Sunday, 27 March 2011

Shugborough - Part 4. It's people

This is the final Shugborough posting and is about some of the people of Shugborough and their, sometimes, amusing stories! The photos are random ones you haven't seen yet. Below is the stairwell leading to the private apartments.

Shugborough has two railway lines running through the estate which made it of some strategic importance during the 2nd World War.

Patrick Lichfield's grandfather was in the Home Guard during this time and was responsible for manning a post on the line to protect it. He was there every day, but had his butler serve him with port and cake during the afternoon, followed by an early finish from guard duties at 4pm. He was apparently certain that no Germans would attack at night.

Apparently he would also go to Home Guard meetings in nearby Stafford, but was too lazy to walk from the station on his return, so he simply pulled the Emergency Cord to stop the train in Shugborough, and paid the resulting fine, and got off.

Anecdotes suggest that when Patrick Lichfield tried this himself, he jumped out into a 6 foot snowdrift.

The Walled Garden was also supposedly turned over for food production during the war and staffed by ladies from the Land Army. However the current user had been growing prize sweet peas and saw no reason to stop. He frequently had to get the girls to hide his prized specimens during the Land Commission inspections.  Not quite in the spirit of the thing.

Very rare Chinese painted mirror.

Uncomfortable Chairs

Whizzing back to this photo of the chairs in the dining room. They are, along with those  in the Verandah Room, known as the Ann Margaret Chairs.

This charming lady was said to be "a formidable character," which is just a polite way of saying that she was a bad tempered, bossy, possibly arrogant member of the aristocracy, and that everyone was probably afraid of but couldn't do much about!

She specifically chose these chairs because of the small seats and how the backs made them very uncomfortable to sit in.
This was to ensure her guests didn't outstay their welcome.

Origins of the word Loo?

In the UK we use the euphamism "loo" as a slightly less direct way of saying lavatory/toilet. It's origins are uncertain but Shugborough lays claim to it through Lady Louisa Anson, (eldest daughter of the 1st Earl).

She was also, apparently, yet another surly, unkind, female member of the family.  She married a man with a very large nose, who became very deaf in later life. Because of his deafness, she granted herself a licence to speak on his behalf (unusual in polite society of the day), and she often caused offence.

During a visit to the house by the young Dukes of Abercorn, they apparently drew attention to her "potty mouth" by taking the name plate off her bedroom door, and putting it on the door of the WC instead. Legend says that the bathroom was known as the Lady Lou thereafter.

I'll leave you to decide whether to believe the etymology of that one.

That's all from Shugborough apart from a slight moan from me. Entry to the house and garden is covered by National Trust membership, but if you want entry to the farm, the servants quarters or museum, you had to pay extra, and quite a lot extra I thought. So we didn't. If you're going for a whole day and have travelled a fair distance, then you might think differently about the cost, but I'm afraid I can't tell you if the extras are worth the money.

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