Attingham, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, is a house with a fascinating history of failure, neglect and rebirth. Currently being brought back to life by the National Trust, the house, with its 18th century Italian furnishings,original Georgian interiors, serene deer park and woodland gardens, lavishly repays an unhurried visit.
The ionic columns of Attingham Hall's portico are an impressive sight at the end of the drive. The herd of longhorn cattle, grazing around it give the whole scene a bucolic, 18th century look.
A mixed herd of heritage and rare breed cattle regularly graze on the lawns of Attingham House. The cattle belong to the farmer who is the tenant of the estate's home farm.
The Drawing Room
The elegant Georgian drawing room at Attingham is furnished with 18th century Italian furniture, some of which belonged to Napoleon's sister.
A Candlelit Dinner
The dining room at Attingham is arranged for a Georgian dinner party, complete with simulated candlelight, so that visitors to the house can see how it would have looked with its silver, china, ormolu, crystal, mirrors and porcelain glittering in candlelight.
Portraits of the Ladies
Pictured here, some of the ladies associated in some way with Attingham, along with their accessories.
In the top row, a portrait of Lady Teresa Berwick, wife of the 8th Lord Berwick. They were the last of the family to actually live at Attingham in the late 19th and early 20th century. She is considered to be a saviour of the house. The coat she is wearing in the portrait is displayed, along with the portrait, in the drawing room of Attingham Hall.
In the bottom row, a portrait of Caroline Murat, Napoleon Buonaparte's sister and Queen of Naples. Though her portrait also hangs in the drawing room, she was not associated with the house. But her chaise longue, pictured lower right, part of the furnishings of her Italian palazzo, was among the 18th century Italian furnishings brought back to Attingham by the 3rd Lord Berwick, who was a diplomat.
The Sultana Room
This room, in the feminine wing of Attingham Park, would have been where the lady of the house entertained her less intimate acquaintances. Here they might play cards or music, or, as shown here, take fashionable afternoon tea on using the Georgian silver tea service.
Lady Berwick's Boudoir
The Boudoir, decorated with gilded cupids and other symbols of love, was created for the 1st Lady Berwick, as her own intimate space in the feminine wing of Attingham.
The Boudoir Ceiling
What appeared to be patina of age was, in fact, two centuries of soot, dust and dirt on Lady Berwick's Boudoir and ceiling. National Trust conservators cleaned it with cotton wool buds, dionised water and a special detergent to reveal its pristine, Georgian state.
The Octagon - Restored to Regency Splendor
The Octagon was the 2nd Lord Berwick's study and is a vibrant example of exuberant Regency decor. But it's striped silk draperies and black and red paint effects had to be rediscovered and restored after being hidden behind 1970s paintwork.
The library occupies the west or masculine wing of Attingham Hall and is typical of a gentleman's library from the 18th and early 19th century.
An impressive collection of copper pans, jelly molds and other equipment, the batterie de cuisine, is a feature of the kitchens at Attingham.
The Picture Gallery
The 2nd Lord Berwick and his courtesan wife were big spenders. So much so that two bankruptcy auctions had to be held to clear their debt. His younger brother a diplomat in Italy, rushed home to save many of the important works of art. Part of the Berwick's extravagance must have been this flamboyant room, designed by the Regency darling John Nash, with its glass roof (always leaky apparently) and enormous red carpet.In 2012, visitors can watch some of this rooms restoration taking place.
Fallow Deer in Attingham Park
Attingham Park's deer park has about 200 fallow deer that wander freely over the grounds. It is said that when he was dying the last Lord Berwick asked that his bed be moved so that he could watch his deer. Take a one or two mile walk through the deer park for good views of the house.
The Repton Oak
The Repton Oak was already a very ancient tree when noted landscape architect Humphrey Repton laid out the gardens and deer park at Attingham. The tree is thought to be 650 years old and was probably planted in the reign of King Edward III.