Discover the Mansion at Attingham

Close up view of trunk with Lord Berwick stencilled on it

Built for the first Lord Berwick in 1785, and replacing Tern Hall, Attingham Hall and its beautiful parkland were owned by one family for more than 160 years. As their fortunes rose and fell the family proved themselves to be spenders, savers and saviours - providing a fascinating story of love and neglect, the marks of which still stand in Attingham’s rooms today.

A watercolour painting of Tern Hall, the original house at Attingham Park
Tern Hall, home of the Hill family, was incorporated into the 'new' mansion built in the 1780s
A watercolour painting of Tern Hall, the original house at Attingham Park

Welcoming you back to the Mansion in 2021

We'd like to thank our members, visitors and donors for their support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, without it we wouldn't have been able to continue our conservation work looking after the places we care for, including the Mansion at Attingham. The safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is our priority and we're delighted to be able to safely welcome people back into the Basement of the Mansion from Monday 17 May (in line with government guidance).   

This year, Covid-19 restrictions and the impact of the pandemic, mean we are limited in terms of how much of the Mansion we can open at once.

We’re going to take this opportunity to test a variety of experiences and different types of visit to the Mansion. Everything we do will be rooted in the Mansion’s history, opening different parts of the building to highlight particular stories and aspects of its past, present and future. We’ll be working with volunteers and creative partners to do this. Over the course of the year we will be gathering feedback from visitors about their experiences to help inform how we open the Mansion in the future.

Firstly, we’ll be reopening the basement of the Mansion from Monday 17 May to the end of July with a new themed visit ‘Servants’ Home: Putting on a Country House Party’. 

Life in Service

Domestic service was the UK’s largest employer by the end of the 19th century with over 1.5 million people working in service. A similar number of people work for the NHS today. Working in service was good, reliable employment, and working in a country house like Attingham was seen as prestigious.

For women it allowed a rare chance to live independently if they rose to the rank of Housekeeper. However, the work could be very physically demanding, socially restrictive, and the servants’ world had its own set of rules and hierarchies that mirrored the complexities of the ‘upstairs’ world above.

Historic call bells, Attingham Park.
Three historic bells in the Bell Room at Attingham Park
Historic call bells, Attingham Park.

To maintain a country house as large as Attingham required an army of servants to wait on the wealthy family, who lived a life of luxury upstairs while the servants toiled below.

Servants’ Home: Putting on a Country House Party

So, what would it have felt like to work in service at Attingham in its Regency heyday?

Imagine… Lord and Lady Berwick have just returned home from a long trip abroad, and the orderly world of the servants in the basement of the Mansion has been thrown into disarray as they handle the luggage, laundry and luxury items from Thomas and Sophia’s travels.  

Unpacking luggage and luxury items from the Lord and Lady's travels
Unpacking luggage and luxury items from the Lord and Lady's travels
Unpacking luggage and luxury items from the Lord and Lady's travels

What’s more, the couple have just announced a lavish dinner party to celebrate their return and have invited all their friends and family to come and stay! With beds to make up, linen to wash, clothes to press, a huge meal to prepare – not to mention the washing up – discover what the servants were up against to keep the house running like clockwork for those ‘upstairs’.  

Please report to the back door of the Mansion to find out more about Life Below Stairs…

The gleaming copper in the Mansion Kitchen at Attingham Park
The interior of the Mansion Kitchen at Attingham Park
The gleaming copper in the Mansion Kitchen at Attingham Park

How do I see 'Servants' Home: Putting on a Country House Party'?

We’re managing visitor numbers inside the basement to keep things safe and enjoyable. Timed tickets for entrance, at intervals between 10.30am and 4pm will be available on a first come first served basis each day from Visitor Reception.

You’ll still need to book your visit to the outdoors at Attingham for admission to the park. We’re currently unable to offer bookings in advance to visit the basement. We’ll be monitoring the reopening and will be making as many tickets available as we safely can.

The basement visit will last for approximately 30 minutes. In line with government guidance you’ll be required to wear a face covering inside the building, and follow social distancing guidance.  

Looking across the Deer Park towards the Mansion at Attingham Park.

Please book before visiting 

Attingham is open for pre-booked visits (you can book on the day at Attingham), and you can book online or by calling 03442 491 895. You'll need your ticket/booking ref and NT membership card (if applicable) ready for admission. The Mansion basement is open for 'Servants' Home: Putting on a Country House Party'. Entry to the basement will be by timed token available on the day from Visitor Reception (on first-come, first-served basis).

 

Continuing a legacy of looking after Attingham

Thomas, 8th Lord Berwick, bequeathed Attingham to the National Trust in 1947. Before this, Thomas and his wife Teresa had begun restoration work, as well as carefully saving and storing historic items for future conservation and restoration.

" ...Some day, others will finish what we could not..."
- Teresa, Lady Berwick, 1951.

Described as one of the most generous gifts to the Trust, the team at Attingham continue to conserve and care for the interiors of the Mansion and the collection it contains today.

A copy of the 1827 sale catalogue for Attingham Park

Understanding Attingham's Collection

Attingham’s collection is a bittersweet story of loss, survival and re-discovery.