The wonder of Weston Park.
Byline: Justine Halifax email@example.com
WESTON Park is an impressive Grade I listed feather in the Midlands' cap that over the centuries has played host to a plethora of royal visitors and heads of state.
Former guests to the grand house have included King George V's daughter Mary, the Princess Royal, who honeymooned at the spot, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who was a regular visitor, as well as US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin as recently as 1998 as part of the G8 Summit.
Set in 1,000 acres of Capability Brown landscape, and listed in the Domesday book, the house at Weston Park at Westonunder-Lizard, on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border, was originally built in 1671 for Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham and was very much her vision.
It was Sir Henry Bridgeman, the 5th baronet, who commissioned Capability Brown to landscape the park and employed architect James Paine to make alterations to the house as well as additions to the park in the 1760s, which included two further Grade I listed structures, a single arch stone Roman bridge over Temple Pool in Temple Wood, and the impressive Temple of Diana, which is now a holiday let.
As well as these three rare Grade I accolades, Weston also boasts two Grade II listed features - the stable block and orangery, and its antiques and art collection which is internationally renowned.
Amongst its treasures Weston houses one of the country's most impressive collections of paintings, including work by Sir Anthony Van Dyck; the unique French, Gobelin tapestries, specially commissioned for the house in the 1760s; a stem cup made from Charles II's Great Seal of England; Thomas Chippendale chairs; work by Morel & Hughes royal furniture makers to the Prince of Wales, and later King George IV; and as well as Chinese and Japanese porcelain, its ceramic collection also boasts Derby, Worcester, Wedgwood and Coalport pieces.
It was after being the former seat of the Earls of Bradford since the 17th century, that in 1986 the current Earl gifted the house and its beautiful grounds to the nation. It is now owned and maintained by the Weston Park Foundation.
An independent charitable trust, it stages several major events throughout the year - including V Festival, Midland Game Fair, Camper Jam, food and craft festivals, its dine and stay in the house events and has an on-site restaurant and cafe, the Granary Grill & Deli - from which all proceeds go towards the cost of maintaining and conserving this historic estate.
V Festival thrills tens of |thousands each year
| A portrait of Sir Henry Bridgeman |who oversaw a major overhaul of the gardens and house in the 1760s
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, Ryutaro Hashimoto, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair in the Italianate |garden at Weston Park in 1998 during the G8 Summit
Weston Park is |popular attraction
A watercolour of |Weston Park's house by Lady Charlotte Bridgeman, daughter of the 2nd Earl, painted around 1840