Modified Date :
Shugborough Hall and
Hall is the ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield and it is situated
in a river valley on the edge of Cannock Chase in the heart of
It is Owned by the
National Trust, the house is financed and administered by Staffordshire
In 1624, 8 acres of land together with a Manor House were purchased at
the time by
William Anson, a local lawyer, for the princely sum of £1000.
The story of Shugborough really begins 300 years ago in 1693 when
also called William (1656-1720) demolished the manor house and built a
which forms the centre of the house today. The transformation of that
medium sized country house
into a magnificent Georgian Mansion was carried out between 1745 and
1748 by the
architect Thomas Wright (1711-1786), who added the pavilions either side
of the 17th century block.
It was the two great grandsons of the first William Anson who were
responsible for these
important changes. Thomas (1695 - 1773), born in 1695, inherited the
house, and it is his passion
for the classical arts, influenced by his grand tour of Europe, that we
in the house today, particularly in the rococo plasterwork of the dining
room and library.
But it was his daring and adventurous brother George (1697 - 1762), born
who provided the funding for these alterations.
Anson married Lady Elizabeth Yorke, daughter of the first Earl of
Hardwick in 1748. They had no children and on his death his brother
Thomas inherited the fortune. With this fortune Thomas was able to
further his passion for classical architecture.
Anson joined the navy at the age of 14, and through his exciting navy
career brought fame,
fortune and prestige to the Anson family name. In 1747 he was created
Lord Anson and in 1751 was promoted to the first Lord of the Admiralty.
We remember him best for his incredible voyage of circumnavigation of
the globe between 1740 – 1744. He bought back with him a beautiful
collection of Chinese wares, which is still displayed in the house
During that eventful voyage, Anson’s ship, the Centurion, after
encountering many hardships and losing most of its crew, successfully
fought and captured a Spanish treasure galleon (Nuestra Señora de
Covadonga). The treasure amounting to £400,000, was one of the largest
prizes ever taken at sea by an English captain. Some of his fortune was
used to develop Shugborough and acquire more land.
Thomas Anson was a founder member of the Dilettanti Society, established
for the encouragement of Greek classical art. His friend James Stuart
was commissioned to build a series of eight
monuments in the parkland. He never married and on his death the estate
passed on to his sister’s
son George Adams. George Adams assumed the name and arms of Anson; when
he died the estate became his son Thomas'. Thomas Anson made great
changes to Shugborough.
Thomas Anson is listed nineteenth in the list of members of the Society
of Dilettanti which was drawn up on the 6th March 1736. He joined at the
same time as a Cheshire friend, William Degge,
whose brother Simon had joined the Royal Society with him in 1730.
The Society of Dilettanti had been founded by Sir Francis Dashwood and
other travellers in Italy including Charles Sackville, Earl of Middlesex
and Lord Boyne, in 1731. At first it was a club for gentlemen who had
visited Italy though Horace Walpole said the real qualification was that
they were drunk. It only gradually started to promote serious interest
in the arts of the classical world.
There are no records of Thomas Anson’s involvement with the Society, and
yet the evidence of
his support for James “Athenian” Stuart suggests he was a key figure in
encouraging the Greek Revival.
James Stuart, later known as “Athenian Stuart”, and Nicholas Revett
announced their plans to
travel to Greece and measure and draw Greek architecture in 1748. They
travelled to Greece in 1751, via Venice, where Sir James Gray, the
British Resident, nominated them for membership
of the Society of Dilettanti.
The first volume of the Antiquities of Athens (not published in 1762,
and subscribed to by both
Thomas and George Anson) illustrated mainly smaller late classical
by chance or design, were suitable for copying as garden monuments, or
to supply features for other architectural projects.
Official Website Of Shugborough Hall and Estate Stafford
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