The Shugborough estate was purchased in 1624 by the Anson family, later Earls of Litchfield. The original house was built in 1693 for William Anson, a prosperous Staffordshire lawyer.
In 1720 Shugborough was inherited by Thomas Anson.
He greatly enlarged Shugborough by adding bow-fronted pavilions on either side, joined to the main block by single-storey buildings. The delicate plaster ceilings in the Library and Dining Room by Vassali date from this period.
Thomas was the elder brother of George, Admiral Lord Anson. A four-year vogage around the world had made the Admiral rich and famous. He helped fiance his brother's projects at Shugborough and when he died Thomas inherited the Admiral's fortune.
Thomas Anson was also responsible for three remarkable neo-Grecian monuments that stand in the park. They were built by James 'Athenian' Stuart who established a style of architecture that would remain fashionable for the next 100 years.
The most imposing piece, the Triumphal Arch begun in 1761, is a memorial to Admiral Anson and his wife. The Chinese House by the River Sow also commemorates the Admiral. In 1790 Thomas William Anson, later Viscount Anson, commissioned Samuel Wyatt to carry out extensive remodelling.
Wyatt added the Ionic portico which extends across the full width of the central block. He also built the central bow on the garden facade and the verandahs fronting the links to the pavilions on either side.
His interior design can be seen in the saloon with its yellow scagliola columns. The coved ceiling of Wyatt's Red Drawing Room is decorated with delicate plasterwork by Joseph Rose the Younger.
In 1842 most of of the contents of the house were dispersed in a sale brought about by the extravagance of the 2nd Viscount, later 1st Earl of Litchfield.
The magnificent French furniture in the principal rooms was acquired by the 2nd Earl who set about rescuing Shugborough in the 1850s. The 2nd Earl's collection includes many splendid 18th century pieces.
Shugborough also has a display of Chinese artifacts and other mementoes acquired by Admiral Anson during his travels.
The original servants' quarters, working laundry, kitchens and brewhouse have been carefully restored and costumed guides demonstrate how the servants lived and worked.
In 1966 the house, contents and park were accepted by the Treasury in part payment of death duties following the death of the 4th Earl of Litchfield and transferred to the National Trust.
The 5th Earl of Lichfield lived in part of the house with his family.
Shugborough has 900 acres of grounds.
The formal terraces decorated with classical urns and cones of yellow yew descend from the house to the River Sow.
Other features of the gardens include a Victorian-style rose garden is set around a central sundial and the Ladies' Walk which meanders through the wild garden to the south.
Also on the estate is Wyatt's Farm Park which has rare breeds of livestock, a working restored corn mill and an agricultural museum. isitors can see bread being baked and butter and cheese being made in the dairy.