Thursday, 13 January 2022

Trust in Me - Revisiting Shugborough


Yesterday, we returned to the Shugborough Estate in the neighbouring county of Staffordshire, a half-hour drive from home for another winter walk.


The house is closed until the Spring but the grounds are open every day.


Best known as the ancestral home of Patrick, Earl of Lichfield, the celebrated British society photographer, Shugborough Hall is built on the site of a moated medieval bishop's castle. The castle was bought by the wealthy Anson family in 1624 for £4,000 (a fortune at the time) but was torn down in 1693 to create a more modest country house. The building was enlarged in 1745 by architect Thomas Wright to create the elegant Georgian mansion that stands today.

Patrick Anson, 5th Earl of Lichfield 1929 - 2005

Thomas Anson (1695 - 1773), great-grandson of the original owner, inherited the Shugborough Estate in 1762 from his brother, George who had died heirless. George Anson joined the navy as a 14 year-old boy and rose through the ranks to become the First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1740 he commenced an epic 4-year voyage circumnavigating the world. On the journey, he captured a Spanish treasure ship laden with £400,000, the largest haul ever seized by an English sea captain. 

The recently restored Tower of the Winds, a replica of Horologion of Andronikos Kyrrhestes in Athens (built in 1765)


Thomas had been on the Grand Tour as a young man where he'd developed a passion for classical Greek art and commissioned his friend, the architect James Stuart, to reproduce classical monuments in the grounds of Shugborough.

 

Designed by Thomas Wright in 1750 as a folly, The Ruin was once more extensive, was composed of parts of the original manor house and included a Gothic pigeon house. 



After Thomas's death, the family fortune leaked through the hands of his grandson, also called Thomas (1795 - 1854), who gambled his vast inheritance away. In 1842 the contents of the estate was auctioned to raise funds. In 1960, in lieu of his grandfather's death duties, the 5th Earl, Patrick Lichfield, gave the Shugborough estate to the National Trust. For many years it was looked after by Staffordshire County Council until the National Trust took over the administration in 2019.

The estate is still occupied by the Earls of Lichfield and has a working farm and several varieties of rare breeds of livestock.

Our favourites are these teddy bear-faced sheep. They aren't at all bothered by visitors, as you can see.









The design for the Chinese House was taken from sketches made in Canton by Sir Percy Brett, who accompanied Admiral Anson during his circumnavigation of the globe. It was completed in 1747, making it one of the earliest examples of oriental design in the country and a precursor to the Chinese Pavilion at Kew.



Yesterday was another perfect winter's day, crisp and icy cold with temperatures hovering at -2°C and the sunshine so bright we needed sunglasses. Several people stopped and admired my outfit.


 



This swan and his mate accompanied us on our stroll along the riverbank.



Spooky mist!




Built in the late 1750s, the Shepherd’s Monument takes its name from its central marble relief by Dutch artist Peter Scheemakers and originally formed part of the kitchen garden wall. The outer columns of the monument were added later, in 1763 by James Stuart.




What we hadn't done on previous visits was to climb up to Hadrian's Arch, almost identical to the one found in Athens and built in the early 1760s by James Stewart as a memorial for Thomas Anson's late brother George and his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Yorke.



Amongst the ancient graffiti carved on the stone, we were astonished to discover the signature of a J Beavis, who visited the arch on exactly the same day as us, one-hundred and twenty-three years earlier, what a bizarre coincidence!





We stood transfixed by the antics of the deer in the field below us. 



After a couple of hours of wandering about, we returned to Patrice for a car picnic of cheese sandwiches and tin mugs of tea with 6Music for company....the perfect day.

See you soon!

PS We became members of the National Trust in 2016 and pay £10 a month via Direct Debit giving us free entry (and parking) to over 500 properties (join HERE). Non-Brits, if you're thinking of visiting the UK you can buy a one or two-week tourist pass from the National Trust (info HERE).


38 comments:

  1. I know I keep banging on about it [like that's ever stopped me!], but a sunny day in a British winter really does need to be treasured. Look at the colour of that sky against the fabulous things you saw at Shrugborough. That's a mighty fine folly. Arilx

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    1. Yay! You're back online!
      You're right, these rare sunny skies are just wonderful, balm for the soul - and great for photos! xxx

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  2. I can't get over that Spanish haul - £400,000 is a fortune now! Love the spooky mist and the teddy bear sheep - talking of which, there's always one black sheep who gambles away the family inheritance isn't there? Brilliant photos of the deer and yes, that is an amazing coincidence to find that J Beavis was 'ere first! xxx PS I do love your yellow boots.

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    1. I know, it's hard to get your head around that much money, isn't it?
      The teddy bear sheep and the deer didn't seem at all bothered by all the humans wandering around, a bit like Attingham!
      Those yellow wellies are certainly earning their keep! xxx

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  3. Imagine gambling away something like this. What a beautiful estate...I love that sculpture places on a stone wall....Even if the house is closed at the moment, there's plenty to see outside. The garden is beautiful...and there is even a Chinese garden that dates back to 18 century.
    That photograph of a teddy bear faced sheep is precious. It is what I didn't know I needed to see. Utterly adorable. The swans are looking very graceful...and what are the deer doing? It's not the mating season yet...or maybe they are (like flowers) confused by the sunny weather?

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    1. I know! Like Claire says, there always seems to be a black sheep in these wealthy, priviledged familes who end up blowing all the cash.
      I'm not sure what the deer were up to either, it feels far too early for them to strat mating.
      In the few years we've been visiting we've never been inside the house, I can't wait until it's finally open to the public, I can't wait to see what's left of the treasures brought back from the Grand Tour. xxx

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  4. What a beautiful day, even if it was cold. Those sheep are unlike anything I've seen. Not a breed I'm familiar with.

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    1. Apparently they're Southdown Sheep, developed in the 18th Century and originating from native sheep, as tough as old boots.
      It was such a gorgeous day, it's impossible to dislike winter with days like these! xxx

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  5. It sure look like a nice day for a walk. I honestly don't know what I like best in the visit. Your country has a lot longer history than mine.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

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    1. It was a beautiful day for a walk, the lake was like a mirror. xxx

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  6. you look lovely in those colours and cosy in your hat. very brave to venture out in yesterdays temps. shocking to read about previous owners squandering the family fortunes but good news for us lot that the National Trust have taken custody.

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    1. Thanks, Betty! Hope the healing's going well! It wasn't too bad after we started walking, Jon had to dash back to the car to deposit one of his layers at one point!
      Thank goodness for the National Trust, I bet so many of those grand houses would have been sold off to developers if housing estates had been a thing back then! xxx

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  7. Another beautiful day out with lovely blue skies. Your photographs get better and better Vix.
    I do love a folly. We recently saw Alan Titchmarsh create one in a sensory garden for a youngster at the family home. You and Jon are a good advert for the NT and the monthly membership is a good idea too
    Look forward to seeing where you get to next.xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Lynn! The Alan Titchmarsh folly sounds interesting, I've not watched a gardening programme in months! xxx

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  8. this looks extremely beautiful - the bright day, the gorgeous house and the wonderful parkland too. how cute are those sheep!
    not to mention the swans and deer.....
    would have compliment your outfit too - and you´r inspiring me to wear my own vintage sheepskin hat more often.
    as for the NT membership - great thing! we pondered to get a "schloesser card" for all the estates in saxon - but you need to buy it every year new.....
    xxxxx

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    1. Shugborough is such a lovely place for a stroll, the blue skies really did show the water off to its best advantage.
      Aren't those sheep gorgeous? I loved their sweet fluffy faces.
      Oh yes, get your sheepskin hat on, Beate! They are ridiculously warm and there's no danger of getting lost wearing one - they're huge!
      What a shame those Schloesser Cards are so expensive, I'd love to see more of Germany's grand houses, the ones you've shared have been wonderful. xxx

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  9. What a perfect day. You are right about the NT membership and where you live you're brilliantly placed to take advantage of so many superb locations.

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    1. It couldn't have been lovelier! We're so lucky to have so many NT properties within an hour's drive from home. xxx

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  10. Evening Vix, yes bright cold days are the best (well in winter anyway lol) I love that sheep I want one! Such an interesting read. Is it cheeky to say your hat went well with him? I am always surprised what a difference it makes wearing a hat makes on a cold day. I love the co-incidence of the grafitti I love things like that. I wish we had as many NT properties our way. I will continue to enjoy yours Have a great week end Shazxx

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    1. Evening, Shaz! Jon was wondering if it would be possible to entice one of those sheep and get it in the car. I reckon after a good shampoo, it'd be a lovely pet to cuddle on a cold night! Those teddy bear faces are gorgeous!
      I couldn't believe that graffiti, I wonder if it was a similarly glorious day 123 yesr ago? xxx

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  11. I do wish we had something like the NT trust here, but unfortunately we don't, and stately homes and their grounds are mostly off-limits. Such a shame, really, as I'm sure there are quite a few gems here too. Nothing on the scale of Shugborough though, I suppose.
    How beautiful it all looks in the Winter sun. I love the teddy bear-faced sheep, the spooky mist, and magnificent Hadrian's Arch with its ancient graffiti. And your outfit, of course! No wonder you were stopped and admired. xxx

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    1. I bet there's some gorgeous houses and gardens in your part of the world. What a shame the National Trust doesn't have a counterpart in Belgium.
      It was such a perfect day for a Winter walk, I wanted to take one of those sheep home with me! xxx

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  12. The last few days have been perfect walking weather. It's great you can still roam the grounds at Shugborough and what a lot to see. I love Follys and Hadrian's Arch was quite spectacular. I would loved to have seen the deer rutting. The sheep were very cute and cuddly.

    You looked very snug and warm in your lovely outfit; no wonder you got compliments!

    OH and I don't make enough use of our National Trust membership but he's still working full time which only leaves the weekends....

    Have a great weekend.
    xxx

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    1. It's been absolutely gorgeous, hasn't it? We keep seeing warnings for fog but so far have escaped it - it's been clear, dazzling bright and glorious.
      How fab are those deer? Not at all bothered by visitors pointing their cameras at them - just like the teddy-bear faced sheep.
      We've only been to a National Trust property on a weekend once and that was with Ann & Jos, I've never seen so many children! xxx

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  13. You would never think those pictures were taken in January, would you? That sky, that sunshine, absolutely stunning and beautifully captured! Not surprised your out got compliments, it's gorgeous and toast warm too, no doubt. You doing days like this, well, it's not very often I wish we could drive, but oh, to do trips like these...Zxx

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    1. I know, the sky looks like it should be boiling hot and in the height of Summer! You really do need to drive to get to most of the National Trust properties although there's some in Birmingham city centre that look really interesting! xxx

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  14. Another rich such and such that lost it all! You always bring so much detail to your trust trips. Thank you.

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  15. The National Trust should be paying you for all this marvelous advertising, Vix! What a glorious property this is - I'm practically swooning over the blue bridge and I'm a sucker for follies. I've been a fan since I saw McCaig's Tower in Oban in 1995: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCaig's_Tower

    Love your wonderfully colourful outfit, especially your ginormous fur hat! Have a great weekend!

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    1. WoW! McCaig's Tower looks wonderful. I've never bee to Scotland, which is utterly disgraceful! xxx

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  16. I wonder if he ever did any model shoots there?? I love those deer having a good old scrap to sort things out. I have just found out I have glandular fever! When does my pain ever end. I blame light he came home not well and gave me a snog well a kiss and he has it!!
    I used to love going to national trust properties as a child I used to pretend I was a princess lost in a castle. I think that’s lost on kids now a days. But I did find this hilarious climb In dinosaur costume for the kids they love it and it was 50p! I am now getting ready to fly home. So herbal remedies are out and a calming medicine for the kids and 30 people on the flight home! Love and huggs allie

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    1. Hello, Allie! I hope you feel better soon. Jon had Glandular Fever as a teenager and said he was ill for months.
      I've never been inside Shugborough Hall or Patrick Lichfield's appartments - I wonder if when it reopens there may be some of his fashion photos taken in the grounds.
      The kids we see when we're at NY T places do still seem to be having the time of their lives, there's loads of woodland trails and treasure hunts to keep them entertained.
      30 people on the flight sounds just about right! xxx

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  17. Hi Vix

    Which or your vehicles is Patrice? Not heard of this one before. And do you still have Ebby?

    I give my vehicles names too - I have Doris and Fenella

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    1. Hello! All vehicles need names, I love yours! I wrote about Patrice on 25th October, 2021 - he's our old new runaround. I do still sell on eBay, that's why I'm always shopping! x

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  18. Lovely photos and such a lovely sunny day (totally my kind of winter's day too!).
    No wonder you received compliments on your Fabulous Outfit!, you look gorgeous!. Love your coat and scarf and the perfect sunglasses!. And the cute bag too!
    Loving and enjoying (vicariously) your visits!
    besos

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  19. I greatly enjoyed your grand tour Vix. Bonkers they had a Hadrian's Arch built and how bizarre about the 100 year old graffiti dated to the same day! No wonder you were stopped, you look fab xXx

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    1. Thanks, Lulu! How the other half lived, eh? xxx

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Lots of love, Vix