The Shirley family, the first owners of Staunton Harold, have had a chequered history, with several reversals of fortune. Sir Robert Shirley was an ardent royalist, and built the church here in defiance of Cromwell. He was imprisoned six times, and died in the Tower of London, aged 27. From exile in France the future Charles the Second wrote to his widow, promising redress in better times and, true to his word, restored the family’s fortunes, They became Earls Ferrers under Queen Anne. The Ferrers must have been keen hunting people and this is the two sculptures of hound and stag on the top of the pillars of the Golden Gates looked at from both sides.