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Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Thursday, 20 January 2011
Shugborough Hall saves Anson treasures after pipe burst
The Capture Of The Nuestra Senora Da Covadonga By The Centurion by John Clevely
Some of the treasures date back 300 years to the 18th Century

Dozens of historic treasures at Staffordshire's Shugborough Hall had to be saved from disaster during a bad weather spell in December.

A frozen pipe burst in one of the hall's state rooms threatened antique paintings, furniture, books and clocks.

Spokesperson Corinne Caddy said: "Luckily, we were alerted quickly, and an emergency operation plan was immediately put into action."

After examination, experts say there is no lasting damage to the items.

Shugborough Hall, which is run by Staffordshire County Council, is the ancestral home near Stafford of the Anson family, the Earls of Lichfield.

Late December 2010 and early January 2011 saw some of Britain's coldest weather for years.

Anson Room

The Shugborough Hall spokesperson Corinne Caddy explained that the Anson Room contains memorabilia, whose value goes into tens of thousands of pounds, from the life of Admiral George Anson, who lived at the stately home nearly 300 years ago. It was the favourite sitting room of the late Lord Lichfield.

Ms Caddy said: "The day before Christmas Eve a pipe burst in the Anson Room spilling gallons of water within seconds - the area resembled a steam room.

"Water and humidity are one of the worst nightmares for a stately home so this was very serious. However there is a team amongst our regular staff who train in emergency salvage just in case this sort of thing happens - they had to remove priceless paintings screwed to the wall, Chippendale furniture, antique books and rare clocks. They managed it within 20 minutes."

It's believed it is the first time the team have been called on in nearly 10 years.

She continued: "The entire heating system for the house was then drained down while we caught the gallons of water in a 'production line' of black refuse bins.

"The treasures were only saved because of the staff's quick actions."

Specialist curators have since inspected the items and revealed that there is no lasting damage.

Anson painting

One of the most valuable pieces in the Anson Room is an oil painting, The Capture Of The Nuestra Senora Da Covadonga By The Centurion by John Clevely.

The picture shows a naval action in 1743 from the life of Admiral George Anson, who was not only the owner of Shugborough, but a major figure in the mid-18th Century Royal Navy.

During a two-year tour, which took him and his flagship The Centurion around the world, Anson was hunting down Spanish ships.

In capturing the Spanish treasure galleon, Anson made himself a fortune. He later served as First Lord of the Admiralty.

Shugborough Hall reopens to the public in March after its winter break. This season will be the first one in which the late Lord Lichfield's private apartments will be open to visitors.

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