Although Shugborough is not far from me, last year was the first time I had visited for many years. I noticed there had been a lot of changes since my last visit. The car park had moved which meant a nice leisurely stroll through the estate to get to the house and gardens. More rooms were open to the public which made it more relevant to the late Earl Patrick Lichfield, the world renowned English photographer.
The Mansion that we see today was developed from a three-storied house that was built in 1693 after the demolition of the original manor house. The transformation of the three story house into a Georgian Mansion took place between 1745 and 1748 by the architect Thomas Wright, who added the pavilions either side of the 17th century block.
In 1624 the land formed part of the Estates of the Bishop of Lichfield and at that time William Anson, a local lawyer purchased eight acres of land along with the manor house.
The house passed on through the Anson family until there was no heir to inherit and the house was passed to a nephew who assumed the Anson name. The estate continued to pass on through the line and in 1831 the coronation honours announced the first Earl of Lichfield.
In 1960 Patrick Anson (Patrick Lichfield), inherited the Earldom from his paternal grandfather and became the 5th Earl. Patrick was famous for his unique style of portraiture. He was chosen to take photographs for the Royal Family and was the official photographer at the Prince and Princess of Wales’ wedding in 1981 and also for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. Shugborough was the setting for many of his photoshoots.
A small representative selection of his photographs and a full biography can be found here.
It had always been his grandfather’s wish to have the house open to the public and in 1966 the National Trust took ownership of the house, whilst the local council committed to lease, conserve and maintain the property for 99 years.
Patrick continued to live in private apartments within the house until his death in 2005. He also created an oak arboretum on the Island facing the house, which he continued to use. Upon his death his son became 6th Earl.
Today Shugborough is a fully working historic estate. The restored working environments include working kitchens, dairy, water mill, brew house and farm all manned by historic costumed guides.