Fit for a Queen
By Andrea Webster, Marketing Manager
Throughout 2019, we will be inviting visitors to explore life on the estate 200 years ago, as we mark the birthday of one of history’s most iconic monarchs, Queen Victoria. We will begin by opening for our summer season on 24 May 2019, Victoria’s 200th birthday.
Our curatorial team, head gardener and the brigade of chefs at Weston Park’s historic country estate, which sits on the border of Shropshire and Staffordshire, have planned a programme that will give visitors the chance to explore the legacy and influence of the Victorian age.
The 3rd Earl of Bradford (1819-1898), who was born in the same year as Victoria, was to have indelible ties to the Queen and played a central role within the Royal Court. He was himself a pioneer of the age, transforming and shaping the house and grounds in a way that would last for generations to come and which is now seen and enjoyed by visitors from around the world. During the Victorian period this was a house that would become accessible by train and thus became a scene of house parties, society guests and high fashion.
The summer opening of the house and gardens gives visitors the chance to discover the fascinating stories that await at every corner. They are taken back to a time when the Earl added the Victorian (East) Wing, Orangery and Loggia, created a Smoking Room and Billiard Room and transformed the Entrance Hall, Library, Drawing Room and Tapestry Room to the height of Victorian fashion, largely creating the Weston that we know today. A visit in 2019 will give visitors the opportunity to explore these rooms, some of the most stunning of the house, and to learn more about the role they played in the Victorian era.
The Earl was twice Master of the Horse to Queen Victoria, a reminder of which awaits in the Entrance Hall where a series of equine paintings hang, including The Carriage of the Master of the Horse Putting To by Charles Lutyens. In the Drawing Room there is the parrot that was given to the Earl by Prime Minister Disraeli, Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister of her reign. The curious tale of the parrot, which was thought to be male and then laid 24 eggs in 23 days, will intrigue visitors.
To help further tell our Victorian story a series of artefacts will be going on display from the collection in the Granary Art Gallery for the Victorious exhibition, some of which have not been on public display before, including a rare carpet given to Selina, Countess of Bradford, from Prime Minister Disraeli.
Stepping outside the house, the formal gardens at Weston are recognised as a prime example of Victorian horticultural trends, with the South Terrace and its adjacent Italian Garden. For many years it was thought that these design masterpieces were the work of Edward Kemp, however recent research in the Staffordshire Archives has revealed they are the work of William Brodrick Thomas, who also laid out the gardens at Sandringham for the Prince of Wales in the 1880s. In June the Trustees of the Weston Park Foundation will reveal the work that has been carried out over the last six months to restore the Rose Gardens to the original Victorian plans.
‘Victorian Weston’ will invite visitors to step into a world of grand country parties, stunning formal gardens and the excitement of the arrival of the railways, all seen through the lens of this one incredible house, its residents and its influential visitors.
We have put together a wide range of events so you can explore Victorian Weston this summer.
Afternoon Tea Behind the Scenes
9th and 30 June, 21 and 28 July, 4 and 18 August and 1 September
The colourful stories of Victorian Weston are matched by its stunning collection, which will all be brought to life as part of this special house tour. Visitors will be taken behind the scenes to find out about the 3rd Earl’s lavish house parties, see rooms that are not normally open to the public and find out more about Weston’s influential Victorian owners.
Following the tour guests will enjoy afternoon tea in the Victoria Orangery, just as the Earl and his guests would have done in years gone by.
Classic Afternoon Tea, £29 per person
Prosecco Afternoon Tea, £35 per person
Price includes admission to the House, Park and Gardens, the Tour and Afternoon Tea.
Victorious Exhibition – Victoria 200
Throughout August and September
This special exhibition, curated by Weston’s very own Curator Gareth Williams, will tell the story of how this period of immense change shaped not only Weston Park as it now stands but also defined our modern age and way of life. Items from the collection, some never been seen before, will lead visitors through the life and times of the Victorian area starting with the teenage Queen herself.
Victorious takes place in the Granary Art Gallery. Entry to the exhibition is free.
Victorian Gardens Tour & Afternoon Tea
The Formal Gardens at Weston are recognised as a prime example of Victorian horticultural trends, with the south terrace and its adjacent Italian Gardens, in themselves design masterpieces, created by the celebrated landscape architect Edward Kemp.
11th August and 8th September.
Classic £29.00 per person
Prosecco £35.00 per person
Price includes admission to the House, Park, Gardens, Tour and Afternoon Tea