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Shugborough Historic Estate, Staffordshire

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published June 23rd 2015
The complete attraction from working farm to fine mansion
It is labelled as Staffordshire's 'premier day out', but there is almost too much to see in just a single day at this world class visitor attraction.

Clearly, you are not going to trek around the entire 900 acre Shugborough estate, which is largely made up of parkland meadow and woodland.

Shugborough, Staffordshire, Lord Lichfield, Georgian
The historic mansion house


But there is still plenty for visitors to enjoy at what is the only complete working historic estate in the country.

Shugborough estate is dominated by the imposing mansion house which was the home for more than 40 years of Lord Patrick Lichfield, the 5th Earl of Lichfield, who was also Her Majesty the Queen's first cousin once removed.

Shugborough, historic estate, mansion house, Lord Lichfield, Patrick Lichfield
One of the feature rooms in the mansion house


The house, which has been open to the public since the National Trust acquired it in 1966, has been in the Anson family for almost four centuries.

They bought the original manor house in 1624, but that was demolished towards the end of the 17th century to make way for a more impressive building, parts of which can still be visited.

Shugborough, mansion house, Lord Lichfield, Staffordshire
The view of the mansion house from the river


But the mansion house you can see today was substantially expanded from 1748 onwards and also filled with wonderful treasures from all over the world.

When the National Trust became owners of the property, the local Staffordshire County Council entered into a 99 year lease to manage, conserve and maintain the house.

Shugborough historic estate, Staffordshire, Lord Lichfield
Getting around Shugborough historic estate


Lord Lichfield, who was also a famous photographer, inherited Shugborough from his grandfather, the 4th Earl, in 1960.
And when the National Trust became owners six years later, he created his own private apartments on most of the upper floor and then leased them from the county council until his death in 2005.

Lord Lichfield, Patrick Lichfield, Shugborough, historic
Lord Lichfield's former bathroom in the private apartments


Lord Lichfield's son later surrendered the lease back to the council, who then spent nine months restoring the apartments to how they would have looked in the 1960s.

And visitors can today see the result of that project during a tour of the private apartments, which include many of the famous faces that Patrick Lichfield photographed at Shugborough from Mick Jagger, Lulu and Joanna Lumley to his former girlfriend and actress Britt Ekland.

But, as I said at the outset, there is much more to Shugborough than 'just' the mansion house.

Visitors to the estate will first pass through the walled garden followed by a series of original farm workshops, including the head gardener's office, which have recently been restored. The workshops are now used for craft displays but they only open at various times.

A short stroll then brings you to Shugborough Park Farm, a working farm originating from the Georgian period, which boasts its own working mill.

Shugborough, Georgian, working farm, rare breeds
Some of the rare breeds at the working farm


Visitors can see demonstrations such as bread and cheese making, while the farm also has a collection of rare animal breeds which the estate manages in tandem with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

They include Bagot goats, the rarest animal on the farm with only 100-200 breeding females left in the world, Middle White Pigs (200-300 breeding females left) and Boreray sheep, with less than 500 breeding females in the world.

A land train will take visitors the half mile or so to the mansion house, or you can opt to walk along a parkland path.

And taking the healthy option allows you a close-up look at the Tower of the Winds, an 18th century copy of a classical monument which was apparently used for parties, although the cellar was converted into a dairy in 1805.

Shugborough, Victorian servants' quarters, head cook, Lord Lichfield
Head cook's demonstration in the Victorian servants' quarters


Before arriving at the house you come to the Victorian Servants' Quarters depicting how the estate was run in the 19th century.

Here you can try your hand in the laundry, meet the head cook in the kitchen, or even sample a drop of the Anson family ale in the working brewery.

On the opposite side of the courtyard is the Lady Walk Tearoom which gives you an ideal opportunity to have a rest while treating yourself to homemade meals, cakes and tea.

After visiting the mansion house, visitors can take their time (but before it closes at 5pm) strolling around the grade 1 listed gardens alongside the river.

Shugborough, historic estate, Chinese house, monuments
The 18th century Chinese house in the grounds


Here there are eight magnificent historic monuments to discover, ranging from a monument to a treasured pet cat to the delightful Chinese house which sits next to the red bridge.

And, if you have time, you can also visit Patrick Lichfield's island arboretum on the opposite side of the river which he also leased from the council and which boasts a romantic boathouse.

To book tickets, visit www.shugborough.org.uk or call 0845 459 8900.
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Why? A fabulous trip into history but with so much more
When: Wednesdays to Mondays all year round
Phone: 0845 459 8900
Where: Shugborough Estate, Stafford ST17 0XB
Cost: Advance admission 10.50 concessions, 12.50 adults, 7.50 for children 5-15.
Your Comment
I love these historic manor houses, but what a load of housekeeping! Unusual front facade on this one.
by Kristin Ravelle (score: 2|302) 846 days ago
I think I'd have preferred to live at the farm down the road, although the upstairs private apartments at Shugborough are very nice.
by Tony Collins (score: 2|183) 846 days ago
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