Although the weather yesterday wasn’t as bright as had been forecast a few days previously, we thought we would miss any showers that came along, so decided to push ahead with our visit to Attingham Park, a late 18th century mansion just southeast of Shrewsbury. And apart from one short shower, the weather did behave.
Built in 1785 for the 1st Lord Berwick, Noel Hill, politician and supporter of William Pitt the Younger, Attingham Park replaced an earlier house, Tern Hall. It had a chequered history, and the estate today (at around 3500 acres) is half the size it was at the beginning of the 19th century. The Berwick title became extinct in 1953 on the death of the ninth baron.
But it has a cornucopia of treasures inside, many collected by the 2nd and 3rd barons during their travels in Europe. A picture gallery and staircase, designed by architect John Nash (who designed other famous buildings such as te Brighton Pavilion and extensions to Buckingham Palace) were added in 1805. The roof of the gallery – considered a piece of outstanding architecture in its own right, but which leaked from the very beginning – is undergoing extensive refurbishment today. Apart from one or two glimpses here and there, the roof is not visible from the inside, but I’m sure it will look magnificent once fully restored.
Visitors to Attingham Park today have extensive access to rooms on three floors – in fact one of the better properties in this respect that the National Trust manages. Together with long walks through the Park, a tour of the impressive walled garden, as well as the house itself, Attingham Park is certainly worth a visit.
But as the title of this post suggests, this was not my first visit to Attingham Park. For almost 25 years from 1948, it was run as an adult education centre, and the warden was Sir George Trevelyan (of the Wallington House in Northumberland Treveleyans). In 1966 ( I think it was) I attended a weekend residential course – I was in high school at the time. I don’t remember seeing may of the treasures that were on display yesterday. Maybe we were kept well away.