"It was my luck to pick a day when a massive festival was being held on the Estate; I didn’t know it was on on the day I’d picked to visit…"
Shugborough Hall is a National Trust holding, and as ever for such properties is very well maintained and cared for, both in the Hall itself and around the Estate in general.
I will start with my usual bugbear; camera bags (and other bags)! They seemed very relaxed, giving advice as to where one might encounter difficulties, rather than taking money for entry to the Hall and then insisting you leave your bag in some unsecured room. A big thumbs up to Shugborough for that one!
Entry to the Hall and Estate are charged at £15 per adult, giving you entry to the Hall, Estate and Servants’ Quarters, with guided tours of the Mansion House between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm; I believe after that, you are free to wander the Hall by your own devices. Car parking is £3, and is refunded (at the time of writing!) when you purchase any ticket for access to the Hall or Estate.
Shugborough Hall was actually built around the end of the 17th century by William Anson, though his family had owned the land and previous mansion house on the site for two generations previously. The mansion house eventually passed to the First Earl of Lichfield and, most recently, to the Fifth Earl of Lichfield, Patrick Anson – who I discovered was a professional fashion photographer and fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and British Institute of Professional Photography – before agreement to lease was reached with the National Trust.
Various tributes are displayed to Patrick Anson’s skill as a photographer around the Hall, and I have paid my own small respect to him with a photograph of one of his portraits in the Hall with his Labrador, Drum, in my mini-gallery below.
Shugborough is another Hall that seems to break the mold of being a bit fusty and old-feeling inside. It is well-kept and fresh inside, and the colours of rooms and exhibits is quite stunning – you can see a few of these exemplified in my mini-gallery, and I hope you will also agree with these sentiments from what you see. As usual, this level of maintenance meant I enjoyed my tour round the Hall a great deal.
The rooms are not extravagant, but are reasonably sized and, indeed, the part of the tour around the living quarters shows a family who use a kitchen, bedrooms, have guest bedrooms, etc, of a scale that anyone can recognise and identify with. The bedrooms – the purple and yellow rooms – are also shown below.
One thing that did bug me – more as a photographer than a visitor – was that there didn’t appear to be any straight lines or right angles in the plastering and décor of each room! Whenever I tried to take a shot with leading lines and straight edges, something was always out of kilter (and it wasn’t me)! Ultimately, I took shots of the rooms, where possible, from oblique angles to hide this ‘problem’, as every direct on image just looked odd.
Due to the festival, I wasn’t able to go around the gardens, and time constraints kept me away from the Servant’s quarters and associated museum. I did get to go around the gardens to the rear of the Hall, and from there to the Island Arboretum. I found the latter particularly charming, as it gave an insight into the childhoods of the residents, and let me take in some river wildlife and boating shed. A nice, quiet walk with some lovely sights.
My 14-24 mm f/2.8 saw a lot of action in the Hall, though the 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens also came out for while; in fact, I found that I was swapping between the two frequently enough that I wished I’d brought a second camera body along with me – not my usual thing to do when on an outing, as I like to keep them relaxed.
I did note that civil wedding ceremonies are conducted at Shugborough Hall, either in the Mansion House Saloon (images 9 and 10 in my mini-gallery) or the House of the Winds (which I didn’t have time to visit), and that there are possibilities for your wedding breakfast and reception on the Estate grounds. Have a look at the link above if you’re interested in Shugborough Hall as a possible wedding venue.
I had an excellent day. There is a great deal more to do at Shugborough than there are at other, similar locations, and it will make a full day’s visit for adults and families alike. I seriously recommend a visit and, if you’re in the market(!), consideration as your wedding venue.
All the best,
Chasing Rays Photography.