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in England

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Maverick's Big Adventure

Shugborough Hall
an exquisite National Trust stately home
in Staffordshire, England

The Shugborough estate was the official residence of the Bishops of Lichfield until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. There's money in organised religion.

The estate then had a succession of owners until 1624 when it was purchased by William Anson, a lawyer, of Dunston, Staffordshire. Apparently he paid just for £1,000. That's the power of inflation I suppose.

In 1693, William Anson's grandson, also called William, demolished the existing manor house and constructed a three-story building which forms the central part of what we see here today.

When the 4th Earl of Lichfield died in 1960, the estate was given to the National Trust in lieu of death duties. the trust then leased the estate to Staffordshire County Council until 2016 when management of the estate was returned to the National Trust. The National Trust visitor center is open between March and December. Enjoy the mansion the county museum, working farm, water mill, walled garden, shop and cafeteria.

Park Farm has been an integral part of the Estate since 1806. Although Staffordshire County Council rehomed many of the animals, the National Trust has now reintroduced them. This means that visitors can now enjoy seeing the longhorn cattle, southdown sheep, and it is hoped, eventually poultry and pigs which were all important features of the historic landscape.

Farms are an important feature of many National Trust estates. The Trust is committed to working to the RSPCA's Freedom Foods high standards of animal welfare. One of the requirements is for animals to have plenty of space so low stocking densities are normal on National Trust estates.

Hall Field, which lies to the east the hall, comprises of curving approach drives and is laid to permanent pasture. with mature specimen trees.

The 18th-century Shepherd's Monument bears a mysterious inscription displaying a secret coded message, just a sequence of letters, O U O S V A V V, between the letters D M. One theory is the curious sequence of letters was left by the Knights Templar as a clue to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. The monument has been internationally well-known since 1982 when the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh drew attention to this theory. However as The Templars were officially disbanded by Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne in 1314 it would seem unlikely that their secret message should appear on an 18th century monument.

Another possibility has been proposed by an America, Keith Massey. The former Arabic translator and school Latin teacher, suggests the letters stand for Oro Ut Omnes Sequantur Viam Ad Veram Vitam - "I pray that all may follow the Way to true life."

Mr. Massey has said: I believe I've solved the mystery. I believe my proposal provides a sensible and credible interpretation to this long-standing mystery. My solution provides a straightforward and grammatical sentence, all parts of which are attested in tomb inscriptions and texts predating or contemporary with the creation of the Shugborough inscription.

The Chinese House was a folly of Admiral Anson in the 18th century. He had just returned from a voyage round the world, filled with new ideas. This is a single storey rectangular building with plastered walls and pyramidal leaded roof with bold eaves. An interesting feature is the elaborately fenestrated wooden windows. There is still in situ an alcove decorated with red lacquer fretwork end gilded pillars. The cornice is decorated in red, blue, gold and white.

Another folly on the estate is the 18th century Ruin. The Ruin was originally more extensive and featured a gothic pigeon house. Parts got destroyed during heavy floods in the late 18th Century.

This listed Romantic Ruin, incorporates earlier Tudor material which may have belonged to the Bishops of Lichfield's manor house.

Repair works revealed the remains of ditch which may have formed a moat around the original building.

Behind the mansion you will find the magnificent formal garden. Take a break on a bench to take in the beautiful seasonal blooms on the terraces.

The old service and stable block with its clock

A Pictorial Guide To Shugborough Hall & Estate
by Jason Kirkham

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