Wednesday 26 September 2018


We moored up last night about half a mile short of Haywood Lock, overlooking the Shugborough estate. We've often dropped in there for coffee, or to stroll around the house or grounds. Today, whatever your sociopolitical predispositions may be towards big country houses, it looked splendid in the morning sun.

By the time we got there it was half-way between coffee time and lunchtime, so we had not just coffee and cake, but one of their home-made tomato and basil sausage rolls as well. It was scrumptious!

As visitors to Shugborough Park will know, there are various follies and towers dotted around the grounds, mostly inspired by Thomas Trail's visits to Mediterranean parts in the early 18th century, and financed by his brother George's plundering of Spanish ships laden with gold from the New World. In our previous wanderings there were one or two of these architectural wonders that we'd never located, in particular, the Lanthorn of Demosthenes. Since it was an excellent day for a walk, we determined to find it.

Demosthenes was a statesman and orator of ancient Athens and, among other things, ran a Theatre. The edifice on which this was modelled is the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, which you can read all about yourself. The version at Shugborough appears to be missing most of the tripod which should sit on top, to support a flame-carrying bowl. Since such a tripod and bowl appears to have been the original monument's raison d'ĂȘtre, this is a bit of a pity, but perhaps the National Trust are doing something about it. They've certainly been hard at work in the interior of the main house since we were last here, creating an exhibition space celebrating the lives and work of the Trail brothers.

Walking to the Lanthorn, we passed Hadrian's Arch on its hilltop, so visited that on our way back.

Probably when they built this, you could see the house down in the valley. The trees that have grown in the intervening years obscure the house and the arch from each other, but both the arch and the view are impressive.

It was hot walking today, and we were glad to get back to Erin Mae and have a cuppa. But the sunshine meant we got a load of washing dry and that I shan't need to run the engine to charge the batteries. It's quiet on this stretch this afternoon.


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