Garden team to expand at Shugborough Estate as National Trust takes control

The National Trust is adding another garden to its portfolio by taking back control of Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire and is planning a 'significant shift' outdoors.

Shugborough Estate and gardens. Image: Flickr/Creative Commons/Bs0u10e0
Shugborough Estate and gardens. Image: Flickr/Creative Commons/Bs0u10e0

Staffordshire County Council held a 99-year lease for the grade-I listed property and 364 hectare grade-II* park farm and walled garden since 1966 but has given up the lease to save money.  The National Trust (NT) takes back control on 1 November.

The council had been losing around £650,000 a year running Shugborough and said it expects to save £35m by giving it back to the trust. Of the 68 staff members, 12 are transferring to trust employ and 56 are being made redundant, of which 18 were permanent staff members.

Shugborough’s two gardeners are staying, however, and the NT plans to recruit a lead gardener to join them.

Prior to the lease being discussed, the NT commissioned landscape architecture firm Cookson and Tickner to produce a Parkland Management Plan, in 2014. Now it will close the garden for the winter to undertake improvement works. Fence clearance, planting, reducing roadways and restoring the historic landscape are planned and will be done in-house in preparation for reopening on 21 March 2017.

A NT spokeswoman said: "A significant shift is being made towards the outdoors at Shugborough. This will mean that we will take away stock fencing and open up new estate walks to take in the monuments and follies that pepper the 900 acres of historic Grade I landscape. Other work, such as restoring the Samuel Hill walled garden will take longer."  

The trust said it will bring more volunteers and plans to open year-round.

As part of the agreement, Staffordshire County Council has said it would give the trust £20.5m, spread evenly over three years, towards future grounds maintenance and general repair costs.
Shugborough was one of the manors of the bishops of Lichfield in the Middle Ages and the current house dates back to 1694.

It was once home to the Queen’s cousin, photographer Lord Lichfield, the 5th Earl of Lichfield, who died in 2005.

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