In the run up to Christmas, I always like to do things to get me in the festive spirit. This year in particular I needed it after my operation, and it was really nice to be able to visit a few places with some lovely decorations. Last week I wrote about Tamworth castle being dressed for Christmas, and this week Shugborough Hall was no different.
About Shugborough Hall
Shugborough Hall sits in roughly the middle of England – in the county of Staffordshire. It was owned by the local Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540. It was later purchased by the Anson family in 1624 and remained in the family for over 300 years! In 1960, after the death of the last heir, it passed to The National Trust.
William Anson’s son, George, funded a lot of the changes in the house still seen today due to a very lucrative and successful Naval career. Both he and his brother Thomas travelled extensively, including to Italy, Greece, and on a round the world trip in the 1700s. In that era, travel would have been dangerous and treacherous, but they dedicated their lives to it bringing back lots of treasures and dying without children (you can see why I quite liked them). That said, the house deals sensitively with the topic of colonialism and Empire which helped fund the brothers’ fortunes, which I also think is important to highlight.
What to see
There is so much to see at Shugborough. We easily spent 3 hours in the main parts of the house and grounds and if you wanted to do a walk as well it could be a full day trip.
The biggest draw, of course, is the mansion house itself. Inside you can see some of the treasures brought back from the Anson brothers’ travels including vases and pieces of eight. Many of the rooms are also open, and the cosy library is my personal favourite. The Christmas trees were just so festive as well.
There are also some lovely formal gardens which include a fountain and nice landscaped gardens in front of the river which make for nice views of the house. As well as the formal gardens, there’s also a big walled garden. Whilst visiting in winter meant we didn’t see all the flowers, we did find a fun Christmas trees decorated with carrots for the reindeer!
You can also walk around the river, visiting the Asian bridge and pavilion with some lovely views back over to the house.
The House of the Winds (not quite the same as the one in Athens), is also situated in a nice corner of the grounds, and it used to be a dairy. The building itself is closed, but in the sunshine it looked beautiful from the outside.
Finally, you might also like to take the short stroll up the hill to Hadrian’s Arch (another Greek inspired piece), which sits imposingly on top of the hill and looks lovely in silhouette as you walk up.
How to get there
Shugborough is only really accessible with a car, as there is no public transport to the Estate. The closest major city is Birmingham. Stoke, Leicester, Nottingham and Derby are also close – about 30mins-1hr away from the estate.
That said, if you don’t have a car then the closest major train station is Stafford, which you can reach from London Euston in 1hr 20 minutes, and then get a taxi to Shugborough which would take around 15 minutes, so it can make for a good half day trip from the capital (and a very off the tourist track one too!).
What do you think of Shugborough at Christmas? I thought it was beautiful and perfect for a festive day trip. I think England is lucky to have so many historic homes run by The National Trust and open to the public; it means lovely places all over the country to visit all year round. How is your count down to Christmas going? Hope you’re feeling festive and stay safe everyone.