This morning we had a lie in and after breakfast headed for Shugborough Hall a short walk from the boat to the small ticket office at the end of the Essex Bridge. This saved walking all the way to the other side of the estate for the main office. Until 1pm the house is only open for guided walks so we opted to take the 11.25 tour of the Private Apartments. As National Trust members you can visit the house and gardens(after 1pm) for free but have to pay £3 for a guided tour in the morning. The tour was well worth the money as we had an excellent guide and Stafford Council have done a great job of restoring the house. Below are the front and rear views of the house which once belonged to the Anson family (Lord Lichfield).
The 22 acres of formal riverside gardens are nicely kept and there is an island created by diverting the River Sow on which Patrick Lichfield created a wilderness and arboretum for the 150 species of oak trees he planted. Dotted around the grounds are the Shepherds Monument, the Chinese House and on the island we were surprised to find and Elephant. If the weather had been a little kinder it would have been a nice place to sit and ponder, however the wind was too cold and there was rain in the air so we did not dwell too long.
Fortunately we were allowed to take Ecco into the house on the tour and I must say she behaved impeccably and was a credit to all guide dogs.
The estate was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, whence it passed through several hands before being purchased in 1624 by William Anson, a local lawyer and ancestor of the Earls of Lichfield. The estate remained in the Anson family for three centuries. Following the death of the 4th Earl of Lichfield in 1960, the estate was allocated to the National Trust in lieu of death duties, and then immediately leased to Staffordshire County Council to run and maintain. The private apartments were leased on a peppercorn rent to Patrick Lichfield. His son however has relinquished the lease and Stafford Council have taken them over and are progressively restoring them.
The apartments have 9 on suite bedrooms and several other rooms for dinning and lounging. In the first sitting room we entered is a special carpet woven by Brinton’s of Kidderminster as part payment for the photographs Patrick took for their adverts. It was interesting to note that the bath has a tall metal plug which acted as an overflow as in those days the baths did not have a separate one as on todays baths.On the table next to the stuffed bird is a casting of Patrick’s hands and camera.
Below are some photos of his dressing room, kitchen with Dumb Waiter to take the food down to the dinning room below, his photography room with his wall chart of his appointments for the year. He only appeared to be at the house at weekends, no doubt enjoying mixing with the London Set of the 60’s and 70’s during the week.
After our visit we retired to the Lockhouse Restaurant for another delicious lunch, this time we saved room for a pudding. The afternoon was miserable with light rain for most of it so we spent it tucked up in the boat.