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Thursday, 9 May 2013

Shugborough Hall.

It has turned out to be a quite nasty day with showers but a very strong cutting wind so it was a good job that we are staying put and having the day round Shugborough Hall. The Hall is owned by the National Trust but run by Staffordshire County Council so we go reduced entrance too. We are moored just looking over the parkland so it was only a short walk to the entrance via the towpath and then over the Essex Pack Horse Bridge. The bridge originally had 40 arches to span the very wide River Trent at the confluence with the River Sow. It is now only 14 arches as the rivers have been constrained and the land drained since 1550 when it was built by the Earl of Essex. It is the longest original pack horse bridge in the country.

Essex Pack Horse Bridge. The parapets are low to allow for the panniers on the horses backs.

Shugborough Hall

In the 1690's Shugborough was bought by the Anson family. After several generations George Anson was the second son. As he knew he wouldn't inherit he went to sea at 14. He rose to be First Lord of the Admiralty. On the way he made a fortune and gave some of it to his brother Thomas to make Shugborough the grand place it is today. By coincidence Admiral Lord Anson was an MP for Hedon 1744 to 1747. It was when Hedon returned two MP's as a 'Rotten Borough'. I seem to remember he had something to do with the Shakespeare pub and the Anson Villas in Paull are named after him. Small world isn't it.

Stable Block. The wisteria is about 140 years old and is just coming into bloom.

We had a quick look at the Hall and then went round the servants quarters where there were many displays of the workings of the house. There was also a museum of the district with lots of exhibits and information. It was like the Tardis and we were over 2 hours going round. We then went for a cup of tea before 'doing' the house properly. This took us another two hours. Shugborough was the home of the Earl of Lichfield, or Patrick Lichfield who was the famous photographer and when he died in 2005 his family did not require the apartments and so that have been restored to the 1960's to give a foil to the 1700's house. Again there was loads to see and learn from the guides. After the tour we didn't have long to look round the gardens etc so we had a quick walk around before closing time. There is still ots to see at the working farm and craft workshops, and various ruins and follies about the place.

Helen smiling on the bridge to the Cat Monument' despite the wind and cold.

Ruins at the bottom of the garden made up of bits of the old buildings.

We got back to the boat and the weather was calling out for the stove to be lit, so we did. I wonder how many times we will light it before we can rely on the weather.

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