Thursday, 27 June 2019

Shugborough Hall NT

Hi there everyone 😀

A couple of weeks ago we headed out on another bit of a random meander, not sure where we would end up but wanting to have a look at a new place to eat that I'd come across on another blog that I follow.

It's the Canalside Farm, Shop and Cafe in Great Haywood, and it looked like it might be a good spot for meeting up with friends and having a walk, followed by something nice to eat ... but of course, we needed to test it out first.

We managed to get there early enough to take advantage of the breakfast menu. It was really busy but we managed to find a table that was reserved, but not for an hour or so. Martin went for the full English, but I had oat cakes and they were fab ...
The menu looked really good, as did all of the food that we saw being served. There was lots of seating outside and they did a really nice looking cream tea menu ... including a gentleman's afternoon tea.

The Cafe sits right alongside the Trent & Mersey Canal and there are lots of walks and bike rides in the area, taking in both Cannock Chase and the Shugborough Estate. Before we left we picked up a handful of cards with lots of different routes on and will definitely be coming back over this way again ...
Having finished breakfast we had a mooch around the farm shop before deciding we would head for Shugborough Hall, to make a long awaited return visit to see if we could manage to visit The Lichfield Apartments, which had been closed on our last visit.

It was a short, but lovely drive, through Tixall village, to Shugborough and we were delighted to find the apartments open. We picked up timed tickets at the entrance kiosk and had plenty of time so headed for the walled garden, which had pretty much been under construction on our last visit.

It's now in full operational order and whilst there wasn't that much in flower, what there was was lovely ... and some of my favourites ... plenty of allium ...
 

 
... cornflowers ...
... and as for the foxgloves, I have never seen such a fabulous display ...

There has been a lot of work done on the restoring of The Head Gardener's House, with a re-imagined dahlia glasshouse, made from willow, mirroring the shape of the front of the building ...
It's been planted with dahlias of all shapes and sizes and I'm sure these will be stunning in the summer ... maybe cause for another visit 😀

Although we've been to Shugborough many times, we've never really explored the farm area, but as we had plenty of time today, we decided to have a look. We were both pleasantly surprised with how much there was to see and how many of the buildings were open and ready to be explored. I didn't take any photos but it was definitely worth the look.

We decided that we would walk through the estate to the main house and have a pit stop in the cafe, which would pretty much take us up to our visiting time for The Lichfield Apartments.
We wandered past the Temple of the Winds and the longhorn cattle ...


... and just about managed to find a table in the cafe before the heavens opened. Perfect timing and chance to enjoy a cream tea before having the regulatory quick look in the gift shop ...
... before presenting ourselves at the apartment ready and eager to explore how the 'other half' really did live in the more modern of times ...
We rang the bell and waited to be greeted. You aren't allowed to take any photographs inside the apartments, but they are truly fascinating from the minute you step over the threshold.

There is plenty to see ... Patrick Lichfield's private office with his year planners showing where he was at different times of the year and lots of his photography equipment; his sitting room; bedrooms; bathrooms; the breakfast room; a very ordinary 70s style kitchen and, not to forget, the cocktail cabinet in the bedroom corridor.

There are lots of photographs from all over the world ... off royalty, film stars ... formal and informal and anecdotes that really raise a smile ... it was a real treat.

It was also really interesting to see how the Earl would have lived in the apartment, whilst the rest of the Hall was open to the public. It really was very homely and didn't feel that 'stately' at all ... although it's fair to say that it doesn't seem, at the height of his photography career, he would have spent much time at home at all.

We really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend a visit ... for us, it was far more interesting than the rest of the hall, though only the ground floor of that is open at the moment.

That was it then really for our visit. We decided to take the easy option and wait for the buggy for a lift back to the car park, as neither of us fancied the walk ...
Shugborough is a fabulous property to visit. We only really scratched the surface today. There are lots of other gardens to explore, follies to hunt out around the estate and a fabulous servants' quarters to visit ... I guess that is one of the big advantages of being members of the National Trust ... it doesn't matter if we don't see everything on this visit ... we can go again ... and again ... and even again if we fancy it 😀

Next time, we might just do it accompanied with an afternoon tea at the Canalside Cafe 😀

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