I went to Croome Park today and had a fabulous afternoon exploring the gardens, so I thought I’d post a few pictures from my visit 🙂
Croome Park has been owned and run by the National Trust since 1996 and restoration work continues today. Croome pioneered the English Landscape Style of gardening and was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first complete landscape design, begun in 1751 for 6th Earl of Coventry. Robert Adam and James Wyatt also worked on the parkland buildings and on Croome Court, the mansion at the heart of Croome Park. Croome Court was recently acquired by The Croome Heritage Trust which will manage the property along with the National Trust. It’s an expensive project – £4 million is needed to turn the house into a tourist attraction – but it’s hoped that the mansion can be opened to the public for the first time later this year.
After a whirlwind romance, the 6th Earl of Coventry married Maria Gunning in 1752. Maria was the elder of the famously beautiful Gunning sisters, who caused a sensation when they appeared in London society in 1751. Maria died tragically young in 1760 from blood-poisoning caused by the continued use of lead-based face powder.
Church of St. Mary Magdalene
The 6th Earl had the old medieval church demolished and engaged Capability Brown to design a new building to take advantage of the views across the estate. It was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, perhaps in honour of the Earl’s first wife, Maria.
(The church is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust)
Here’s the elegant Robert Adam-designed interior of the church.
The ice house, which is currently undergoing renovation work. Ice houses were used to store ice for use in the kitchens. Ice could be stored for up to three years. An ice house is mentioned in my novel, The Paradise Will.
The Temple Greenhouse
The Temple Greenhouse built in 1760. The greenhouse was used to display exotic plants from the Earl’s collection. In winter, they were protected by huge sash window which were installed just behind the columns. Warmth was provided by a fire in the brick building at the rear and the heat was transmitted to the greenhouse through voids under the paved floor.
The lake is the focus of the pleasure gardens. It’s surrounded by a series of paths from where visitors could enjoy the view of trees, shrubs and monuments reflected in the waters of the lake. Croome Court is visible in the distance.
The Island Pavilion
This great little picnic spot is sited on an island in the middle of the lake and was built in 1776-8.
This has to be my favourite…work began on this wonderful grotto next to the lake in 1765. It was originally covered in shells, corals and semi-precious stones and it must have been a magical sight, especially at night when it was lit by lamps. The statue of the water nymph Sabrina was unfortunately still wearing her winter coat today…she’s on the left of the picture, under the green tarpulin!
What a wonderful place for a romantic assignation! I’ll definitely be making use of this idea in future stories ;0)
Croome Court – now owned by the Croome Heritage Trust and due to open to the public later this year.
All in all, a wonderful day! Croome Park is well worth a visit if you’re in Worcestershire 🙂