Alarm Over Threat To Capability Brown Garden At Croome

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 19 April 2006
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a photograph of a country house taken several hundred metres away in the park

A view of Croome Court from the Temple Greenhouse in the park. © NTPL

The National Trust has formally objected to a proposed housing development at historic Croome Court, Worcestershire, on the grounds that it would ruin one of the largest and most important 18th century walled gardens in Europe.

Croome Court – the mansion designed by renowned 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown – is owned by a private individual who has applied for planning permission to build six executive homes in the Court’s historic walled garden in order to fund the restoration of the mansion as a private dwelling.

The Trust say the mansion and walled garden lie at the heart of Croome Park, which was bought by the National Trust in 2006 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.

“The 7.5 acre walled garden at Croome was designed by Capability Brown himself,” said National Trust Gardens Curator Julian Gibbs. “The proposed development would effectively mean that this priceless and important survival of garden history would be lost forever.”

However Malvern Hills District Council approved plans in February 2006 to change the use of some outbuildings at Croome Court to studio/office accommodation and to demolish some agricultural buildings. A residential dwelling is now on the market with a local Worcester estate agent at an asking price of £495,000.

In an effort to avert what it sees as the irreversible damage threatened by this and proposed developments for the mansion, the National Trust, in partnership with the Croome Estate Trust has unveiled an alternative proposal that would allow Croome Court to be restored, refurbished and opened to the public for the first time.

a photograph of an ornamental urn set in the grounds of a large country park and house

An urn restored as part of a 10-year project at Croome Park offers another view of the Court from the park

The Croome Estate has already made a written offer to buy Croome Court on the basis that it would be leased to the National Trust, who would manage the property, carry out essential restoration work and open the gardens to the public.

“'Capability’ Brown’s first job for Lord Coventry was to transform the house and turn it into an integral part of the landscape,” said Peter Scott, one of the Croome Estate Trustees.

“The original vision was that the house and the garden are interlinked. The possibility of re-uniting the park and the house, and of bringing the Coventry family’s collections back under the roof of Croome Court, is truly exciting. It would be spectacular to see the pieces, park and house all together again.”

This year (2006) marks the completion of a major Heritage Lottery Fund ten-year agreement of restoration works, which has seen the park return to its 18th century character.

During this period, £3.5m has been invested and the work carried out includes the replanting of 45,000 trees and shrubs, the removal of 50,000 cubic metres of silt from the river and lake, the restoration of two and a half miles of historic footpaths and of 18 ornamental statues and buildings.

“Proposals that threaten the historic walled gardens at Croome are unacceptable and an alternative solution is now urgently required,” added Julian Gibbs. “The chance to secure the integrity of Capability Brown’s incomparable legacy at Croome, and to open it up fully to the public cannot be overlooked.”

The Trust is inviting anyone requring further information or wishing to provide support to contact the Estate Office on 01905 371006.

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