Drayton Manor is a theme park, set in the grounds of one of Britain’s great historical manor houses, located in the picturesque village of Drayton Bassett in Staffordshire. The theme park is one of the most successful in the UK ranking fifth by popularity, as measured by footfall, and brings a significant amount of tourism to the village with a population of just 1,037 at the last census.
The History of the Manor
Beginning in the 15th century when the British aristocracy began prioritising comfort over fortification for their luxury homes, a trend began to emerge among the super-rich of the time; they would demolish their existing home and rebuild another in a more desirable location. For some, this became a life time hobby, for others it was a way of displaying wealth and status to one’s peers.
Some of the buildings lost to this practice were of particular architectural merit, Drayton Manor being one example, and their loss has been regarded as a cultural tragedy by many. The manor at Drayton was demolished in the late 1920’s save for the old clock tower, which remains on the site to this day. In its heyday, the manor was the residence of a series of notable individuals including the Earls of Stafford, Leicester and Essex.
The house was sold in the 18th century to the Peel family with textile manufacturer turned MP for Tamworth Robert Peel taking residence there until his death in 1830. His son, also named Robert Peel, followed in his father’s footsteps and rose from MP to Prime Minister. It was under the younger Robert Peel’s direction that the existing manor house and adjacent banqueting house were demolished and replaced by a modern mansion designed by renowned architect Robert Smirke. Robert Peel is buried in the vault of the Drayton Bassett village church.
Things to Do In the Park
Drayton Manor contains an assortment of rides and attractions with plenty to keep children and adults of all ages entertained. Of the park’s five roller coasters, two are designed for younger children and families, one for older children, and the final two for adults. One of the adult coasters; ‘G Force’ is the only roller coaster in the UK that uses the so-called X-Car design.
Since 2009, the park has also operated a 4D cinema which combines 3D viewing technology with a number of interactive elements to create an augmented reality style experience. 15 acres of the park has been given over to a zoo whose residents include East African cranes, a variety of owls, and big cats such as Lynx and Tigers.
Things to Do In the Village
Drayton Bassett is a beautiful village and has a great deal of history beyond the Peel family. This history can be seen throughout the village in both the architecture and the remains of historical features along its canal. The village also contains The Longwood Deer Park for wildlife spotters and is only a short distance from Tamworth Castle, a Norman motte-and-bailey castle.