During the early 17th century the Parker family settled into the area of Weston Coyney from their native Derbyshire. The patriarch was George Parker, a man of standing, who built the first Park Hall. His epitaph, in St Peter’s Church at Caverswall, describes him as having ‘perpetual good humour and an agreeable wit to the last.’
During the Civil War George’s eldest son William, who had now inherited the Hall, chose to remain loyal to the king rather than join the growing band of parliamentarian usurpers. Because of this loyalty William found his estate confiscated and himself incarcerated in Stafford Gaol. It was not until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 that he was freed and his estate returned to him.
William appears to have been well-connected. When the Oxford Antiquarian Dr Robert Plot was writing his ‘Natural History of Staffordshire’ in 1686, he met and possibly even stayed with William at Park Hall. Plot described his host as a ‘Worshipful and most obliging gentleman’ and William also accompanied him in his explorations of the immediate area, including showing Plot two powerful watermills.
When William died Park Hall was inherited by his son George. An account book belonging to George for the early 18th century suggests that he was a prosperous yeoman. He owned two farms, one near the Hall itself and another at Forsbrook. One of these he worked himself, while employing William Ford as his bailiff at the other. His farming activities included selling livestock, grain, wool and sheep skins. He regularly travelled to agricultural fairs at Newcastle, Eccleshall, Hilderstone and Lichfield. Occasionally longer journeys were undertaken to Warwick and London.
George was sufficiently prosperous to be able to loan money to relatives and other notably families in the district. The account book also records the purchases of timber and nails for the maintenance of the Hall, as well as occasionally obtaining furnishings such as the screen and stand for the Withdrawing Room.
William’s son Thomas, later Sir Thomas Parker, rose to become Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, a title he held for almost thirty years. It was Sir Thomas that gave the gift of silver plate to St Peter’s Church at Caverswall consisting of a flagon, chalice, paten, and alms dish engraved with the family crest and bearing the inscription ‘The Gift of the Lord Chief Baron Parker to the Parish of Caverswall 1760.’
Sir Thomas had three children – Thomas, George and Martha. Thomas became High Sherriff for Staffordshire, and Martha married Sir John Jervis of Meaford Hall and later became Countess St Vincent. When she died in 1816 it was her wish to be buried in the tomb of her parents in the chancel at St Peter’s. Her husband commissioned a sculpture by Sir Francis Chantrey to adorn her memorial. Links between the Parker and Jervis families were later strengthened when a niece of Martha’s, Mary Anne Parker, married Edward Jervis, Viscount St Vincent.
During 1791 Park Hall was occupied by Sir Thomas’s younger son George. Unfortunately, a prolonged dry spell resulted in a fire that ravaged the Hall to such an extent that it was beyond repair. Temporarily relocating to nearby Rough Cote Hall, George built a new Park Hall. It was this brick-built mansion that survived until 1970 and stood at the western end of the ornamental lake.
The family continued to prosper, with two later members also becoming High Sheriffs during the early 19th century, and with another appointed Admiral of the Fleet. The family continued to occupy the Hall during the early 19th century but by 1870 it had passed through marriage to the Honourable Edward Swynfen Parker-Jervis of Little Aston Hall who leased it to a local JP named Thomas Goddard. During the early 1890s the Hall was in use as a ladies boarding school.
By the 1930s the Hall was standing empty and in 1937 the Parker-Jervis family offered the entire estate, including the Hall, for sale. The catalogue described the stone-flagged entrance hall leading to three reception rooms, all of which had oak floors, and two of which had elaborately carved wooden mantelpieces. Behind these were a cloak room, butler’s pantry and servant’s hall with additional domestic rooms and cellars in the basement. The first floor, accessed by two staircases, led to six bedrooms, three dressing rooms and a bathroom. An additional eight rooms were on the second floor.
The outbuildings included a coach house, cart hovel, wash house, woodshed and tool shed. Another range consisted of stables and piggeries. Standing nearby in the yard was a cottage with a sitting room, kitchen, pantry and two bedrooms. There was also a walled kitchen garden with fruit trees and a large greenhouse. The front terrace was adorned by several small canons. In the grounds, planted with forest trees, was a summer house and the ornamental lake that was fed by a spring in the grounds. The lake also had its own boat house.
One interested party when the estate was offered for sale was Josiah Wedgwood V. This was during the initial stages of relocating the old Etruria factory and it is interesting to note that the 320 acre estate was the same size as the site later purchased at Barlaston. Had this site appeared more favourable then the new Wedgwood factory might have been here rather than at Barlaston.
At the beginning of the Second World War the property was rented by the removal firm Pickfords for the storage of furniture taken from houses in areas considered more liable to bombing. During this time a family by the name of Jackson lived in the cottage behind the Hall and acted as caretakers.
It was Joseph Jackson that acquired the Hall itself and opened the Safari Lake Club and Casino on December 12th 1961. The interior was described as an ‘exotic Noah’s ark with its elephant head, masks of monkeys and a massive five foot bear.’ Illuminated gorilla faces ran around the bar and continuing the theme the club was staffed by hula-hula girls in grass skirts. During its existence acts such as Bert Weeden played at the venue. This continued until 1970 when, just as the first Hall became a casualty of fire, so too did this second one. Park Hall, like so many of Staffordshire’s country houses now lives on in name only.