National Trust attractions in Shropshire and Mid Wales boosted by TV dramas like Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey, Poldark and Wolf Hall have helped National Trust attractions in Shropshire and Mid Wales enjoy record visitor numbers.

National Trust attractions in Shropshire and Mid Wales boosted by TV dramas like Downton Abbey

The popular TV dramas have reignited our love for history.

And the National Trust says it is reaping the benefit as its homes and gardens see extra visitors.

The conservation charity has revealed it is getting more visits than at any time in its 120-year history across the board as the number of families coming to see the nation's historical buildings and landscapes have boomed.

Attingham Park

1: Attingham Park: 394,334 visitors in 2014/2015 up from 371,905 in 2013/14. An 18th-century mansion and estate with beautiful parkland, built for the first Lord Berwick in 1785. Attingham Park has woodlands, a deer park, a walled garden and playing field – and is currently hosting a Christmas tree festival. The hall itself has "masculine" and "feminine" themed rooms, and a picture gallery roof that is currently being restored, with visitors able to see the work in progress.

2: Chirk Castle: 126,223 visitors in 2014/2015 up from 127,009 in 2013/14.Built in 1310 during the reign of Edward I to subdue the last princes of Wales, Chirk Castle is now famous as a backdrop for the Wales GB Rally. The building itself has lavish interiors and award-winning gardens. The state rooms include a 17th-century long gallery, 18th-century saloon with rich tapestries, a servants' hall, and East Range, containing a library and 1920s-style Bow Room.

3: Dudmaston Estate: 83,123 visitors in 2014/2015 up from 70,267 in 2013/14. A 17th century country house near Bridgnorth, it is still a home to the Hamilton-Russell family and the estate itself dates back to 1403. It includes wooded parkland, sweeping gardens and a house with a surprise - among the family rooms are formal modern and traditional art galleries.

4: Wilderhope Manor: An Elizabethan manor house restored by John Cadbury in 1936, Wilderhope also gets fewer visitors due to its remote location on Wenlock Edge - but it does have a second life as working youth hostel, well known and used by walkers. Even though the interiors are unfurnished, the architecture and charm of the manor are still a sight to behold.

5: Benthall Hall: Benthall Hall gets less than 50,000 visitors a year, but is another fascinating National Trust-run historic family home in Shropshire, on a plateau above the gorge of the River Severn, near Broseley. The stone house dates back to 1535 has been part of many interesting events from the Civil War to the Industrial Revolution. It has a stunning interior, carved oak staircase, panelling and decorated plaster ceilings.

Powis Castle

And one Shropshire mansion and park is among the five most visited in the UK.

Fourth from the top, with nearly 400,000 visitors this year, is Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, which is having to expand its cafe to cope.

Other sites in the region such as Dudmaston Estate, Chirk Castle and Powis Castle have also seen numbers increase.

The conservation charity welcomed 21.3 million visitors to its houses and gardens over 12 months – more than half a million more than any previous year.

There is evidence the renewed interest in historical tourist attractions is in part thanks to the boom in blockbuster TV series, from historical dramas to fantasy series. Downton Abbey beat Eastenders in the Christmas Day ratings with almost seven million viewers, with millions more expected to watch the final episode on catch-up.

A survey carried out by the Trust has revealed 48 per cent of Britons agree locations used in programmes make them want to visit places like them.

In some cases National Trust properties have been used for shows, such as Levant Mine in Cornwall which doubled as Tresidders rolling mill in Poldark and Barrington Court in Somerset which played the part of York Palace in Wolf Hall.

Giant's Causeway, the Northern Ireland landmark nearby many scenes from Game of Thrones, is now the Trust's best loved spot of all, with more than a half a million visitors last year.

But the interest in such locations has also had a knock on effect to similar sites, as Attingham Park in Atcham, near Shrewsbury, is among the top sites for visitor numbers.

Dame Helen Ghosh, director general for the National Trust, said it was also down to the hard work of the trust.

She said: "We're delighted that more people than ever are visiting our places to enjoy the beautiful countryside, coastline and historic buildings that we care for.

"As well as external factors which have helped increase visitor numbers, we've been working hard to improve the experiences people have at our places by making them more rewarding.

"Many of our properties are now open 364 days a year giving people more opportunities to visit and of course members can now pay monthly thus spreading the cost.

"As part of our strategy we have committed to spend an additional £300 million over the next 10 years on the backlog of conservation work needed at our places.

"So it's very good news that members and visitors are supporting us in this way allowing us to deliver on our core purpose of looking after these wonderful places for ever for everyone."

At Attingham plans are underway to extend catering facilities and transform its Carriage House Café into the Stables Restaurant with its own dedicated kitchens.

A 10-year-project to restore the gardens is also underway, play areas have been extended and there are hopes to install a biomass boiler system.

The work is to help cope with the rise in visitor numbers, which have more than doubled to the park in the last 10 years

The trust owns more than 500 historic homes and gardens across more than 600,000 acres of land.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News