Parkland buildings, monuments and follies

The Chinese House, Shugborough, Staffordshire

The Shugborough Estate is dotted with buildings, monuments and follies which formed some of the earliest examples of Greek Revival and Oriental influenced designs in the country.

The Essex Bridge
The stone Essex Bridge across the River Trent

The Essex Bridge is just outside the Shugborough Estate and crosses the River Trent at the site of an earlier, sixteenth century, wooden bridge. Built in the seventeenth century the current stone bridge, with its parapets and ornate coping, originally had as many as 43 arches but is now much shorter, with just 14 arches.

The China House
The China House and red Chinese Bridge

The design for the China House was taken from sketches made in Canton by Sir Percy Brett, who accompanied Admiral Anson during his circumnavigation of the globe. It was completed in 1747, making it one of the earliest examples of oriental design in the country and a precursor to the Chinese Pavilion at Kew. Now Grade II * Listed, it used to stand on an island in a manmade canal and was reached by two Chinese bridges.

The Cat Monument
The Cat Monument

Two theories exist that explain this monument. Designed in 1749, the Grade II Listed Cat Monument either commemorates Admiral Anson’s cat who accompanied him on his voyage of circumnavigation aboard Centurion, or it’s a monument to Thomas Anson’s favourite cat Kouli-Kan, the last in a line of Persian cats that he kept as pets for many years.

The Ruin
The Ruin at Shugborough

Designed by Thomas Wright in 1750 as a folly and now Grade II Listed, The Ruin was once more extensive, was composed from parts of the original manor house and included a gothic pigeon house. Much of this has been removed and rest was stabilised in the 1960s.

The Shepherd's Monument
The Shepherd's Monument

Built in the late 1750s, the Shepherd’s Monument takes its name from its central marble relief by Dutch artist Peter Scheemakers, who also worked on the Triumphal Arch. The relief mirrors Nicholas Poussin’s painting ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’.

The outer columns of the monument were added later, in 1763 by James Stuart., though this whole monument was possibly once built into the kitchen garden wall, before the current Walled Garden was built in 1806.

The Doric Temple at Shugborough
The Doric Temple at Shugborough, Staffordshire

Built around 1760 the Doric Temple was designed by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and based on the Temple of Hephaistos in Athens. This was one of the first accurate Greek reproduction buildings in the country.

The Triumphal Arch at Shugborough
The Triumphal Arch on the skyline at Shugborough

Based on a design in the antiquities of Athens, the construction of this monument soon took on a new meaning following the death of Thomas Anson’s brother George in 1762, who changed the arch to become a memorial to his brother and his brother’s wife Elizabeth Yorke.

He commissioned two busts; one of Elizabeth Yorke that faces towards Colwich where George and Elizabeth are buried, and George’s bust faces Shugborough Hall which he helped to create.

Now Grade 1 Listed, the Triumphal Arch stands at the highest point on the estate and is a great place to take in the views and surroundings.

The Tower of the Winds
Tower of the Winds, Shugborough, Staffordshire

Based on the Horologium of Andronikos in Athens and designed by James Stuart, the Tower of the Winds was completed in around 1765. It was originally surrounded by water and accessed by two small bridges, but this was lost when the park was badly damaged by the great flood in 1795.

The basement of the Tower was converted by Samuel Wyatt into a show dairy around 1803, whilst the ground and first floors are much more ornate. It is rumoured that the 1st Earl of Lichfield used the first floor of the Temple as a gambling den.

The Tower may look a little uncared for, with peeling and patchy paint. This is due to the wrong cement and paint being used for previous repairs. We have carried out paint analysis on the building to establish the original paint treatment so we can restore it in the future.

The Lanthorn of Demosthenes
The Lanthorn of Demosthenes

This was the last monument designed by James Stuart for Shugborough. A copy of a building in Athens dating from 4BC, it was completed in 1771 and originally included a bowl designed by Josiah Wedgewood.