Shugborough is now open
Shugborough came back into the full care of the National Trust on the 1 November 2016 and since then we have been working really hard over the winter to get the property ready for reopening on the 21 March from improving visitor facilities to opening up access.
The Shugborough Estate is one of just a few historic places across the UK to have such a significant Grade I listed parkland with its unique monuments and follies and was very much at the forefront of eighteenth century parkland design.
As a conservation charity our key aim is to restore the Grade I listed parkland and tell the story of the two brothers, Admiral George Anson whose success at sea enabled his brother Thomas to realise his vision for ‘A perfect paradise’ and ‘arcadia’ and the Shugborough we see today.
These conservation aims sympathetic to the history of Shugborough have very much informed the winter works and improvements across the estate in the run up to reopening and will continue to as we embark on a journey to balance conservation with offering the best visitor experience.
Outdoor conservation work
Outdoor winter works have included reducing fencing to open up access across the parkland and the introduction of new walks. Visitors will be able to reach new areas such as being able to walk up to the magnificent Triumphal Arch and appreciate the views as they would have been intended at the time of the Anson brothers.
Essential tree works have been a vital part of outdoor conservation work and will still be ongoing in some specific areas after opening in order to fell diseased or dead trees and ensure visitor safety as well as creating sustainable wildlife habitats.
Over the last few months the Park Farm team have been working towards obtaining RSPCA Freedom Foods status which they have successfully achieved in time for reopening. This ensures that the high standards that the cattle and sheep should be kept in have been met.
Path work has taken place in front of the mansion and in the formal gardens to improve access and the visitor experience and with the planting of 8,000 bulbs by the team over the winter the gardens will be a riot of colour as we come into spring.
Working with the local community
Local Anson Primary school spent the day at Shugborough to offer ideas for what will be the new Explorer’s Wood natural play area. The children came up with some wonderful ideas that we have taken on board and have been pivotal in the new play area design which will reflect the theme of travel and adventure and we hope will be ready for May half-term.
Work has been well under way with the help of local families who attended a ‘Family muck in day’ recently to help tidy up and prepare the Arboretum ready for reopening. Families helped move logs and create much needed wildlife corridors in this space.
Plenty of conservation work has been happening in the house too to better tell the story of the two Anson brothers. Visitors are invited to embark on a journey to explore the ground floor of the mansion and learn more about Admiral Anson’s circumnavigation of the globe and his infamous capture of a Spanish galleon ship and its treasure.
The funds created from George Anson’s successful venture at sea enabled Thomas to realise his passion for Greek revival and lead the way in its architectural and parkland design. This is captured best through the four Nicholas Dall paintings displayed all together in the Dining room providing contemporary accounts of the grounds and some of the lost monuments in the great flood of 1795.
The house team have been busy preparing the Servants Quarters ready for opening on the 21 and once essential conservation work has been undertaken in the Mansion that too will reopen on the 23 March. The Lichfield Apartments require a little more time to carry out vital conservation work to ensure visitor safety and are anticipated to open in the summer.
Just as much work has gone into improving visitor facilities with a new car park and two newly refurbished cafés. Park Farm café will be open from the 21 March and the team hope to have the Mansion tea-room ready for Easter.
Planning permission was granted for a new visitor reception complete with a cosy log burner to the rear and this is starting to take shape. A temporary visitor reception trailer is in place until work is complete on the new wooden building.
The old visitor reception will become a Plant Sales shop selling plants and produce from the Walled Garden and we hope to have this open late spring. The newly refurbished National Trust shop up in the midden yard near the mansion is ready for reopening.
Lots of work has gone into the physical improvements of the site but during this closed period the property has been busy establishing a strong property staff and volunteer team with lots of training throughout this time.
Hayley Mival, Project Manager for Shugborough, said the following:
“Over the winter period the Shugborough team have focused on investing in visitor facilities and starting urgent conservation works, as well as ensuring the site is safe for our visitors. I am really excited to be able to share this work with our visitors and invite them to join us on our 10 year journey in to unchartered territory as we put in place our vision for the future of Shugborough.”
All of us at Shugborough invite you to join us on this exciting journey as we continue to develop this special place over the next ten years and we look forward to welcoming our visitors on site to see all exciting changes and the work that has taken place in the last few months