Shugborough Estate’s New Woodland Play Area for Adventurous Explorers Of All Ages

29 November 2017

The 17 Century spirit of adventurous exploration, which afforded the original legacy behind the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire, has inspired a swashbuckling design for the Estate’s natural play area Explorers Wood, which has opened to attract a new generation of young explorers.

Shugborough Estate, which is now under the care of the National Trust, was originally the ancestral home to the Anson Family, and was built on the proceeds of explorer George Anson’s successful sea faring voyages.  The National Trust selected specialist design and build company TouchWood Play to design a bespoke and highly innovative woodland play area, which captures the unique spirit of Shugborough and provides a safe but challenging space for children of all ages to explore. 

To ensure the design for the play area would integrate seamlessly into the overall personality of Shugborough, Touchwood began the project with its unique “Designing for Real” process. Members of the National Trust team and children from the local Anson Primary School in Great Haywood, were invited for a day of exploration and adventure in a workshop in the woods.

TouchWood then utilised the children’s wonderfully creative ideas to form the inspiration behind the fantastical sea themed play area which includes a giant carved sea creature’s tentacle, hollowed out logs to clamber through, and a huge prow of a ship, which TouchWood’s team expertly carved from a fallen, ancient Oak from the grounds of the Estate. 

Other features include tree hammocks, a den building area and a 30-metre-long rigging styled, zip wire through the trees and several huge ship cannons, created from recycled culvert pipes and wooden poles. 

Speaking about the project, Shugborough’s General Manager Hayley Mival said, “We are really excited to have opened Explorers Wood and are delighted to see visitors enjoying the combination of natural imaginative play and some of the more challenging aspects.  The design is embedded very clearly in our Spirit of Place, inspired as it is by Admiral Anson’s voyage around the world in his ship the Centurion.  We hope Explorers Wood will encourage both natural and imaginative play and we will continue to develop these areas over the coming months”

TouchWood’s Founder Joe Cooper said, “We are delighted to have worked with the National Trust to help bring the unique history of Shugborough alive by creating such a strong narrative link between the house and the woodland.  Our skilled team has created a highly exciting and challenging natural play environment, which sits perfectly within the natural landscape and encourages children of all ages to explore and expand their imaginations and play capabilities.”