The Shugborough estate was owned by the Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1540 and thereafter passed through several hands until it was purchased in 1624 by William Anson, a lawyer, of Dunston, Staffordshire for £1000. In 1693, William Anson's grandson, also called William, demolished the existing manor house and constructed a three story building which stills forms the central part of the hall. William's elder son, Thomas Anson MP (1695-1773), further extended the house in the 1740s, adding two pavilions flanking either side of the central block. It was Thomas's younger brother, however, that would fund these changes; Admiral George Anson, created Lord Anson in 1747 and First Lord of the Admiralty in 1751, amassed a great fortune during his naval career and when he died without issue he left the majority to his elder brother. Thomas also died childless and the estate passed to his sister's son, George Adams, who adopted the surname Anson by royal licence.
In 1806, George's son Thomas was created Viscount Anson. The 2nd viscount, would be created Earl of Lichfield in the coronation honours of William IV. The Earl led an extravagant lifestyle and amassed several large debts, which, in 1842, forced him to sell the entire contents of the house in a two-week-long sale. While the 2nd earl did much to restore the house and contents to its former glory, by the time his son inherited the estate it was heavily mortgaged. In 1831, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, the future Queen Victoria, then 13, visited Shugborough with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, as part of an extensive tour of the country. The young princess stayed with many local landowners at the time, including the Earl of Shrewsbury. Passing from east to west through the southern part of the park is the Trent Valley Line, planned in 1845. It is carried under the landscaped grounds in a 776-yard tunnel and is thus largely invisible. The tunnel entrances, which are listed grade II, are notably ornamental, particularly the 1847 western entrance. An elegant stone bridge, also from 1847, about 350m north-west of the Lichfield Lodge, carries the drive to the Hall over the railway. The double-track line is part of the West Coast Main Line, running north-west between Colwich Junction and Stafford.
The state rooms at Shugborough Hall include The State Dining Room, The Red Drawing Room, The Library, The Saloon, The Verandah Room, The Anson Room and The State Bedroom. These contain some of the most opulent and highly decorated interiors in the hall. The Verandah Room contains a 208-piece porcelain dinner service commissioned to commemorate Admiral Anson's circumnavigation of the globe in HMS Centurion. The dinner service was offered to Admiral Anson in gratitude for assisting in fighting the huge fires that were destroying the merchant district in Canton. The State Bedroom overlooks the terrace and was occupied by Queen Victoria during her childhood visit. Like many landowners of his time, Thomas Anson took a keen interest in the landscaping of his parkland. The land around Shugborough was largely flat which ensured that tress, follies and water would play an important role in shaping the landscape. The grounds contain a number of follies, many of which, such as The Chinese House and two Chinese-style bridges, have a Chinese theme, in honour of Admiral George Anson.
The estate is marketed as "The Complete Working Historic Estate", which includes a working model farm museum dating from 1805 complete with a working watermill, kitchens, a dairy, a tea room, and rare breeds of farm animals. Originally restored in 1990, the estate's brewery is England's only log-fired brewery that still produces beer commercially. Previously used only on special occasions, the brewhouse has been a working exhibit since 2007, operated by Titanic Brewery. Difficult for more severely disabled people and for visitors with wheelchairs, since there are many steps up to, and inside the house. However, staff are available to help. A stair climber is also available for part access to ground floor. Please note that the first floor is inaccessible for wheelchairs or anyone unable to climb stairs. Assistance dogs are welcome. The estate is car free which offers safe walking and wheelchair routes across the estate. The paths throughout Shugborough feature lots of benches, shelters and adapted picnic tables for everyone to enjoy. The Shuttle transport is equipped to transport three wheelchair users, and it runs throughout the day from various shuttle stops. Three self drive Batri-cars are available for park and garden plus two new ‘off-road’ trampers accessing trails and parkland walks. These are available from the Ticket Office.
Staffordshire County Museum is housed in the Servants' Quarters of Shugborough Hall. The museum features a restored Victorian kitchen, laundry and brewhouse as well as permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. The Museum collects objects relating to Staffordshire life over the last 200 years. The museum exhibits objects from Staffordshire County Council's collections, which hold over 25,000 social history artefacts, 35,000 photographs and 1,800 items of fine and decorative art. The strength of the collections are items relating to domestic cooking, cleaning and laundry. Particular areas of collecting include costume and textiles, medicine, coins and medals, archives, social history and land transport. The large and varied photograph collection contains over 35,000 photographs covering Staffordshire places, buildings, people, trades, organisations, activities, entertainment, transport and events since the 1850s.
The museum houses a collection of internationally renowned horse-drawn carriages. These include carriages owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury at Ingestre, Staffordshire and the Dyott family of Lichfield, Staffordshire. The museum also houses the nationally significant Douglas Haywood Puppet Collection. Another highlight is the costume collection, which features costume and accessories from the last 400 years including wedding dresses, samplers and servants' costume. The museum holds a collection of shoes and boots from Lotus Ltd, Stafford and Stone's last shoe manufacturer. These collections are displayed in galleries which explore themes including health, toys and costume as well as within the restored Victorian servants' quarters, recreated school room, chemist and tailor's shops. The museum's agricultural collections are displayed at Shugborough Park Farm. Both the museum and the Hall have a large number of tactile exhibits for the visually impaired. The museum, in particular, is an excellent place to visit. Assistance dogs are welcome. There are disabled toilet facilities both here and in the House. There are Braille guides available in the Mansion House, Servants’ Quarters and Park Farm. Carers are Free
Location : Milford, Great Haywood, Stafford ST17 0XB
Transport: Stafford (National Rail) then bus (925). Bus Routes : Arriva bus 925 stops outside.
Opening Times : Closed Tuesdays, otherwise 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Adults £12.50; Concessions/Seniors £10.50; Children (5 - 15) £7.50
Tel: 0845 459 8900