The south front has a buttressed ashlar plinth, carrying a later two-storey brick facade with an old tiled roof.
To the north side, the house is timber, the box framing being more reminiscent of the Hereford-Worcestershire border country than Derbyshire, where timber frames tend to be much more elaborate. This side faces what was once a farmyard with outbuildings.
Inside, the original plan is hard to recover and is plain, bar three early 17th century chimneypieces with Tudor arches. For very many years it was believed that this house was a remnant of the preceptory of the Hospitallers of St John at Barrow-on-Trent. This suggestion was put forward by Canon JC Cox in the later 19th century because of the mention of a chapel at Arleston in an early 16th century will. But, as other historians have pointed out, Barrow is Barrow and Arleston is Arleston, and the two are unrelated. What the will of William Bothe or Booth mentioned was no doubt a domestic chapel. Arleston was then a somewhat more important house than it became later. It probably started out on a moated site, long since ploughed up, about 800 yards away, under the tenancy of the Toke family, who held the manorial estate under the de Ferrers, Earls of Derby and managed to retain it after their fall in 1267. In 1294, the Crown sold the confiscated lordship to the Bakepuizes of Barton (now Barton Blount) but, by the early 15th century, it had passed to a branch of the Bothe family more popularly associated with Dunham Massey, in Cheshire. They probably pulled down the old moated house and built afresh on the present site. The surviving south front suggests a later build consisting of timber framing on a high stone base, as in the famous drawing of early Tudor Markeaton Hall. The surviving fragments of the massive stone plinth at Markeaton are also heavily buttressed, so a similar date might be reasonably suggested. The surviving portion would have had additional ranges at right angles on either side, one undoubtedly containing the great hall, for there appears to be no sign of such in what remains. Entry to the existing building is now through a much later rather, low key opening, on the north side. Indeed, the house may originally have run right round a courtyard, the north side being stabling and outbuildings.
About 1530, the house and estate were sold to the Beaumonts of Thringston, Leicestershire, who not long afterwards inherited the neighbouring estate of Barrow. Instead of consolidating the two, they sold Arleston around 1542 to Sir Thomas Blount of Blount’s Hall, Burton, a scion of the Blounts of Barton Blount.
There is, however, no further mention of the chapel; had it survived, it would have been recorded by Henry VIII’s snoopers. Probably the space was secularised.
At the time of the hearth tax, the owners were charged 2s (10p) per annum on 12 fireplaces, so it was still a substantial house then, despite Edward Blount, the last of that line of the family, having died about 1640, leaving it to his cousin Sir Henry Blount of Tittenhanger, Berkshire, who sold it to Sir Henry Harpur of Calke Abbey.
The Harpurs at first used it as a residence for younger sons but, later, it was decided to turn it into a farmhouse with the loss of its other ranges.
This had happened by 1718. The cost was £246, to which the tenant, John Buxton, made a contribution of £100.
It was then that the south front was skinned in brick and sash windows (mostly now casements) installed. The roof contains re-used trusses, suggesting that it, too, was rebuilt at this stage.
It stayed a farm on the Calke estate until October 1983 when it was offered for sale by auction, with 10 acres, in the wake of capital transfer tax problems sparked by Charles Harpur-Crewe’s death.
Heritage Gateway Entry
White’s Directory of Derbyshire – 1857
Arleston, four and a half miles S. by W. from Derby, contains two farm and six scattered cottage houses, Sir J. H. Crewe, Bart., is owner. Arleston house, is a very ancient building, supposed to have formerly been a chapel. The front is supported by stone buttresses, and in the interior is a place in which was a bell. On the north side formerly stood a large hall or castle, which was taken down some years ago. The Trent and Mersey canal occupies 8A. 2R. 34P. of land.
The bridge over the Trent and Mersey Canal at Arleston is a fairly modern affair. In the 20th century, the then current occupier of Arleston House (a farm as it was then) reused the old stones from the original bridge to shore up the courtyard he had newly raised from its old level. You can still see the coping stones running along the egde of the courtyard’s retaining wall outside the front door.