Shugborough Hall – Pig Wash Day
“You may even be able to get a smile from the most cynical of teens.”
Shugborough Estate Annual Pig Wash Day…
It’s the UK, it’s a bank holiday. What better way to spend it than in the wet watching pigs get washed?
Well, doing it in the sun is better for starters. Other than that, it’s about as much fun as it sounds.
The Shugborough estate working farm is always a great place to visit as a family. There’s always lots going on, lovely cute baby animals in the spring, sweet shops, ice cream and a play park for the kids. Add into that an hourly (or so) mud bath, shampoo and hose down of some of the huge porcine beasties that live at the farm and it’s a winner.
It’s essentially everything quaint and British that we love, sadly also including the queues. On a lovely day with an event on, you’ll find big queues as the doors open and a constant heavy(ish) stream of people for everything all day. To be fair, there’s a lot to do, so the crowds get dispersed as the day goes on – so it’s never claustrophobic – but that initial queue is a bit of a killer.
Thankfully staff are good, friendly and very helpful. They walk the queue making sure that people aren’t waiting around needlessly. Staff across the entire site are great, which they need to be as your ticket is checked as you pass through almost every portal from attraction to attraction.
The day is all about pig washing though, an “annual event” to celebrate May day weekend. We did indeed get to see pigs get washed – there was no subterfuge here. We also got to hunt for cuddly piggies as part of a children’s activity and then (after the park, animal babies, sweets and ice-cream) headed down on the train to the main house.
Here it’s a little more laboriously adult. The servent’s quarters are essentially a Victorian museum of the underlings who served the high and mighty. You can go into the main house to see just how the knobs lived too. If this is your kind of thing, then it’s excellent. Sadly it isn’t mine – I dislike the era and the opulence of this kind of thing. I understand the importance of keeping the heritage in place, and I like that Shugborough do concentrate more on the working class life than the upper classes they served, but there’s just something about the waste and decadence that I simply don’t get on with.
With my own predjudice aside, there are very few stately homes who do quite such a well rounded job of portraying the era though, with such a decent set of museum items. Anachronisms are abound, but generally it’s an interesting visit.
A short walk from the main house, though the gorgeous grounds, is the River Trent and canal. It’s a lovely walk and the canal has a working lock which fascinates the kids; and the narrow boat pilots are always happy to let them help open the gates. The entire area of the estate and surroundings really are gorgeous in the sunshine. It’s all trees, rivers, lawns, statues, curious follies and old Englishness.
Heading home after a full day, we stop off in the walled garden area and the “Working Bothies” (essentially arts and crafts). It’s an expensive day, but it IS a full day. A season pass works out not much more than a day visit, so if you’re local it’s well worth getting one. Head back just one more time and it’s paid for itself – and if you have young kids, it’s likely you’ll be back there time and again on nice weekends and holidays.
We’ve already headed back for the sheep racing over the second bank holiday (the day was not so nice, but we still enjoyed it).
It’s one for older people and young families, but you may even be able to get a smile from the most cynical of teens.
We have a video of the day too for your pleasure 🙂