SINAI PARK HOUSE TIMELINE
The Sinai site was always of strategic importance, with commanding views over the north/south crossing point over the Trent. For Romans, it was an ideal outpost – a day’s march via Rykneld Street to Derby or Lichfield. In Medieval times, it was the fortified manor of the de Schobenhale family with its 13th-century hilltop moat (now an ancient monument).
The de Schobenhales gave Sinai Park to the monks of Burton Abbey and in 1334, Abbot William Bromley “gave five days indulgence from the blood-letting… in that place surrounded by a dyke in the park of Shopenhale with an increased allowance of bread and beer.” The monks were responsible for bringing two timber houses to the site – now the two wings of the present building – to use for rest and recuperation after bloodletting. The monks also built up the deer park for hunting.
WILLIAM PAGET, 1ST BARON OF BEAUDESERT
At the Dissolution, Sinai was acquired by William Paget, the first Baron of Beaudesert and one of Henry VIII’s chief ministers. The Paget family continued to own Sinai for almost 400 years. Sinai was never the Pagets main house, these being the manor in Burton, their country house at Beaudesert and eventually their grand new home in Anglesey, Plas Newydd, designed in the 18th century by James Wyatt. Sinai was used as a hunting lodge.
To make Sinai grander as befitted the family’s grand visitors (Elizabeth’s Earl of Essex is recorded as shooting deer in the park), the Pagets had the central section built in 1605. Their hunting lodge was the site of a Civil War skirmish and then in the 1700s, there were more Medieval-style extensions, Tudor-style chimneys, a plunge pool and the 1732 bridge over the moat.
HENRY PAGET, 1ST MARQUIS OF ANGLESEY
The Pagets’ most famous son was Henry Paget, later Earl of Uxbridge and Marquis of Anglesey, the English hero who was second in command to Wellington at Waterloo lost his leg to a cannonball on the battlefield. “By God sir,” said Wellington, “you have lost your leg!” “By God, sir, so I have!” replied Paget.
HENRY PAGET, 5TH MARQUIS OF ANGLESEY
The last of the line to own Sinai was the ‘The Eccentric Earl’, who died in 1905. Sinai was sold and began a new life as a Co-op farm, six cottages and a billet for RAF personnel, before being condemned and turned into a shelter for pigs, sheep and hens.