When I have a bit of spare time on my hands I often choose to visit Attingham Park and take a relaxing stroll around the parkland. The estate is centred around the river Severn and the river Tern and is nearly 4,000 acres which is about half the size it would have been in the 1800s.
The mansion itself was built between 1782 and 1785 by Noel Hill; it replaced Tern Hall which was the original house on the site. Noel was a successful politician for which he was rewarded financially and given the title of 1st Lord Berwick in 1784. Not all of the Lords Berwick were quite so successful as Noel with the second Lord becoming bankrupt and the 6th and 7th Lords severely neglecting the estate which led to the 8th Lord having to sell off parts of the estate to enable the house to be restored.
There are several walks to choose from in the 370 acres of woodland within the estate. These woodlands are home to many species of wildlife including otters, dragonflies, as well as many species of birds and flowers. In late winter there are delightful patches of snowdrops followed by bluebells in spring.
The estate is also home to around 200 Fallow deer, which can be seen close up and feeding during the months from October to March. The deer park walk takes you past a 650 (!!!) year old Repton oak which is one of many ancient trees that can be seen in the woodlands there.
One of my favourite parts of the estate is the walled garden which is in the progress of being restored. The restoration commenced in 2008 and so far half of the garden is back in production. The garden, which is more than two acres was built in the 1870s and would have provided food for the whole household. During the 20th century the garden fell gradually into decline. The fruit trees had been ripped out, the well filled in so that could be turned into a football pitch. Nowadays the food produced in the garden is used for soups and salads in the tearoom. Some of the produce is also sold in the national trust shop.
Just outside the walled garden is a historically-listed bee house complete with traditional straw skeps which are fully occupied by bees. It is one of only two known Regency bee houses in the country.
People have been living in the area of the estate for about 4,000 years since the bronze age. There are no less than seven Scheduled Ancient Monuments on the estate. These include iron age settlements, saxon palaces, roman forts and one third of the Roman city of Viriconium whose public baths have been excavated and can been seen at the nearby site of Wroxeter. Ancient crop marks and a medieval roadway can also be found within the estate.
On his death the Thomas 8th Lord (Berwick) bequeathed the estate to the National Trust. He described his gift of Attingham as for public benefit. I can’t argue with him there. The estate has many educational opportunities for both adults and children and many people take the opportunity to visit and enjoy the estate.