"A part of
the World Heritage Site Ironbridge Gorge"
Coalbrookdales' Ironmasters were primarily
Quakers and the Darby family was no exception. The Darby Houses are made up of
two houses, Rosehill House and Dale House which were home to the Darby family
for many years.
For 5 generations the Darby family managed the
Coalbrookdale Ironworks and were an important part of this community. Other
Quaker families became involved by marriage such as the Ford and Reynolds
families, who also played an important role in the history of this area.
Access is from the Museum of Iron car park,
under the railway arches and at the road on the left-hand side, you will see a
narrow path going upwards and signs which are not always that clear. Walk up
this path and you will see two houses a red-bricked house, Dale House and one
with a cream exterior, Rosehill. From their doorsteps looking back across the
gorge you will see below the restored Furnace Pool which once helped to power
the Ironworks, but today looks like a large pond. Behind the houses is the
House was built in about 1738 for Richard Ford. Today it has been restored
to show it as it was around 1850. It contains many items which were owned by
the Darby family, over the generations. In the mid 19th Century the house
was occupied by Abraham III's youngest son Richard and his wife Maria. After
Richard's death in 1860, his daughter Rebecca continued to live in the house
until she died in 1908.
Ford was Clerk to the Coalbrookdale Company under Abraham I, and was later
Manager of the Coalbrookdale Ironworks. He married Abraham Darby I's eldest
daughter, Mary and became part of the Darby dynasty. The Darby family, who
were Quakers, lived more simple lives than the typical mid-Victorians and
Rosehill was very simply furnished. In 1851 there were only 4 servants, who
were shared between Rosehill and Dale House. In a normal Victoria household,
two houses would have required at least 12 for houses of this size.
On a RoseHill visit. It is not a guided tour
and therefore you can wander at your leisure, depending on the number of
visitors around the house. You enter the building via the main door and enter
into a large hall with a staircase off to your left. In the hallway there are
portraits of Richard and Maria Darby, who lived in the house in the 19th
century. Before going off upstairs there are two rooms to explore, the one on
your left is the Study which has a portrait of Francis Darby over the fireplace.
In 1850 the house would have been lit by oil and candles. Opposite the room is
set out as a dining room where the family would have eaten supper and
|Going upstairs, there are some interesting
paintings as sculptures on the walls and landing and two rooms have been set up
to represent the bedroom and the Parlour. The bedroom is furnished as it it was
occupied by one of the daughters, the bed is a reproduction iron bed of an 1835
design, there are also some Coalport porcelain dating from the 1840's in the
room such as a candlestick and ring stand. The second room is the Day Parlour
which would have been used by the ladies of the house to entertain guests after
a meal, or to carry out activities such as reading, needlework and drawing.
Other rooms on this level and on the first level are set up as exhibition rooms
showing Quaker books, family papers, family memorabilia, ivory toys, beadwork
purses, Quaker costumes and more.
Going down a separate staircase from the first
you come down into the kitchen. This large kitchen was added in 1810 and the
large range which is the centrepiece of the room dates from this same period. It
has a large oven, a hot water thank and additional small fireboxes for heating
the hobs. This is a large room and off of here there would have been a separate
scullery and pantry rooms. From here you make your way back towards the entrance
going through the China Display Room which contains another small range. This
would have been the original kitchen but when the large kitchen was built this
would have become the breakfast room. However it was converted back to a small
kitchen when occupied by Rebecca as she found the larger kitchen and range was
more than she needed and wanted something smaller. Today it houses cabinets and
displays of a vast array of china owned by the Darby family.
Rebecca's Bedroom and Bed
Built by Abraham Darby I and originally completed in 1717,
however it was updated and enlarged by further generations. It was built to
overlook the Upper Furnace Pool and its blast furnace, and was the place
where hospitality was extended to visitors to both the family and the
ironworks by the Darby family. Abraham Darby III enlarged the house between
1768 and 1776 converting the attic area into a third floor and it is to this
period that the house and garden have been restored. During the 20th century
it was converted to flats and this almost destroyed the original character
of the building.
On a visit today after some sympathetic restoration you get
Main Hall, Study where he oversaw the building of the Iron Bridge
parlour where you can browse through books, documents and historic images
and discover more about the history of the ironworks
room which has been restored to its former floor plan but has not been
totally renovated so that you can see the vaulted cellar which runs
underneath the house.
Allow 30 minutes to an hour for your visit.
These houses are not always available for inspection inside as they rely on how
many volunteers are available to open and supervise visitors on the day you
visit. On the day I visited you could only look around Dale House.
A view over the restored Furnace Pool
The Annual Passport.
The Ironbridge Museums
operate an Annual Ticket and Passport where for one price you can get access to
all 10 of their sites with unlimited day time access during normal opening
hours, so you can return as often as you like for a whole year. If after
12 months you have still not visited particular sites, you can return at any
time in the future to make one free visit to the sites that you've missed. These
tickets are sold at all the museums and the visitor information centre in Ironbridge itself or you can buy them in advance by phone. The
2009 prices for the Passport tickets are:
£19.95; 60+ £15.95; Child £12.95 or a family ticket for 2A up to
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