River Wissey Lovell Fuller

A Day Out In Staffordshire

July 2006

Graham takes on a virtual tour of Sudbury Hall in Staffordshire with its delightful architecture, splendid gardens and, of course, a great cafeteria.

SUDBURY Hall is a magnificent grand house of the mid-seventeenth century. It owes its being to a remarkable young man, George Vernon, whose family lived in it for many generations up until 1967. Then, unfortunately, the Treasury took it over in part-payment of death duties, after which it passed to The National Trust.

The Hall is typical of its period with large high rooms, beautifully furnished and decorated. However, it is especially noted for some very fine wood-carving by the foremost exponent of the craft, Grinling Gibbons. Also, there are many painted murals and ceilings by Louis Laguerre - the ceilings are particularly magnificent. There is a Long Gallery reminiscent of the one in Montacute House in Somerset and the Grand Staircase is one of the most elaborate of its kind. However, our favourite room was the Talbot Room, a much smaller room originally used as a bedroom but later, in the 188's, converted to a library complete with cast iron staircase as in "My Fair Lady".

Outside, there are gardens to the rear with a boating lake. Compared to other properties, the grounds are unexceptional but on a fine day are very nice in which to relax.

Finally, housed in the 19th century service wing can be found the National trust Childhood Museum. There are displays and tableaux about children from the 18th century up until today. It will be quite an eye-opener for today's youngsters as I don't suppose they realise how lucky they are; the section showing the times when children were used as chimney sweeps is quite harrowing.

As with most NT properties, there is an excellent cafeteria where we sat outside in the sun and lunched. The hall is very easy to find being on the A50 five miles east of Uttoxeter. It is probably not practical for a day trip (journey approx 2 1/2 hours) but if you go on a Peak District holiday, do try and set aside a day to visit Sudbury Hall - you should find it very rewarding.

Graham Forster

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