The inspiring history of a stately home on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border has been detailed in a richly illustrated and fascinating new book.
Weston Park: the House, the Families and the Influence has been written by Gareth Williams, Curator and Head of Learning at Weston Park.
The estate, at Weston-under-Lizard, was the ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford and dates back to the medieval period.
In 1986, in the face of crippling death duties, the house and the 1,000-acre park were gifted to the nation by the current Earl of Bradford. The estate is now owned and run by the Weston Park Foundation, an independent charitable trust, in perpetuity for the nation.
Gareth said: “Weston Park and its collections is relatively little-known beyond Staffordshire and Shropshire but its influence reaches much further than these two counties.
“The families who have lived at Weston have been involved in national affairs, in politics, the legal profession, and the military, with significant links to the development of the urban centres of Walsall, Bolton and Wigan as well as the rural areas around the House.
“Weston Park has been a prestigious home, visited by royalty and politicians and is home to a fascinating collection including a significant collection of paintings assembled in the late 17th and early 18th centuries which are now enjoyed by visitors to the House and form a backdrop to the events that regularly take place at Weston.
“It’s a fascinating story, which has not previously been brought together to explain how this very rural English stately home is, in fact, associated with the development of so many other places throughout Britain.”
The book takes a chronological view of Weston Park’s historical associations and those of the people linked to the estate, beginning in the medieval period and continuing to the present day. Chapters bring together the different families who have owned the property, with sections also dealing with the complex evolution of the House’s architecture, and the creation of the globally acclaimed art collections amassed by the Newport family.
Before joining Weston Park in 2006, Gareth was previously a regional director of Sotheby’s and curator for the National Trust at Nostell Priory.
Andrea Webster, Weston Park’s marketing manager, said: “Gareth has worked painstakingly to research and document the history of this unique property, and the finished book is stunning.
“It’s a fitting record of the house, its setting, extraordinary collections, the people involved and the influence that it has had on wider communities.”