Hayes Lodge, an early eighteenth century prospect tower and summerhouse, was built for Zacchary Babington on a rocky wooded outcrop overlooking the River Trent. Around 1760 it was extended to form a dwelling, in which use it continued until the mid 1990s, by which time it had become a distinguished, if isolated, residence, its outward appearance essentially unchanged from that recorded on a watercolour of 1786 in the William Salt Library in Stafford. Remarkably, the building had never been assessed for listing, possibly because of its isolation. Left empty and neglected by its owners, Tarmac, it feel victim to vandalism and this summer Lichfield District Council began moves to have it demolished.
Local campaigners, aided by the Group and others, tried to save it and secured a speedy assessment from English Heritage’s listing team.
Sadly, vandalism had taken its toll to the point where the building was not deemed to be of listable quality; its fate was therefore sealed. The Landmark Trust and kindred bodies have proved that buildings like this can be successfully adapted for other uses and it is depressing that losses such as this occur even today. Historic garden and park structures on the former estates of demolished country houses remain a threatened and under-protected category of buildings, as do the designed landscapes in which they sit. If readers know of other threatened examples we would be keen to hear from them.