bill Midwinter, this picture shows the 30ft by 80ft greenhouse.  When the Towers later became a maggot factory for 20 years the flies laid their eggs on carcasses in the greenhouse. When their egg laying was over, the carcasses were taken out to be burned in the adjacent tower and the blow flies were released from the top lights.  Despite an added steel chimney above the tower to reduce the stench of burning carcasses by releasing it higher into the air, it still allowed the smell to reach Elston as did the blow flies -- described as a little smaller than sparrows.

No :  ET63
Date :  1954 - 1974
A rare picture of Elston Towers when it was a maggot factory for 20 years. It shows the steel extension to the chimney to reduce the stench by releasing it higher into the air. Despite this it still caused the smell to reach Elston as did the blow flies -- described as a little smaller than sparrows - when they were released from the greenhouses after laying their eggs on the carcasses



No :  ET62
Date :  1955
Photograph from the Newark Advertiser of 29 June 1955 showing the first of eight harness-horse meetings at the newly constructed track on the site of the front garden, which had been grubbed up for the purpose. German and Dutch horses attended the event, won by Gala Princess, owned by W Ayres of Chesterfield

 Panoramic view of Eden Hall today

The panorama below shows it at closer quarters than is possible for anyone other than someone who is visiting the spa. 

 Click here to view