The LEGACY project at Attingham

The parkland and River Tern at Attingham

Often described as the single most generous gift to the National Trust, Lord Berwick left the mansion and grounds of Attingham Park “for public benefit” under the care of the Trust. A Trust New Art collaboration between Attingham and Pentabus Theatre will explore what this means today through the LEGACY project.

In 2019 the LEGACY partnership began the process of meeting with community groups local to Attingham exploring the invitation to help ‘make the house sing again’ alongside the community conversations the partnership began the commissioning process to identify artists to join the project.

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit the project was ‘furloughed’ from March until December 2020 when conversations and planning could begin again. With continued support from Arts Council England the partnership team have restarted the project, bringing it back to life in 2021.

As a result we are excited to announce the recruitment of Jo Wheeler, a socially engaged artist who will work alongside lead artist Andrew Sterry, a socially engaged theatre maker and Pentabus’ Audiences and Engagement Manager, as project artists.

We’re also delighted to announce that Telford & Wrekin CVS, All Age Carers Centre will be the community group joining the project.

Telford & Wrekin CVS, All Age Carers Centre are finding that there are increasing numbers of families that are being supported by children and young people. And it can be surprising how many people are still unaware about exactly what young carers, who are as young as 5 and up to 16 years old are responsible for. Young carers are often supporting their own families to remain stable in a community setting. Often parents and siblings illnesses range from physical disabilities; siblings with special educational needs or emotional health issues, like anxiety, depression or alcohol and substance misuse addictions.

You can find more information on their website


Project Update: Spring 2021

Artists Andrew and Jo are currently running online workshops with the young carers planning For The Party We’ll Have When We Can All Be Together Again!  The group are exploring the key ingredients of a good party from food and decorations to music and games.

Andrew and Jo in the Dining Room at Attingham Park.
Artists Jo and Andrew in the Dining Room at Attingham Park
Andrew and Jo in the Dining Room at Attingham Park.

The workshop sessions will also involve volunteers and staff from Attingham, providing historic details through a series of audio postcards and short films. These audio postcards and films will act as a method of exchange between the place and team at Attingham and the young carers until we can safely meet together on site.  Different staff that live and work at Attingham will be invited to make and share audio snapshots including specific views from windows of their choosing; descriptions of dresses in the historic collection or the formal table layout in the dining room. These postcards and films will help the young carers imagine Attingham and begin a relationship with it. 

Through these workshops sessions the group will work towards an online party to ‘virtually’ take place in the formal historic Dining Room in the Mansion at Attingham. The young carers and artists will collect ideas, objects and sounds that they can arrange and leave in the ‘real’ Dining Room at Attingham – so that the Dining Room becomes their stage and the group will leave a ‘ghost’ of their party in the room for visitors to discover.

Party planning activities took place during the online workshops in Spring 2021.
An abstract image of a party planning pack from the project
Party planning activities took place during the online workshops in Spring 2021.

Although the ongoing impact of Coronavirus and social distancing measures means it’s likely the party will take place digitally, we are continuing to monitor government guidance to take every opportunity to bring this group of young people to the historic house and park.

" The Mansion at the park was intended, and still can be, intimidating for many people and the aim of the project is to break down this formality whilst acknowledging the traditions of such a space."
- Claire Tafft, Experiences and Programming Manager, Attingham Park

While the community workshops are taking place and as the project progresses artists Andrew and Jo will be capturing sound, visual and digital aspects of the planning journey, culminating in the party.

The remnants, echoes and voices of the party will be installed inside the Dining Room of the Mansion. This will be open to visitors of Attingham from early August 2021, alongside other rooms dressed to show the different types of uses of the spaces for occasions and celebrations, and will be continue to be on display to visitors during October and December before closing in early January 2022.

More about Andrew and Jo

Andrew Sterry is a collaborative theatre maker from Mid Wales. Andrew works with artists, performers and musicians, museums, charities and schools, and creates work in a range of spaces from care homes and day centres to community settings and theatres.  

Lead artist, Andrew Sterry in the Entrance Hall at Attingham
Lead artist, Andrew Sterry in the Entrance Hall at Attingham
Lead artist, Andrew Sterry in the Entrance Hall at Attingham

As a writer and director, Andrew co-creates original theatre and performance with and about the people who are in it. The work is often a celebration of the past, the present and the future and explores both personal and community heritage.  He has worked with theatres to develop new relationships with diverse communities.  

Andrew is the Audiences and Engagement Manager at Pentabus where he runs Pentabus Young Writers and Pentabus Young Company.  

Jo Wheeler has been growing her social art practice for over 25 years as a visual artist, producer, writer, mentor and evaluator - supporting people’s well-being and agency through creativity. 

Artist Jo Wheeler in the Dining Room at Attingham
Artist Jo Wheeler in the Dining Room at Attingham
Artist Jo Wheeler in the Dining Room at Attingham

Jo particularly enjoys working with young people, in 2008 she produced and co-wrote Envision - A Handbook: Supporting Young People’s Participation in Galleries and the Arts. Since 2016 she’s been lead artist on The National Forest’s Youth Landscapers Collective (Leicestershire), collaborating with young people to tell the landscape stories of their area for public presentation at the international forest festival, Timber. Other community-based projects include presenting mini pop up museums in bus shelters (South Holland); a Valentine’s Day mass Love Busk (Mansfield); and Walk This Way, working with children to design and lead multi-sensory guided walks of their area (Nottingham). She also values her role as a Creative Mentor supporting young people in care through Derbyshire’s Virtual School.

The LEGACY Project

The project is delivered by the National Trust and Pentabus, and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, part of Trust New Art, National Trust’s programme of contemporary arts.