John Derby-Allcroft was a wealthy Victorian merchant whose father (Jeremiah Macklin Allcroft) went into partnership with glovemakers, Messrs J & W Dent & Co. The success of the business enabled both families to invest in large country estates, the Dents at Sudeley in Gloucestershire and the Allcrofts at Stokesay in Shropshire. But in contrast to the Dents, John Derby-Allcroft decided to build a modern house, rather than try to adapt Stokesay Castle which he acquired with the estate.
Allcroft bought the Stokesay estate in 1867 extending it, in 1874, with the purchase of The adjoining Stone House estate. This land contained a medium sized house, but it was not suitable for his large family. He wasn’t able to acquire his chosen site for his new home, which commanded panoramic views of Ludlow and the Clee Hills, until the landowner died in 1886. The house was finally started in 1889, and completed in 1892, six months before John Derby-Allcroft’s death in 1893. The old Stone House (which Allcroft renamed Stokesay Court in the intervening years) was demolished following the completion of the present house. Stokesay Castle remained in the Allcroft family until it passed to English Heritage in 1992 following the death of Jewell Magnus-Allcroft.
Stokesay Court was at the cutting edge of technology for its time. The architect, Thomas Harris, had designed industrial buildings and used this experience to incorporate many modern features. But it is the attention to detail and the magnificence of the architecture (in particular the woodwork) evoking the Victorian era, which catch the visitor’s eye.