was isn't known so widely is that General Lee's family came from
Shropshire, and the family home still exists.
500 years, the Lee family owned a sizeable chunk of the county in
the parish of Alveley, near Bridgnorth.
view of the building
family, originally-named de la Lee and probably of Norman descent,
lived in Coton Hall from the 1300s onwards.
it's only because the present-day Coton Hall has recently come up
for sale that the Lees of Shropshire have come to light again.
day Coton Hall was built soon after 1800 for Harry Lancelot Lee,
in the Georgian style. At the time the estate ran to 5,000 acres.
Robert E. Lee
the present building is only some 200 years old, the Lee family's
connections with the land go back 1,000 years. The previous building
on the site was also called Coton Hall - and it was from here that
Robert E. Lee's ancestors left for America in the 1600s.
originally went there to trade, and one or two returned to England
after a few years, but one branch forged new lives for themselves
in the young country, acquiring land and power.
of them, Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee, were the only
brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Robert E. Lee's father was 'Light Horse Harry' Lee, a famous soldier
of the American War of Independence, where he was known for his
courage in fighting the British.
by a bizarre paradox, he may well have been reponsible for the deaths
of soldiers from Shropshire - elements of the 53rd Regiment, which
later became the Shropshire Regiment, were all but wiped out and
the remainder captured at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777.
Horse Harry resigned from the army as soon as the British were defeated,
and settled down to raise the family that included the young general.
E. Lee went into military college at West Point and became a career
soldier in the U.S. Army. But when the American Civil War broke
out, he sided with the Confederate states, as his home state of
Virginia was one of them.
four years of war it was Lee who signed the surrender, and then
did his utmost to embrace the new United States until his death
Lee is perceived as an American hero, and not just an icon for Virginia
or the southern states whose troops he led.
according to the current owners of Coton Hall, several of Lee's
descendents have been to visit and cast their eye over the ancestral
little remains of the house that Robert E. Lee's ancestors would
the grounds of Coton Hall is one of the last remnants of the early
buildings - the ruins of a chapel that probably dates from the 13th
it's underground where the strongest traces of the old Coton Hall
remain. The house's cellar is two storeys deep and in the lower
of the two levels includes the entrance to a tunnel.
to the estate agent FPD Savills, the tunnel runs all the way to
Alveley village two miles away, although it's been concreted off
beyond the chapel for safety reasons.
Hall passed out of the Lee family when Harry Lancelot Lee died in
1821 and the house was immediately sold, ending the Lees' long association
with this part of the world. In 1878 the chapel roof collapsed and
all the Lee monuments were moved to Alveley church.
house itself was extended in about 1860, when a new wing and an
Italianate tower were added, but apart from that the house has survived
remarkably well - all the fireplaces and cornices are original,
if you're thinking of buying it, this house may make a considerable
hole in your pocket. It, including the 6.5 acres of land it stands
in, is currently on sale with a guide price of £1.25 million.