The Mile Walk at Attingham Park, Shropshire is an unusual example of a linear Georgian pleasure ground, which survives in form and context but no longer in planting. Today the woodland walk forms the heart of the National Trust visitor attraction and is one of the defining features of the grade II* registered park and garden and part of the Attingham SSSI.
We were approached in Spring 2014 with an exciting commission to collate research and assess the walk to identify its true historic significance and to make proposals to enhance that significance and provide evidence to help the better interpretation and enjoyment of the walk in advance of rising visitor numbers.
Our work has established the role of the lesser known landscape designer, Thomas Leggett, in laying out this quite private feature in c.1770; his design respected by his successor, Humphry Repton in his redesign of the park from 1798. Tantalising planting lists survive from Leggett’s commission, which record the use of ornamental flowering shrubs at Attingham and reflect the form and fashion of the eighteenth century floriferous shrubbery; this character perpetuated in the Mile Walk from the late 1960s by Graham Stuart Thomas, the National Trust’s first Garden Adviser.
The challenge is to regain a sense of Georgian ornament within the present woodland, re-balancing the form and area of the canopy through targeted thinning and long-term management, protecting veteran trees, augmenting screening and re opening views to connect the walk to the surrounding landscape. Where possible, discrete areas of shrubbery will be introduced to provide colour, form and fragrance.