Friday, 4 August 2017

Croome Court and Grounds

via Nation Trust
In 1751, following the unexpected death of his elder brother, George William Coventry, 6th Earl of Coventry, inherited Croome Court and grounds. He was a handsome 28 year old 18th century trend-setter, with a grand vision to transform Croome, and to this end he set about employing the most contemporary architects, designers, and craftspeople of the day.
via wiki
Croome Court and grounds became the very first commission for Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Not only did he redesign the whole landscape but he also remodelled Croome Court during which time he became firm friends with the Earl.
via wiki
Robert Adam, known as 'Bob the Roman', the renown Neo-classical architect, and furniture designer, created his first complete room design at Croome Court, and he too became a close friend of the Earl.
It was one of those bucolic pastoral mid-summer days with fluffy white clouds scudding across an idyllic blue sky.

The natural looking landscape at Croome is completely man-made to 'Capability' Brown's design. This, the first of Brown's landscapes, pioneered the move from formal gardens to more natural looking landscapes. Before Brown worked here, the land was a boggy marsh called 'Seggy Mere'.
With Brown's engineering and drainage skills he created a lake miles long which in parts narrows to resemble a river winding through the parkland. It took hundreds of men over 10 years to dig it out by hand.

Walking around the lake and grounds gives endless views and vistas to enjoy
Interrupted from time to time by the inevitable folly, ha ha, or hermits grotto.
Beyond the trees, distant hills - "The Malverns" - partially flank the grounds, this is where Edward Elgar lived. He composed his music whilst walking in these hills during the day, and writing it down on his return home in the evening - The Enigma Variations, Nimrod, Land of Hope and Glory. 

St Mary Magdalene
The Coventry family church was designed by  'Capability' Brown with an interior by Robert Adam. Unexpectedly, a sudden glorious peel of bells rang out over the landscape. The bells had just been returned to the church following a major restoration and a group of local bellringers were giving them an airing. Peels of church bells have been a part of life here ever since medieval times.

The Chinese bridge, where Brown's lake effectively resembles a river
 Built out of Bath stone in the neo-Palladian style, Croome Court is now bereft of its treasures, but the interior and long gallery by Robert Adam remain intact.

A fine cantilevered stairway
For 130 years a set of beautiful French tapestries lined these walls. Their dominant colour was raspberry pink, they were the pride of Croome, until they had to be sold in difficult circumstances.
Now they can be seen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Croome Estate Trust still owns a very large collection of the best furniture, paintings, and porcelain that once graced Croome Court - all of which are of great national importance. In time, as the house is fully restored, and under an agreement with the National Trust, these wonderful pieces will be returned to the house for which they were made.
 Using Brown's original plans, the National Trust have so far spent a sum of 8 million pounds restoring his landscape at Croome.

39 comments:

  1. Great post. To dig a lake, he must have been very ambitious to create nature as he desires. Sad they had to sell the tapestries, although more people can admire them, only all the way in New York.

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    1. Brown had an enormous impact on our landscape, and particularly on the land surrounding so many of our stately homes.

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  2. What a wonderful place to visit, I am sure that the Brownian landscape must be amazing!

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    1. It was a lovely day Amy which was defintely a big plus too.

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  3. Enjoyed your narrative and wonderful photos, Rosemary. The bells ringing out as you walked by must have been a lovely experience. £8 million...mmm...makes you think. A reminder that preserving our heritage is an expensive business; should we revisit our priorities?

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    1. I don't object to our heritage being perserved. For me, it is an important part of our history and also it protects it for future generations. The money sounds a great deal, but it does mean that lots of people have been employed carrying out the restoration to the benefit of their families and society as a whole.
      The bells were lovely - the bellringers were carrying out 'change ringing' which was special to hear.

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  4. Dear Rosemary, I am so pleased to see that a formal Palladian designed structure can live so happily with grounds that were designed to be natural.

    We didn't have to dig, by shovel, our 1-acre pond. It was there. The pond was the reason we built our house in this location. And we also kept it natural even though it was suggested that we "improve" it.

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    1. Dear Gina - you have achieved a similar formula as these 18th century gents.
      I would be like you and keep your pond just as it is.

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  5. Charming journey and beautiful pictures. You are a natural at travel writing. I want to go.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment Linda - may be you could visit one day.

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  6. Sigh......so beautiful. I love Capability Brown´s landscape gardens, they are so natural and just belong to these great heritage buildings in your country.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing it Jannneke

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  7. Hello Rosemary, Eight million doesn't seem that high to restore such a large estate, especially a property of such high cultural and historical significance. Does that figure include the house also? (For those who only look at pound signs, one also has to consider income from increased traffic, etc.) It's a shame that Croome Court's contents had to be broken up--I always want these houses to be in effect giant time capsules.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - the 8 million pounds was spent on the grounds only. Fortunately the majority of the contents of the house are being held in trust until they can be returned to the house following a full restoration. Eventually it will look much as it did in the 18th century - apart from the raspberry coloured tapestry.

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  8. What a lovely, lovely place. It is so sad that so many of these great houses couldn't be maintained. This one seems to have survived pretty well, apart from loosing it's furnishings. I think I read many of these great houses were torn down after WW1 because the families just couldn't support them anymore.

    It is just astonishing the amount of labor that went into building these places with no help from any mechanical gas powered equipment. Just lake alone is impressive enough.

    With all our currant capabilities, I doubt anything we build today will still be standing in 100 to 200 years.

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    1. You are right Catherine many of our great houses were sadly torn down, but fortunately we do have a plethora of historic properties here still.
      The furnishings are safe and being held in trust until they can be returned to the house following a full restoration.

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    2. I am so glad to hear they intent to restore it and the furniture will be returned.

      Sadly, I doubt the Met Museum will return the tapestries. They might have spent a lot of money to clean and restore them.

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    3. I should imagine that they will have copies of the tapestries made to replace the originals.

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  9. I was so pleased to read that the house is being restored and its treasures are safely intact. It is such a beautiful place and the landscaping by Brown is quite wonderful. I do love the Chinese bridge. It is easy to imagine Elgar being inspired by the scenery and the lovely hills. The hermit's grotto is a bit of a worry - it looks like it could get awfully damp living in there!

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    1. I imagine that it will be a good number of years before the house is ready for the treasures to be brought back - it has certainly taken a while for the landscape to return to all of its glory, and of course some of the replacement trees are still immature.

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  10. Fantastic creator of landscapes and shifting vistas but I wouldn't fancy being a digger of lakes in those days. I've walked over the Malverns so enjoyed that photo of them- superb range of hills. Still remember the views from the various summits.

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    1. I can just see the Malverns from our own Cotswold hilltop ridge.

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  11. What a wonderful informative and beautiful post. Happy to hear that the treasures will return eventually return to their rightly place.

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    1. Thank you Janey - so pleased that you enjoyed the post.

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  12. He certainly was a handsome young man. And what a spectacular ceiling. Thanks for another glimpse into English history.

    Ms Soup

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    1. The portrait was painted when he was 42years old, but he is still a good looking man. Thank you for visiting it was nice to see you here.

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  13. It's a beautiful place and a lot of work was put into it to look like that. It is glad that the house will return to its glory and not destroy it. Regards and thank you for the support regarding the surgery.

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    1. Dear Giga - it is lovely to see you back again, and good luck, we shall be sending you all our best wishes.

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  14. So very beautiful place, the bridge is lovely and the photo of spiral staircase is lovely.
    Hugs

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  15. If only i had 100 me for 10 years to sort out my garden. Beautiful photos as always

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    1. Can you imagine just how much all of that toil must have cost even then?

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  16. I wonder if I saw the tapestry ... It has been a while since I have visited the Met but I love the rooms with rooms :)
    The stone is such a wonderful color .. I cannot imagine living in a home that is that size but I sure would not hesitate to try :)
    I enjoy these photos and stories so much, if you can't fly to England to visit , this is the next best thing.

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    1. What a lovely comment - thank you, and I am pleased to have had your company varcariously.

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  17. Dearest Rosemary,
    When listening to those Church bells now and admiring the many breathtaking views, one cannot but ponder over the hundreds of men that dug and dug out the land for creating this!
    Indeed, someone with a great vision was at work here and once again at a huge sum of 8 million it will get restored to that.
    May many thousands enjoy this beauty and keep it up!
    Thanks again for your class photos.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - It is good that this landscape, the first by 'Capability' Brown, has now been restored. Some of the newly planted trees are obviously going to take time to mature, but having visited the restoration several years ago at the very beginning we could see just how well it had progressed - thank you for your kind comment♡

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