On our last trip over to the UK we spent a lovely morning touring Attingham Park a perfect example of Georgian architecture located close to the village of Atcham in Shropshire.
If you're a Downton Abbey fan you'll like this story.
Here's a brief history.......................
Attingham was built between 1772 and 1785 by George Steuart for Noel Hill, 1st Baron Berwick. There was already a house on the site, called Tern Hall, which was incorporated into the new building.
Tern Hall is the lower building on the left
which was incorporated into Attingham Park in the 1780's
The 1st Baron was a politician and friend of the then Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger,.
He made his fortune through politics and business and with his wife Anne had six children, the only children ever to live at Attingham Park.
The 2nd Lord Berwick was Thomas who inherited the title at the tender age of 19. He remained unmarried until he was 41 when he married 17 year old Sophia Dubochet.
Having always lived an extravagant life Thomas was forced to auction off many of the contents of Attingham Park before being declared bankrupt in 1827 at which time he and Sophia fled to Italy to escape their creditors.
Thomas died, childless, in exile in 1832.
At the time of the bankruptcy auctions Thomas' younger brother, William, (3rd Lord Berwick) was the ambassador to Italy. He attempted to buy back as many auctioned pieces as possible and reinstated them at Attingham alongside 18th century Italian furniture acquired during his ambassadorship.
When he inherited the title he moved into Attingham with his Italian mistress who bore him several illegitimate children who would not inherit.
The Baronetcy passed to a younger brother Richard, a clergyman, who had never expected to inherit the title. However, he very much enjoyed living the life of a country gentleman and once again the Berwick family fortunes were depleted. The estate's very extensive wine cellars were especially diminished by the 4th Lord Berwick.
Although a confirmed bachelor Richard fathered many illegitimate sons which meant that the title continued.
His son Richard became the 5th Lord, he restored the family's fortunes creating a model farm and establishing a nationally famous herd of Herefordshire cattle.
His brother the 6th Lord was a 60 year old military man when he inherited the title, like Richard, he was childless and never resided at Attingham Park.
The 7th Lord wasn't a direct descendent of the Parson and came to the title through another branch of the family. He married a Swedish woman, together they were content to spend their days sailing the Mediterranean and spending the Berwick fortune, they never lived at Attingham.
|Downstairs: the Butler's pantry, Housekeepers Parlour and Estate Managers Office.|
During the First Word War Thomas, 7th Lord Berwick, let Attingham Park to a tenant who established a hospital for wounded soldiers.
After the war Thomas married Theresa Hulton in 1919 and mortgaged the house to facilitate the purchase of paintings, sculptures, carpets and furnishings necessary because the tenants of the house had been very neglectful and many of the rooms were uninhabitable. Thomas and Theresa made the restoration of the house their life's work, selling 4000 of the estates 8000 acres to finance the work.
When Thomas died in 1947 he left the house to the National Trust who leased it to Sir George Trevelyan who then set up an Adult Education College.
In the 1990's the National Trust began to painstakingly restore and renovate the house, I particularly enjoyed seeing the "Downstairs" rooms which have been wonderfully recreated.
Whilst we were touring the house we came across TV presenter Alistair Appleton with an "Escape to the Country" film crew in tow. I'm very much looking forward to watching that episode in the next series.
My internet connection this weekend is a little hit and miss, hopefully normal service will be resumed in time for MM.
Please go ahead and linkup as usual however it might take me a little longer to visit your blogs this week.