Shugborough Hall Part One was an introduction into the history of Shugborough and the various visitor attractions on offer. Part Two is a more in depth description of the mansion, discussing both the state rooms and the recently opened private apartment, there are however several rooms that I have omitted, due to the sheer number of rooms available to view.
When you first enter the mansion from the portico, you are greeted by a grand red room adorned with classical sculptures and columns forming an oval shape. The room has several doors leading off to the Verandah Corridor, Saloon, Staircase Hall and Bust Parlour (in clockwise order).
Rather than having free reign to view whichever room you like, in whatever order you like, due to the vast number of visitors daily, you explore the mansion in an anti-clockwise order beginning with the Bust Room, Anteroom then Dining Room.
The Dining Room at Shugborough Hall was originally used as a Drawing Room, with doors leading to a bed chamber which is now the Red Drawing Room. The room has been described as the finest Rococo interior in England, adorned with paintings of Roman ruins bought by Thomas Anson during his Grand Tour in the mid eighteenth century.
The table is set with the state dinner service and a rather impressive, and substantial, candelabra. The chairs in the dining room are known as Ann Margaret chairs. Ann Margaret was the wife of Viscount Anson, and chose chairs with a small seat and low back which would be of a slight discomfort to guests and ensure they did not outstay their welcome. It is quite an ingenious idea really, though I would have to have more comfortable seating for my favoured guests and of course myself.
The Dining Room, like several of the other rooms has a wonderfully ornate plasterwork ceiling. The ceiling is a depiction of Guido Reni’s Aurora.
Moving on from the Dining Room and you walk back through the Anteroom, through the Blue Drawing Room and into the Red Drawing Room.
Red Drawing Room
The Red Drawing Room was originally a bedroom until converted into a drawing room in 1794. Much of the furniture in the room is French was purchased by the second Earl of Lichfield after it’s earlier contents were sold off during the Great Sale.
Those who have read my earlier blog posts will have noticed that I have a penchant for chandeliers, well I was not disappointed when I walked into the Red Drawing Room. The room boasts an incredible chandelier of over three hundred droplets and is likely original to the room.
After looking around the Red Drawing Room, you walk through a small passage way and into the Saloon.
The Saloon is a grand, long room overlooking the formal terraced garden and the River Sow. The room was originally the dining room until Samuel Wyatt, when extending and remodelling parts of the mansion, created a reception room for the visit of the Prince Regent, a visit that did not occur. As part of Wyatt’s extension of what is now the Saloon, a second fireplace was added along with the same columns found in the Entrance Hall.
Walking into the room I immediately thought it would make a fine ballroom (though it lacked a chandelier) and was not surprised to discover that it is the room used for wedding ceremonies when they are held in the mansion.
After the saloon you briefly walk back into the Entrance Hall and through the first door on the left, leading to the Staircase Hall and then the first floor where the State Bedroom and the Private Apartment are located.
State Bedroom Suite
The State Bedroom Suite was reserved for royal visits or very important guests. The suite consists of a sitting room, bedroom and dressing room (one of the only dressing rooms in the house not converted into an en suite bathroom).
The suite was set up in readiness for a visit by the Prince Regent however as he failed to turn up, the suite was not used until a visit by Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) and her mother the Duchess of Kent, during their stay at Shugborough in 1832.
Interestingly, the couch visible in the photo above is called a chaperone seat. A courting couple would sit at either side of the seat with their chaperone sat between them in the middle. The centre seat has a low back and is made to be uncomfortable for the chaperone, to ensure they did not fall asleep.
Whilst on tour, Princess Victoria would take her own bed when staying at Country Estates. Unfortunately, the bed in the State Bedroom at Shugborough is not the bed the princess slept in, the princess’ bed was sold during the Great Sale in 1842.
Located on the wall between the bed and the Sitting Room door, is a sketch of Princess Victoria and her mother, given to the Anson family by Queen Victoria many years later as a thank you gift.
The State Bedroom is reputed to by haunted by the ghost of Harriet Georgina Hamilton, wife of the second Earl of Lichfield. Though the room steward had never seen Harriet’s ghost, she did say that the pet dog of Patrick Anson (fifth Earl of Lichfield), would not enter the State Bedroom, but would happily wander into many of the other rooms in the house.
After the State Bedroom, you next wander around the Private Apartment, which I will discuss later on, after describing the remaining rooms long open to the public.
The Anson Room located on the ground floor, one of the first rooms you see after visiting the Private Apartment, holds various Anson family memorabilia. Walking into the room I was somewhat in awe of the double desk in the middle of the room. If this were my house, the Anson Room would be my study/office, ideal in it’s location as the Library is next door.
Atop of the desk, is a map of George Anson’s voyage on the HMS Centurion, to seek out and capture Spanish galleons.
Located in the Anson Room is the sword presented to George Anson after his capture of the Spanish galleon Covodonga by the Spanish ship’s captain. Above the sword is a painting by John Cleveley of the battle.
After perusing the Anson Room, a door in the corner of the room leads to the Library.
The Library is an impressive room (finally, after a several less than inspiring libraries), half part of the original house, half part of the wing extension. The room, though already spacious, is given an illusion of being larger still, due to the use of mirrors next to the arch columns to project a continuous line of bookcases, the far end of the room is actually slightly narrower.
I could very well imagine myself sat at the desk in the library writing my blog posts, or perhaps even writing novels, with a surrounding such as this how could one not resort to writing novels. I doubt however, that I could resort to writing novels like those of Lorna Warwick, or to chose a real life equivalent, E. L. James.
Exiting via the door disguised as a mirror and you are once again on the Verandah Passage, carrying on down this corridor, adorned with many animal heads and the figurehead from the HMS Centurion, you will come to the Verandah Room.
The Verandah Room houses a collection of eighteenth century Chinese porcelain dinner service commemorating George Anson’s circumnavigation of the globe in the HMS Centurion. Also housed in the room, though not shown in the image above, is a model of the Centurion completed in 1747 on loan from the National Maritime Museum.
In the early twentieth century, the Verandah rooms were converted into entertainment spaces required of an Edwardian gentleman. The spacious billiards room we see today was created, along with an area to sit and play cards.
The Verandah Passage leads back to the Entrance Hall, through which you exit the mansion.
The Private Apartment was the residence of Patrick Anson the fifth Earl of Lichfield until his death in 2005. Since 2011, the Private Apartment has been open to the public and is accessible from the corridor just off State Bedroom.
When first entering the Private Apartment, there is a small exhibition of Patrick Anson’s photography including photos of family, models, celebrities and the Royal Family.
Family Sitting Room
The Breakfast Room is a circular room located at the end the wing nearest the Servant’s Quarters. Set for breakfast including a selection of cereals in jars and a tray of toast, the Breakfast Room is a lovely room. Perhaps my favourite aspect of he room is the item located on one of the window ledges…
Being a massive fan of tea, bordering on obsessive even if you take into consideration my extensive collection, I was delighted to see such large box of tea, I would like very much to have one of these in my collection, though perhaps with special compartments for loose tea rather than teabags, loose tea is infinitely better than bagged.
Walking through the second door of the Breakfast Room and you will enter the Private Apartment’s kitchen. Exiting the kitchen and walking back down the corridor, the last room you will visit in the apartment is the Four Poster Room.
Four Poster Room
After viewing all of the private rooms, you head back down the stairs and onto the Verandah Passage to view the rest of the public rooms I have already discussed.
Part Three of the Shugborough series will describe the Servant’s Quarters, the buildings adjacent to the Mansion, housing the Laundry, Kitchen, Brewhouse, Coach house and County Museum.
- http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate/ – National Trust Webpage
- http://www.shugborough.org.uk – Official Shugborough Website
- http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/search/highlights/Shugborough-Hall,-Staffordshire/1 – Items of interest from Shugborough Hall
- http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Mythology/Master6.html – Guido Reni’s Aurora