Colonel Edward Ansell of Rigby Hall, Bromsgrove, wanted to move to Sutton. He was a wealthy man, a Birmingham alderman and owner of Ansell’s Brewery, and in 1903 he bought Moor Hall.

Moor Hall, with its Regency frontage and fine portico, was vacant at the time, and a correspondent wrote to a newspaper with an account of his visit there. “Father Frank”, as he signed himself, wrote that “some of the rooms are large, but have the air of antiquity hanging about them” and he saw an old oak chair in another room described as Bishop Vesey’s chair - Bishop Vesey, Sutton’s great benefactor, built Moor Hall for himself in 1527. Father Frank knew that the hall was to be sold and the contents auctioned, mentioning the owner as H.C.Hackett, and hoped that many of the antiques would be bought locally. There was a library, where he claimed to have seen a book published in 1452 (printing was invented in 1450), and an old oak-cased grandfather clock made by Fisher of Sutton Coldfield. He saw a pump in the kitchen where the water was collected in an old font said to have been removed from the parish church when Bishop Vesey made his improvements there. Father Frank went on to bemoan the spread of residential development over the green fields of Sutton.

Alderman Ansell demolished the old hall and erected the present building, now Moor Hall Hotel, where he lived with his wife, two of his grown-up children and ten servants. His neighbour at Ashfurlong Hall was Colonel Joseph Henry Wilkinson, chairman of a wholesale drapery company, who was proud of his grounds, employing fourteen gardeners. At the auction of Moor Hall in 1904 Wilkinson admired the portico, with its pillars of the classical Ionic order, and arranged to have it removed to Ashfurlong to adorn his gardens. The portico forms part of the garden room built by Wilkinson, which is now a listed building described as an Ionic Pavilion.

Victorian photo of Moor Hall, showing the portico decorated with garlands.
Moor Hall in 1904 - portico removed (photos courtesy Sutton Reference Library)
Moor Hall portico part of the Ionic pavilion at Ashfurlong Hall (photo Mike Hodder)