Make your mark on the Field of Play

We're a year into the process of developing this much loved play space at Attingham. We've received funding from Cadbury and commissioned Walter Jack Studios who have created 'Guilloche' - a long term blueprint for the future design of the field.

With over 440,000 people visiting Attingham each year, the Field of Play at Attingham is a well-loved play space. Initially opened in 2012 the field at the edge of the Walled Garden has always been a ‘work in progress’ with play equipment and play areas added to it over the recent years.


The plan: ‘guilloche’

In 2017, Walter Jack Studios, worked alongside the team at Attingham to come up with a new creative idea for the Field of Play. Visiting regularly, listening and talking to staff and visitors, Walter Jack Studios proposed ‘Guilloche’. 

Artist Walter, at the Field of Play for the 'Make your Mark' weekend.
Walter from Walter Jack Studios in the Field of Play.
Artist Walter, at the Field of Play for the 'Make your Mark' weekend.

Attingham’s Field of Play, also known as the Shoulder of Mutton, has experienced thousands of years of ‘mark making’, creating patterns on its surface, whether from the ancient ridge and furrow, the ploughed lines of modern agriculture or the white lines of a rounders’ pitch. 

Inspired by the infinite interconnecting circles of the guilloche pattern, found inside the Mansion at Attingham  on stone work, gilding, plaster and textiles, over 30 linked circles will be marked out across the entire field, in white line marking paint. This will create a series of circular spaces for activities to take place, and for families to play within, or ‘without’ as they explore the space. The white lines will fade in and out on the field over time, with the weather, when the grass is cut. 

A sketch by Walter Jack Studios of the planned 'guilloche' patten in the Field of Play
A sketch of the white line markings planned for the Field of Play
A sketch by Walter Jack Studios of the planned 'guilloche' patten in the Field of Play
" We use the pattern to create shape, boundary, play and interest in the field. But it does not constrain us because the pattern is a layer that can be used or ignored, worn away and re-discovered."
- Walter Jack, Designer, Walter Jack Studios

What's changed in the Field of Play?

If you've visited over the past year you might have noticed a few changes to the field as we began to include the new ideas for the space.

New willow tunnels being planted as part of the 'guilloche' pattern
Volunteers planting willow tunnels
New willow tunnels being planted as part of the 'guilloche' pattern

As part of the work we measured and marked lines, and built new willow tunnels with the help of local schools and volunteers. A local school and various community groups who use the field helped us form our plans by telling us what they love about it, how they like to play in it and what they thought of the new ideas.

White lines being marked on the Field of Play, April 2017
White lines being marked on the grass in the Field of Play
White lines being marked on the Field of Play, April 2017

How you 'made a mark' on the plans

Last July (2017) we headed up to the field to talk to visitors about the first stage of the plans, what we’d been doing in the field over the past few months and gave families an opportunity to ‘make their mark’.

Families made their mark on the field, telling us what they'd like to see in it.
Child writing ideas down in Attingham's Field of Play
Families made their mark on the field, telling us what they'd like to see in it.

A whole range of activities took place across the weekend, including, storytelling, parachute games, races, mini shelter building, and making a willow wall. Families were able to talk to the Attingham Team as well as Paul and Walter from Walter Jack Studios about the first stage of the design — “Guilloche”.

Parachute games taking pace in the Field of Play for the 'Make your Mark' weekend.
A parachute game taking place in the Field of Play
Parachute games taking pace in the Field of Play for the 'Make your Mark' weekend.

You can see more of the weekend in our film below:

The brightly decorated willow wall taking shape in the Field of Play.
A decorated willow wall being created in the Field of Play at Attingham
The brightly decorated willow wall taking shape in the Field of Play.

A brightly decorated willow wall was created over the weekend
Close up of winding wool on to a willow stick
A brightly decorated willow wall was created over the weekend

What next?

Using feedback from the weekend, an online survey open for responses in August 2017, and consultations with local schools and community groups we've identified priority areas for development in the field this year and beyond.

We're looking at improving accessibility by hard surfacing a selection of the guilloche paths. We're focusing on providing shelter in the field for windy, sunny, and rainy days. We'll be introducing more 'Guilloche' play with more grass mounding throughout the field.

This will always remain a natural play space, with areas of play for different ages spread throughout the field, and plenty of space to run around and explore. Look out for ways to get involved with helping us plant and build throughout the year. We don't plan to close the field while the work takes place, but there may be times when access is restricted to certain areas.

Like you, we love the Field of Play! We're excited to be developing the space, if you'd like to get in touch with us about the work please drop us a line at attingham@nationaltrust.org.uk