Croome Park – a lovely afternoon’s walk
Thanks to the National Trust’s fab weekend offer of free entry to the majority of its properties we have had a lovely afternoon out at Croome Park in Worcestershire. The property is only 20 mins or so drive from my house but I have never visited it as I am not generally a big fan of landscape gardens. However, it was a sunny Sunday and it was free so off we went.
The landscape garden was commissioned by the 6th Earl of Coventry in 1751 shortly after he inherited it. The man he commissioned to building the park was ‘Capability’ Brown and it was Brown’s first commission. Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was so called because he had a habit of say ing that his client’s site had ‘capabilities’. In order to create the lake and river which are synonmous with Brown a medieval church was demolished and replaced with the one in the above photo. The village houses were moved and the big house Croome Court was rebuilt along with a number of follies around the park. The whole project took 50 years to complete.
The park is full of viewing points and follies. There are two simple bridges over the lakes which give you even better views of the park. Follies include the Temple Greenhouse, the Dry Arch Bridge and the Island Pavillion.
This is not the place for someone who likes pretty floral gardens, no this is a grand parkland filled with many unusual trees and shrubs. In its time it was said to be second only to Kew in the variety of shurbs/trees it held. The property is now owned by the National Trust and since 1996 they have replanted over 45,000 trees and shrubs, removed 50,000 cubic metres of silt from the lake and river, reinstated two and half miles of historic plaths, returned 400 acreas of arable farmland to English wildflower meadow and restored 18 ornamental statues and buildings. You can see how busy they have been from all the deer protectors on the young trees.
Despite being a landscape garden there were some lovely spring flowers dotted around the shrubs. There were lots of swollen buds on the trees, particularly the Horse Chestnuts. Looking at the overall layout of the parkland we were struck by the large expanse of grass land to the front of the house which was presumably to get the best of the views, although the Malverns were off to the left of the view! Unlike modern gardens, the shrubbery and walk around the lakes to see the grottos was some walk from the house, presumably to encourage the 18th century family and guests to get some exercise. I could certainly imagine Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcey exploring the follies!!
We decided that we would definately be visiting again later in the year to see how the developing seasons change the views.
It was a lovely start to what should be a fab year of outside visits – we have quite a list planned for later in the year.