Tixall Gatehouse

Near Stafford, Staffordshire - Sleeps 4+2

About this Landmark

This spectacular gatehouse is a fine example of Elizabethan architecture, one of the best of its time. It has long outlasted the great house it once served.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • ShowerShower
  • Table Tennis TableTable Tennis Table

Beds 2 Single, 1 Twin, 1 Double

  • Sleeps 4 +2
  • 4 nights from £449
  • equivalent to £18.71 per person, per night

‘One of the fairest pieces of work…in all these counties’

Tixall Gatehouse was built in about 1580 by Sir Walter Aston to stand in front of an older house. It is a delightful example of the Elizabethans’ uninhibited assimilation of Classical elements into the English style before Palladianism took hold. The main house and a successor, built in 1780, have now disappeared but the gatehouse still survives and is surrounded by grass. It was described in 1598 as ‘one of the fairest pieces of work made of late times in all these counties’ and, more recently, as ‘an Elizabethan ruin, without roof, floors or windows, used as a shelter for cattle’. To be on the roof terrace, its weather vanes re-coated with gold leaf in 2012, is a majestic experience.

Voluptuous ladies disguised as angels

The gatehouse was in a sorry state until we bought it for £300 in 1968. On its first floor we made five large rooms, one of them a gallery with an oriel window at each end above the two archways. In the spandrels of these archways are, facing the outside world, armed warriors; and on the inside, voluptuous ladies thinly disguised as angels. Mary Queen of Scots, was imprisoned at Tixall for two weeks in 1586 and her son James I came here once for two days. In 1678 the Aston of the day was sent briefly to the Tower, accused of a part in the Titus Oates conspiracy. A century later his descendant Thomas Clifford, guided by ‘the celebrated Brown’ and his pupil Eames, ingeniously made use of a new canal to form a lake in his park, known to boaters as Tixall Wide. The roof is paved with stone and to be high up here among the balustrades and turret tops with an Arcadian landscape on every side is highly recommended.

Floor Plans

‘I went up onto the roof to watch the stars coming out.’

‘The kids loved the ping pong on the top floor and the adults loved it when they were up there.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Tixall Gatehouse is set in historic parkland next to the stretch of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal known as Tixall Wide. Explore this local area on foot with a circular walk  that covers many places of interest.  

 The Ancient High House, on the main street of the nearby county town of Stafford, is reputedly one of the finest Tudor buildings in the country. Take a short walk from the town to discover its castle, where the annual Stafford Festival Shakespeare is staged. 

 Cannock Chase provides an exhilarating day out for all. Woodland walks, bike trails and adventure play areas are just some of the activities on offer.

 Shugborough Estate is a fascinating and rare example of an estate that has survived intact. Watch costumed characters at work, demonstrating what life was like there in the past.

For more information on things to do during your stay at Tixall Gatehouse, please see our Pinterest page. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.  

Tixall Gatehouse
Near Stafford, Staffordshire - Sleeps 4+2
Clear directions

‘I went up onto the roof to watch the stars coming out.’

‘The kids loved the ping pong on the top floor and the adults loved it when they were up there.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a driveway from the main road.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Stafford – 5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is parking for two cars inside the fence adjacent to the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is an oil-fired central heating system.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker and a microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, one with a free-standing shower unit and one with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep, spiral and narrow.
  • Can I access the roof?

    Yes,  but we would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children and dogs are supervised when on the roof.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes, this property and particularly the single bedrooms are difficult to heat in winter.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is a small fenced garden around the property.

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Tixall Gatehouse had stood abandoned

When Tixall Gatehouse was acquired in 1968 by the Landmark Trust, it was definitely a building at risk. Following the demolition of Tixall Hall in 1927 it had stood abandoned. Its roof, floors and windows had gone, and there was a danger that the walls too would soon begin to fall.

The earliest description of Tixall Gatehouse can be found in Erdeswick's Survey of Staffordshire of 1598. The author describes how Sir Walter Aston had 'beautified, or defaced (I know not which to say)' the fair house built by his father, Sir Edward, by adding directly in front of it 'a very goodly gate house of stone ...being one of the fairest pieces of work made of late times, that I have seen in all these countries'. According to his descendant, Sir Thomas Clifford, he did this in about 1580.

Old Tixall Hall itself, which dated from 1555, was a typical mixture of stone and timber-framing, such as might have been built at any time in the previous hundred years. The Gatehouse, on the other hand, was an example of the latest fashion in architecture, being richly decorated with Classical ornament, as learned from the Continent but used with that uninhibited Mannerist exuberance that was unique to England. There is a brave, but not quite textbook, attempt at the Classical orders on each main elevation. In the spandrels above the archway, armed warriors face the outside world while curvaceous ladies thinly disguised as angels watched over the inner courts. The quality of the carving is extremely high.

We have no record of how the Gatehouse was divided inside, nor of its use. Two original fireplaces survive on the first floor so there must have been at least two rooms here with cIosets opening off them in the corner turrets. These may have served as lodgings for guestsor for an important household official such as the Steward. The roof terrace may have served as a platform from which to watch the hunt in the surrounding deer park. The main function of the Gatehouse, however, was simply to impress, to show off the wealth and power of its owner.

The Astons were an old and respected Staffordshire family. They had lived at Haywood since the 1200s, but acquired Tixall by marriage in 1507 and with the building of a new house there it became their home. Under Sir Walter Aston it was also involved in one of the chief historical dramas of the day. Sir Walter, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and served her as Sheriff of Staffordshire and Justice of the Peace, was a staunch Protestant and keen prosecutor of Catholics. As such, his house was a safe choice when, following the discovery of the Babington Plot in September 1585, it was felt necessary to remove Mary Queen of Scots from her prison at Chartley for a short time. She spent two weeks at Tixall before returning to Chartley.

Ironically Sir Walter's grandson, another Walter, became a Catholic himself. He was ambassador to Spain under James I and Charles I, who made him a Baron. He and his son William lived in great style at Tixall. They entertained lavishly and were keen patrons of the arts and literature. But times were still dangerous for Catholics: in 1679 Lord Aston was imprisoned in the Tower of London after being accused of involvement in the Titus Oates conspiracy, a supposed Catholic plot against the life of Charles II which led to the execution of a number of Catholics but turned out to have been largely fabricated by Oates, a clergyman who had pretended to join the Jesuits.

In 1751 the 5th Lord Aston died aged 28 leaving two small daughters. Tixall Hall was left empty for many years and when the younger daughter, Barbara, and her husband Thomas Clifford, came to live there in 1768, was all but derelict. They pulled down the Tudor house and while living in a Georgian addition to it began work on a completely new house. This was built not on the site of the old one, however, but further to the east, where its outlook was not blocked by the Gatehouse. As a result the Gatehouse now became an ornamental building in a park landscaped by Capability Brown and William Emes.

Thomas and Barbara Clifford left Tixall to their eldest son, another Thomas, who was made a baronet in 1815. He completed his parents' work, employing Samual Wyatt to decorate the new Hall. A scholar and a poet he also, with his brother Arthur, wrote a history of Tixall. His descriptions of his home, of which he was deeply fond, can also be read as a form of epitaph, since in 1821 he inherited another great estate, Burton Constable in Yorkshire. His son, a second Sir Thomas, decided to live there and put Tixall up for sale in 1833. It was bought in 1845 by his neighbour, Lord Talbot of Ingestre.

Lord Talbot let Tixall to a series of tenants. His son, the Earl of Shrewsbury, lived there briefly while Ingestre was rebuilt after a fire in 1882. Thereafter it was once again rented outor left empty until in 1927 it was demolished. Just the Gatehouse and the Cliffords' unusual semi-circular stable block survive to remind us of a long and interesting history.

A picturesque ruin since the 18th century

The Gatehouse had been little more than a picturesque ruin since the 18th century. Repairs to the stonework were carried out by a local mason, Richard Trubshaw of Great Haywood, in 1721. Sir Thomas Clifford may have given it a new roof a century later, but by then it had long been uninhabitable. This roof, in turn, fell in during the 1950s.

Some work to stabilise the Gatehouse as a ruin was carried out in 1960, but this could only be a temporary solution - buildings seldom survive intact for long as roofless shells under attack inside and out from the elements. It was thus with some relief that the Shrewsbury estate greeted Landmark's offer to take it on in 1968.

It took some years to raise funds to pay for the restoration and to draw up plans and have them agreed by the relevant authorities, but work finally began in 1975. The architect was Lawrence Bond, who was working on the conversion of the Stables at the same time. The work was divided into two distinct parts: the repairs, mainly to the eroded exterior stonework and the creation of a new dwelling inside.

For the stonework repairs a local mason, Mr Walker, was employed. The work took him two years and was carried out with immense skill. As little as possible of the old work was renewed. The original stone came from a quarry nearby, long overgrown. Luckily some large blocks had been used to close ground floor windows in the last century. These were now reopened, so Mr Walker was able to salvage this surplus stone for sections where decay, or damage from the rusted iron cramps of earlier repairs, made renewal unavoidable. All new stonework is fixed with bronze and resin. Meanwhile new floor and roof structures of steel and concrete had been inserted into old beam pockets in the walls enabling them to be placed at the correct height. The new roof was paved in York stone, to give a durable surface.

This being the time of Dutch Elm disease, elm was used for new floorboards and panelling. New doors were hung on old hinge pins and 95 new iron casements were made, with 223 glazed and leaded lights.

The restoration was completed in 1977 with the renewal of gilded weather vanes on the turrets. One turret had contained a faceless clock, whose workings were also renewed, but whose original bell still strikes the passing hours.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.