Shugborough Hall Part Five: Gardens and Parkland

This final part in the Shugborough Hall series focuses on the various gardens and notable features of the nine hundred acre grounds.

Walled Garden

Walled Garden
Walled Garden

The Walled Gardens at Shugborough were built in 1805-1806 by Samuel Wyatt, to replace the original kitchen garden, located next to the Mansion. The original kitchen garden was seen as a blot on the landscape and the gardeners, unsightly.

The new Walled Garden was built half a mile from the Mansion and designed to allow the growth of fruit, vegetables and plants all year round. This was done by housing small furnaces in the walls, which were hollow, to create the effect of a mild-climate.

A house was built for the head gardener to live in, which can be seen in the photo above. As well as this, bothies were built along the north wall to provide living accommodation for young single gardeners. These have since been converted into workshops and shops selling crafts built on site.

Blacksmiths
Blacksmiths

The Walled Garden also features a staffed Blacksmiths and a table with goods for sale.

Honesty Box
Honesty Box

I’ve never seen an honesty box before, I only heard of them several weeks ago when watching ‘Country House Rescue’. There was some lavender on sale earlier in the day, though when I arrived only purple lettuce remained.

Formal Terrace

Formal Gardens
Formal Gardens

Walking down the Lady Walk at the side of the tea shop and National Trust shop, you arrive at the river side and the back of the Mansion. Leading from the Mansion to the river is the Formal Terrace gardens. Lined with yew trees and bordered with lavender the terraces are an elegant garden leading down to a towards a water(less) fountain.

The Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden

Next to the Formal Terrace is the Butterfly Garden, I remember when I was a child you were able to walk in this garden and run through arches.

The Lion Columns
The Lion Columns

At the far end of the Formal Terraces between the Mansion and Servant’s Quarters, there are two lion columns. These columns originate from a South East Indian temple and date from around 800 AD.

Chinese House & Island Garden

Chinese House & Island Garden Bridge
Chinese House & Island Garden Bridge

If you follow the riverside path through the gardens you come to a red bridge and next to it, the Chinese House. The Chinese House was built in 1747, one of the first examples in Britain of an oriental garden structure.

The Red Bridge leads to the Island Garden, which is home to a rather old and abandoned tennis court and home to Asian oak trees. A well hidden path in the corner of the Island Garden leads to Patrick Lichfield’s Arboretum, otherwise accessed by the Blue Bridge at the far end of the riverside walk.

Monuments

The Shugborough Estate is home to a great number of monuments, this next section will discuss a selection of these.

The Tower of the Winds

Tower of the Winds
Tower of the Winds

The Tower of the Winds was built in 1756, based on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. The basement used to house the estate’s dairy and later, a gambling den. The upper floor of the tower was designed by James Stuart as a banqueting room, the room is now used for wedding ceremonies, a smaller alternative to the Saloon in the Mansion.

Upper Tower Room

The upper floor has a very ornate ceiling which was based on a design from Nero’s Golden House in Rome.

Tower Ceiling
Tower Ceiling

Until severe flooding occurred on the estate in the late eighteenth century, the Tower stood beside a lake that was later drained to prevent floods reoccurring. Such a drastic action was done to prevent the the Tower suffering the same disastrous fate that it’s neighbour the Chinese Pagoda befell as a result of the flooding.

Watercolour by Nicholas Dall, at Shugborough showing the Triumphal Arch and Chinese Pagoda. ©National Trust.
Watercolour by Nicholas Dall, at Shugborough showing the Triumphal Arch and Chinese Pagoda. ©National Trust.

Triumphal Arch

Triumphal Arch
Triumphal Arch

The Triumphal Arch is my favourite of the monuments at Shugborough, set in the highest point of the Estate. When entering the exhibitor’s entrance of the Classic Vehicle Show, it was the first thing we saw.

The arch was originally designed to be a neo-classical feature but ended up being a memorial to George and Elizabeth Anson. Shortly after work began, Elizabeth died, followed soon after by George in 1762. After their deaths, sculptures of cenotaphs were added to the arch topped with busts of George and Elizabeth.

As I said in Part One, I couldn’t find the entrance to field leading to the Triumphal Arch until we were leaving (shortly before having cows block the road), I do so want to walk up to it and be photographed stood underneath, reason enough to visit again soon.

Doric Temple

Doric Temple
Doric Temple

The Doric Temple neo-greek monument based on the Temple of Hephaistos at the top of a hill overlooking Athens. The Doric Temple stood at the entrance of the original kitchen garden until the Walled Garden was built half a mile from the house in the early nineteenth century.

In front of the Temple, there is a lawn formally used as a bowling green and is home to the Great Yew: the widest yew tree in the British Isles.

The Shepherd’s Monument

Shepherd's Monument
Shepherd’s Monument

If you follow the riverside path and walk past the Chinese House and the Red Bridge you will come to the Shepherd’s Monument. The sculpture depicts Nicolas Poussin’s 1642 painting ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’, however with a number of changes.

Beneath the sculptured imaged a code is engraved, which nobody has yet been able to decipher.

The code reads:

O.U.O.S.V.A.V.V
D.                        M.

Some people have linked the monument and it’s mysterious code to the Holy Grail due to the family’s association with “free-thinking groups and societies”, when the monument was build. If that were so, it is a pity indeed that Shugborough did not feature in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ or the 2006 movie of the same name.

Arboretum 

Many owners of Country Estate’s wish to leave a lasting legacy of their tenure as “Lord of the Manor” so to speak, and Patrick Lichfield was no different. His legacy to the future of Shugborough Hall was the creation of the Arboretum on the river island, accessible by the blue and red bridges.

The Blue Bridge
The Blue Bridge

The Arboretum is home to a number of different types of trees from all over the world. The area by the Blue Bridge has a number of North American species, including an oak grown from an acorn taken from the lawn of the White House.

Walking through the Arboretum which is a long, pleasant and very quiet walk – I saw no one else whilst exploring – you come across not only different species of trees, but also several pieces of art.

One of several sculptures in the Arboretum
One of several sculptures in the Arboretum
Intimate seating area in the Arboretum opposite the Mansion
Intimate seating area in the Arboretum opposite the Mansion

The Arboretum boasts an exquisite view of the Mansion and in front of it, the River Sow. It is quite a shame that the weather was so changeable, much of it with heavy cloud cover, it would be such a lovely photo in the sunlight, or at dusk with the Mansion lit up! I recommend searching for evening shots of Shugborough Hall.

The Mansion from the Arboretum
The Mansion from the Arboretum

My visit to Shugborough Hall, despite the weather, really was fantastic, there is so much to do and see. I left feeling inspired to write not one but five blog posts, with an intention to visit again and also with a craving for country walks and horse riding – I can’t even ride a horse! I would highly recommend visiting if you are ever in the area.

Again I am uncertain as to the topic of my next blog post, I would quite like to try out a recipe for lavender shortbread, but I also feel like I should take advantage of the weather and visit somewhere else nearby, before the rain returns. We shall see!

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