Though actually in Leicestershire near the border with Derbyshire, situated at the end of a long driveway off the Melbourne to Asby Road, Staunton Harold, with it's Hall, church, park and lake has been a major attraction for Derbyshire people for many years. The house was itself an established Sue Ryder home for many years, but has recently closed. It housed frequent exhibits by local artists, a cafe and shop.
Behind the house is the Ferrers Craft Centre, which evolved from a pottery established here in 1974. There are also nurseries and a large garden centre stocking the usual garden sundries as well as some unusual trees and shrubs and an aquatic section.
Staunton was mentioned in Domesday as being held by Henry de Ferrers, remaining in Ferrers family until it's sale in 1954. The first house at Staunton was built by Sir William de Staunton in 1324. In 1423 Margaret, sister and heiress of Thomas de Staunton, married Sir Ralph Shirley, Constable of Melbourne Castle and the adopted Staunton as the family Home.
The house was largely rebuilt by Sir Robert Shirley, Ist Earl of Ferrers. He also built the church in 1653 which adjoins the house. Washington Shirley who became the 5th Earl Ferrers, rebuilt the Hall in the present Palladian style to which was added later the Georgian front as it is today, mellow brick with stone faced, pedimented, centre surmounted by figures of Minerva, Apollo and Ceres.
The inscription above the west door reads 'In the years 1563 when all things sacred were throughout ye Nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley Baronet, founded this church, whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in ye worst times and hoped them in the most callamitous. The righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance'.
The Garden Centre is open Mon to Sat 8.30am to 5.30pm and Sunday's between 10.30 and 4.30pm.
More info on the estate at www.stauntonharoldestate.co.uk