The collection at Shugborough
Shugborough’s collection has been shaped by exploration and global encounters, entangled with the exploits and interests of two brothers, Thomas and George Anson, and their descendants. These are some of the highlights to be found in the house at Shugborough.
The lion’s leg
The lion’s leg is all that survives of the figure head of the H.M.S. Centurion, the ship that took George Anson around the world. Between 1740 and 1744 George circumnavigated the globe on the Centurion, only the second Englishman to achieve this after Sir Francis Drake.
The leg has not always been at Shugborough, after a major repair the figurehead was removed from the ship and was used as a pub sign at Waterbeach on his estate at Goodwood by the Duke of Richmond and placed on the grand staircase at Windsor Castle by King William IV. It also sat in Greenwich hospital on the Anson Ward, until being stored in an outhouse and eventually making its way back to Shugborough.
The armorial dinner service
Commissioned for George Anson in 1740s by European merchants of Canton, China, supposedly in gratitude for the assistance given by Anson’s crew in extinguishing a fire in the city, the armorial dinner service contains some of the most aesthetic items in Shugborough’s collection.
Coat of arms
The service is hand-painted with the Anson coat of arms, and waterscapes of the Pearl River and Plymouth sound. The centre of the service is painted with the breadfruit tree. This image is based on an original drawing by Piercy Brett. The tree was discovered by the crew of the Centurion on the island of Tinian and provided much-needed sustenance.
The Furietti Centaurs
The casts of the Furietti Centaurs housed at Shugborough reflect the fashion for collecting antique sculpture between the 16th century and the 18th century, a period when thousands of Hellenistic and Roman were unearthed across Europe.
Shugborough’s Centaurs are thought to be the earliest known casts of the original antique marble Centaurs which have remained, since 1765, in the Capitolines Museum, Rome. The marbles had been excavated 30 years earlier at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, but had been retained – much to the irritation of the Pope – in the palazzo of their discoverer, the cardinal-antiquary Giuseppe Furietti. When Furietti died, and the Centaurs were finally received into the Capitoline, engravings of them were swiftly published.
The Earl’s Rover
Purchased in 1955 by the 4th Earl of Lichfield Thomas Edward Anson, his Rover 75 is a gorgeous black saloon with tan upholstery, and was purchased complete with a fire extinguisher, trafficators and fog and long range lamps.
When the Earl died, the car was passed to his wife Violet Margaret, Countess of Lichfield, who carried on running the car until the early 1980s. The countess used the car regularly to visit family in Devon. She was an independent woman and would use the well-known AA route planner to navigate her own route. She then donated it to the care of the National Trust at Shugborough complete with its own number plate.
The car is in good condition for its age, and work is being done to prevent further deterioration. Full restoration is not being attempted to not risk the loss of original working parts.
Explore the Georgian house at Shugborough, discover global treasures, life below stairs in the servants' quarters and the Apartments of Patrick Lichfield.
Explore the walled garden, formal garden and arboretum at Shugborough in Staffordshire, the former home of the late Patrick Lichfield.
Discover how Thomas Anson and his descendants set about transforming Shugborough in Staffordshire into a pioneering example of garden design.
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