These recent images of Shugborough illustrate the surprising diversity in a mid-eighteenth-century British landscape garden. The Chinese style coexisted with the Greek and finished buildings were juxtaposed with deliberately contrived ruins.
Cattle roamed among the monuments to balance culture and learning with some refreshing rusticity.
Thomas Anson developed the garden and park at Shugborough between the 1740s and the early 1770s.
He based many of the garden structures on designs by Thomas Wright and James ‘Athenian’ Stuart. The Chinese House, Chinese boathouse and the Pagoda (the last two no longer extant) may have been influenced by his brother Admiral Lord Anson’s visits to China in 1742 and 1743.
Shugborough represents the ‘rococo’ moment in the English landscape garden, when cows roamed among Classical allusions and a Pagoda could tower over a Druidic ruin.
The historian Dr Stephen McDowall is currently doing research into the development and meaning of the Chinese elements in the house and the garden at Shugborough, which will eventually be published as part of the East India Company at Home project.