Creating a perfect paradise

Ruin at Shugborough

After his travels around Europe, Thomas Anson came home and wanted to make Shugborough his own perfect paradise. His landscape creation was ground-breaking as it included some of the first neo-Greek structures in the country by architect Thomas Wright.

Thomas Wright’s first creation was the Chinese House in 1747. This spectacular house can be seen settled in the greenery, to the right of the mansion, and is accompanied by a red bridge. As you stroll around to the house, make sure to take a snapshot of its reflection in the River Sow.

Explore our Chinese House
Chinese House at Shugborough
Explore our Chinese House

Between 1748 – 58, Thomas erected the enigmatic and poignant Shepherds monument. This monument was inspired by an oil painting by Poussin, Et In Arcadia Ego. If you look closely at the monument, you can see the Latin phrase ‘even in Paradise, I too [Death] am here’.

As you walk round to the formal gardens behind the mansion, you will spot the stoic ruins down by the river. It was built in 1750 and once sat opposite the colonnade that was swept away by the great flood of 1795.

Ben Wigley combines photography with drawings and paintings

A Lost Paradise?

‘A Lost Paradise?’ is a poetic, visual journey through Shugborough’s parkland, taking you back to the tumultuous night of the great flood of 1795.

Wrights final monument, the Cat’s Monument, is thought to be made at the same time of the ruin. It is believed to either commemorate George Anson’s cat or to remember a Persian Cat, Kouli Khan who was Thomas’ pet.

The Cats Monument
The Cats Monument
The Cats Monument

The monument is made of Coade stone that was first marketed at around 1770. This stone was considered the first ‘artificial stone’. The material is actually a mixture of clay, terracotta, silicates and glass fired in kilns for four days at a time and its recipe was a closely regarded secret.