Shropshire's grandest homes to open for public tours
People will get a chance to see how the other half lives when the the owners of some of Shropshire's grandest and most historic properties open their homes to the public.
Millichope Park, near Craven Arms, Willey Hall, near Broseley, and Aldenham Park near Bridgnorth, are among the magnificent residences which will open their doors to visitors.
The owners of the properties, some of whose families have lived there for generations, will act as tour guides, explaining the rich histories behind the grand houses.
The Invitation To View scheme will see six properties across the county open their doors for private tours over the next month. Plas Dinham in Powys is also taking part.
As well as Willey, Aldenham and Millichope, Hardwick Hall, near Ellesmere, Pitchford Hall near Shrewsbury and Combermere Abbey, near Whitchurch will also be taking part.
Willey Hall has been the seat of the Forester family since it was built within hundreds of acres of its own parkland in 1815.
Lord Forester, who lives at the house with his wife and two children, said: “Shropshire can boast a wealth of privately-owned properties which are fascinating both historically and architecturally, and often have glorious gardens.
“It gives us enormous pleasure to be able to show people around the house which, like all the others in the region, has many points of interest."
He said one of the most interesting thing was the references throughout the house to what was one of the most important eras in British history.
“The house was built the same year as the Battle of Waterloo, and of course we are situated almost next door to Ironbridge, birthplace of the Industrial Revolution," he said.
“Both the Napoleonic Wars and the Industrial Revolution, events which helped shape the future of the country, are heavily referenced in the collection of paintings, books and china."
He said those taking part in the tour would be served tea and cake in the conservatory, from where they could wander around the garden and see the azaleas in full bloom.
Neil Mainwaring, who lives at Hardwick Hall with his wife Ali, said previous tours had proved extremely popular.
Mr Mainwaring's family have been at the property since it was built in 1720.
“I think much of its popularity lies in the fact that the properties are inhabited by the owning families, and the tours are given by those who have enormous pride in and knowledge of their ancestral home,” he said.
The tours cost from £18 to £30, and include hot and cold refreshments.
Properties open during April
The following properties will be taking part in the Invitation To View scheme during April:
- Hardwick Hall, near Ellesmere, April 25, £20
- Aldenham Park, near Bridgnorth, April 25, £25
- Millichope Park and its bluebell forest, near Craven Arms, April 27, £20
- Combermere Abbey, April 30 £18
- Pitchford Hall and Tree House, near Shrewsbury, May 5 and 9, £19
- Plas Dinham, Powys, May 9, £14
- Willey Park, near Broseley, May 16, £30
To book, call 01206 573948 or visit invitationtoview.co.uk