Acklam Hall (circa 1683) is Middlesbrough’s only Grade I listed building. It was built in a Dutch Palladian style for Sir William Hustler (c.1658-1730) and has a number of beautiful architectural features. The hall is particularly noted for its heavily ornamented ceilings (similar to Holyrood Palace) which may have been done by the same craftsmen Halbert and/or Dunserfield as they came from south Edinburgh (c.1680), original painted pine open well staircase with ball & artichoke finials. Acklam Hall was given listed building status in 1951.
Politically William Hustler was a Whig, who in 1702 was elected to sit for Ripon. He was responsible for establishing a number of charity schools in Wakefield and is regarded as one of the great patrons of such schools during this period. William Hustler died at Acklam on 20 August 1730, leaving Acklam Hall and the magnificent grounds to his wife. He was described in the Daily Post as ‘a gentleman of an unblemished character, and whose loss is extremely lamented by his county, to which he had retired some years before his death’.
The land surrounding the hall is of historical significance and interest. Not only is the Avenue of Trees part of the original 17th century formal gardens of Acklam Hall, the land to the North of the hall is where evidence of a medieval moat (10 meters deep) and a medieval village are located. The land on which the manor was built and its surrounding grounds are also mentioned in the Domesday Book. The monks of Whitby Abbey had maintained a property there, which after the Dissolution, had fallen into disrepair.
It is often hard to imagine that anything came before Bolckow & Vaughan discovered Iron Ore in Eston Hills. Middlesbrough became a product of Victorian enterprise, “an infant Hercules” and began to thrive and develop rapidly as a town. Its population growing from 25 people in 1801 to 90,000 by 1901. Acklam Hall and its grounds offer a rare glimpse into what it may have been like to live in Middlesbrough before industrialisation of the town. For the community of Acklam, the hall and its grounds have always been a little piece of calm in an otherwise hectic world.