A newly built Visitor Reception and expanded Carriage House Café are now open at Attingham Park near Shrewsbury.
The large scale building project The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design at Attingham Park, one of Shropshire’s top visitor attractions and the third most visited pay-to-enter property in the National Trust, has transformed the property’s visitor facilities in the Stables Courtyard.
Visitor numbers to Attingham Park have increased dramatically over the past ten years, to over 466,000 last year. Prior to the building project elements of the project beginning, improvements had already been carried out over the previous 4 years including extending and surfacing car parking areas, building new toilet facilities, and reinstating the grand south entrance to the Stables Courtyard.
After many years of planning and raising funds, the £3,000,000 The Stables: Reworking a Grand Design building project broke ground in spring 2016 and has involved building a new Visitor Reception, production kitchen, servery and a series of additional seating areas for the Carriage House Café, and building and installing a new biomass boiler district heating system to serve the Courtyard and Mansion.
Mark Agnew, General Manager said, “This has been the biggest project we’ve under taken to date, and is vital to the future of Attingham. As a conservation charity, we rely on income and support from our visitors to care for and conserve Attingham, and our previous facilities were no longer fit for purpose. The new Visitor Reception and Carriage House Café mean we’ll be able to offer visitors a warm welcome and a larger and improved café to relax and refuel during their visit!”
Attingham’s Stable Courtyard is Grade 2* listed, designed by George Steuart at the same time as the Mansion, and is a rare historic survival. Conservation and use of the Courtyard has been carefully balanced with guidance from curators, archaeologists and local Conservation Officers. During building work an historic stable floor dating back to around 1900 was uncovered, and this has been carefully recorded, taken up, and re-laid to form part of the floor in the new Carriage House Café.
The new Carriage House Café includes a new production kitchen, meaning that for the first time hot lunches can be served at this busy National Trust property, as well as a wider choice of hot and cold food, savoury snacks and sweet treats. The seating area has been extended to seat 150 people indoors, with an outside area seating a further 220. Different counters inside the new café will provide a quick ‘grab and go’ service for visitors wanting to take their refreshments with them on their visit, as well as a main counter serving the full menu.
As part of the building work the popular Dog Walkers’ Rest, an undercover and outdoor seating area adjacent to the Café will be extended. This seating area is where dogs and owners are able to sit undercover and enjoy refreshment from the Carriage House Café (assistance dogs are welcome in the Café). Dog walkers visiting by themselves will be able to tie their dogs up at a ‘10 minute tie-up’ point in the Stables while going into the café to order their refreshments. For additional shelter, large ‘jumbrellas’ have also been installed in front of the Dog Walkers’ rest for added undercover seating.
National Trust members and under 5s visit Attingham for free; admission charges apply for non-members. For more information on Attingham Park, including opening times and admission prices for non-members, please visit the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/attinghampark or call 01743 708162.