Surrounded with smooth, well-kept lawns and with views on all sides of woods and fields, this country house was a pleasant retreat, well suited for recovering patients.
Allesley Hall in Coventry is a country house that has actually spent more years as an institutional facility. Nevertheless, this property was originally an Arts and Crafts house, built in 1909-10 by Harry Quick for William Isaac Iliffe.
William Iliffe (1843-1917) was the head of Iliffe and Sons, printers and publishers and, on his death, was described as ‘one of the most successful businessmen Coventry has ever known’. He was the founder of the Midlands Daily Telegraph newspaper, later known as the Coventry Evening Telegraph. At the time, with World War One drawing to a slow conclusion, the house was being used as a convalescent home.
There is some dispute as to whether the core of Allesley Hall retains some of a previous Queen Anne house (built about 1702-14) that had stood on the site. However, it is more likely that Quick built a completely new building.
‘A dignified modern building with spacious accommodation and in excellent structural condition. The large entrance hall and most of the rooms on the ground floor are panelled in oak. The extensive garden contain some particularly fine cypresses and cedars’.
It passed to Iliffe’s son, Edward Mauger Iliffe (1877-1960), who became 1st Baron Iliffe in 1922, and later MP for Tamworth. It appears that the house was tenanted and its last occupant was Dr John Orton, whose lease expired in 1937.
Edward gifted Allesley Hall to Coventry Corporation in 1937, and it became a convalescent home in connection with Gulson Road Municipal Hospital two years later. Afterwards it became offices for the Parks and Cemeteries Department, but gradually fell out of favour.
In 1988, it was sold to a private developer and opened as a CCHA nursing home in 1990, thus securing its future. There are critics who bemoan the loss of character, with a large extension to the south side.
Today, its former parkland is probably more famous than the house. It was originally a deer park laid out by Henry de Hastings, about five times larger than it is today, and was enclosed around the remains of a Norman castle, now ruined. The parkland is known as Allesley Park and is a popular attraction for the city.