SHUGBOROUGH HALL, STAFFORDSHIRE

Grid Ref: SJ 989 224
Date: 13 October 2012

 

Shugborough Hall
Shugborough Hall, 2012

 

Shugborough Hall is owned by The National Trust but managed by Staffordshire County Council. My visit was late in October, very near the end of the season. Shugborough is a tremendous day out for lovers of historic houses. In addition to the house and gardens there is a farm and the fascinating Staffordshire museum. For photographers the added interest that it was the home of Patrick Lichfield the celebrated photographer of the beau monde in the second half of the 20th century. All this and a Spanish treasure galleon too!

 

Shugborough Hall spacerGardens
The frontage from the side View from the gardens

The official website for Shugborough relates how the site was initially part of the estate of the Bishop of Lichfield. William Anson, a lawyer bought the house and eight acres for £1000 in 1624. William's grandson, also William, demolished the existing house and built a new one which forms the centre of the existing mansion today. Between 1745 and 1748 the current Georgian house was created by the architect Thomas Wright who added the two pavilions at either end of the original block. William had two sons and Thomas inherited in 1695. He had been on the grand tour and this influenced his taste resulting in the some of the decoration seen in the dining room and library. His younger brother George, born in 1697 was to provide the wealth for the construction and decoration.

Admiral George Anson (1697-1762) joined the navy in 1712. From his promotion to acting lieutenant in 1716 he was steadily promoted as a consequence of his ability and in 1724 reached the rank of post-captain. on HMS Scarborough. He served in American waters on the Carolinas station. He took command of the 60-gun battleship Centurion. In 1740 at the outset of the War of Austrian Succession was sent to attack the Spanish in South America with the rank of commodore. Although he set out with six warships and two store ships a series of disasters reduced the force to just the flagship HMS Centurion. Two turned back having encountered difficulties rounding Cape Horn. Other ships were wrecked and the total crew had fallen from 961 to 335. After making some attacks on the west coast of South America he collected all the remaining crew on HMS Centurion and sailed across the Pacific to Macao in November 1742 and searched for the Spanish treasure galleons that passed between Mexico and the Phiippines. He intercepted the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga, possessing 1,313,843 pieces of eight off Cape Espiritu Santon on 20 June 1743. After retuning to Macau he sailed for England round the Cape of Good Hope arriving on 15 June 1744. Anson was made a baron in 1747 and became first Lord of the Admiralty four years later. His share of the bounty allowed him to acquire land and improve Shugborough. George was married but had no children so his brother Thomas inherited his wealth. He used it in part to collect sculptures, paintings and books. He never married so on his death the estate went to his sister's son George Adams, who in the common manner of the time was able to cement his inheritance by changing his name to Anson. His son, Thomas, made major modifications at Shugborough introducing neo-classical style decoration and with architect Samuel Wyatt, changed the mansion too. The outside of the house was covered in slate to make it look like stone and eight ionic colums were added to the front as shown in my pictures. Thomas was MP for Lichfield and elevated to the Viscountcy in 1806. The 2nd Viscount was created 1st Earl fo Lichfield by William IV in 1831.

Patrick Lichfield the photographer was the 5th Earl inheriting from his grandfather in 1960. Although the National Trust took ownership of the estate it was leased for 99 years to Staffordshire County Council who run it with their own employees rather than with volunteers as commonly found in National Trust properties.

 

Sources:

Official Website

Wikipedia article on Admiral George Anson

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