By Adam Lowe
Weston Park is situated in the fabulously named Weston-under-Lizard, in Staffordshire. The estate comprises some 1000 acres of parkland, landscaped by Capability Brown. The house itself is a 17th-century Grade I-listed building, while the stable block and orangery are Grade II-listed. It is probably most popularly known as one of the locations of the dual-site V Festival, originally envisioned by Pulp and sponsored since its inception by Virgin, but Weston Park has a rich and interesting heritage that stretches back to the Domesday Book.
In 1986 Weston Park was gifted to the nation, with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It has been kept alive and rejuvenated over the years, so that while it retains much of its original character, the décor is regularly updated as if it was still a family home. This means the house feels relevant and well-kept all year round.
The house, previously the home of the Earls of Bradford, features grand tributes to the Third Earl’s horses, a Victorian library, lavish Gobelin tapestries, and a dining room with stunning artwork from the likes of Sir Anthony van Dyck.
The Park has its own miniature railway, which has been running for 30 years. The short but scenic journey starts at Weston Central Station and takes in Temple Wood, the bridges, the lakes and the gardens. Visitors can take a ride on Merlin or Peggy, depending on their own particular preferences!
The Stables has been renovated with a coffee bar, which is open from 11am till 5pm. The nearby picnic area surrounds the gorgeous Church Pool, where you can either bring your own hamper or visit the shop to pick up freshly-made treats.
The Granary, originally built in 1767, was restored in 2009, after an extended period of disuse. The Heritage Lottery Fund and Advantage West Midlands supported the restoration. The Granary is open all year round and is free to enter. It houses The Granary Art Gallery and sells local and organic foods from The Granary Deli & Café.
The Granary Grill restaurant opened to the public in 2010. Food at Weston is masterminded by Guy Day, who brings his own unique spin to classic English and French dishes. While the house itself serves fine dining for events, or upmarket tea and cakes throughout the day, The Granary Grill offers home-cooked food with a Mediterranean flavour, with steak, fish and plenty of seasonal produce. Check out the ‘Freedom Beer’-battered cod and chips or the 6oz Weston burger if you enjoy red meat. Vegetarians can enjoy roasted vegetable paella, the Mediterranean sharing platter or the grilled crottin goat’s cheese with roasted red pepper and olive salad.
Weston Park has been the site of various high profile events in recent years. The G8 Summit Retreat was held there in 1998, with both Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton in attendance. It also hosts the annual Midland Game Fair, which draws huge crowds of up to 50,000 people a year from across the UK and Ireland, and features country pursuits such as animal husbandry, fishing and working dog trials.
Guests are able to book stays in the house, choosing from a range of luxurious suites which will make any man feel like a queen. Each room features its own teddy bear mascot and full period features from fixtures to fittings.
Adult tickets to Weston Park start at £5.50 for the park and gardens, or £8.50 for the house, park and gardens. Annual passes cost just £20. Entry to The Granary is free all year round. Details of opening times can be found at weston-park.com/openingdates. The house is also available for stays, corporate events and weddings. Visit westonparkhospitality.com/ for more information.
More information is available at weston-park.com.