WINTER WALKS & DECAYING HOUSES: 1 CROOME PARK

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The Lakeside Urn ©National Trust/Wendy Carter

Winter walks seem to be one of the main topics in the garden-related press at the moment – although most of them will have been written before the weather prevented most of us from going anywhere!  The Daily Telegraph, for example, has been running a series by Martin Rowe which included one which grabbed my eye because it went around Croome Park in Worcestershire.

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The Panorama Tower © National Trust

Croome was the first commissioned design of Capability Brown, and work started for the earl of Coventry in 1751 and took about 30 years to complete.  But Brown’s house, landscape park and the buildings within it [by Robert Adam, James Gibbs and Brown himself] eventually fell into a state of near ruin, and were threatened with destruction.

 

geograph-1421519-by-Philip-Halling

The restoration of the Panorama Tower
© Copyright Philip Halling & licensed for reuse under  Creative Commons Licence.
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1421519

I’d been meaning to  visit Croome for years – there’s something haunting about “discovering” somewhere grand in decline: overgrown and decaying. Of course, not living anywhere nearby, I somehow never got round to it.   Now its too late. Or at least too late at least to catch that looming sense of  impending tragedy, because the National Trust have averted that, and over the last 17 years has transformed the estate.

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© Friends of Croome Park

In a sign of how our conservation interests have widened in recent years, having rescued the temples, follies, bridges and statues the Trust have also saved the remains of RAF Defford, a Bomber Command airfield which occupied part of the estate.

This year  they are turning their attention to restoring the house, one of the few attributable to Brown. During the work, which is expected to last over two years and cost about £7 million, part of the  house will be left open in its current dilapidated state so there’s still a chance to see something of this sleeping beauty estate before it’s too late.  You can read more about its history on our database:

http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/site/1000/

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The Dining Room complete with faux candelabra
© National Trust

But  I’ve decided I really must get there before the house is restored as well.  And one of the few good about the house being in a state of disrepair is that the Trust don’t have to worry too much about the effects of the weather on the fittings and furnishings: there are hardly any there! So, unlike many other National Trust properties, parts of the house will be open to visitors much of the winter.  If I do finally get there I’ll report back.

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Defford airfield from the air in 1945, seen from the east, looking towards the Malverns
©Defford Airfield Heritage Group

Both Croome and RAF Defford have an active Friends group, and there is also a separate project restoring the enormous walled kitchen garden.

There’s more information about them at:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome/

http://www.friendsofcroomepark.org.uk/page2.html

http://deffordairfieldheritagegroup.wordpress.com

http://www.croomewalledgardens.com

The Daily Telegraph walk can be found at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destination/uk/england/97126/Great-winter-walks-Croome-Park-Worcestershire.html

and we have one on our database too:

http://www.parksandgardens.org/places-and-people/image?id=3698

And I hope the weather is better than this!

geograph-3310800-by-Philip-Halling

Flooding at Dunstall Castle, Robert Adam’s folly c.1766© Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3310800

About Parks and Gardens UK

Parks & Gardens UK is the leading on-line resource for historic parks and gardens providing freely accessible, accurate and inspiring information on UK parks, gardens and designed landscapes. Email - info@parksandgardens.org. Website - www.parksandgardens.org
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