Birthplace of the British love affair with gardening

CHRIS MOWBRAY

The birthplace of Britain's modern love affair with gardening, Croome Park in the Severn valley, brought international fame to the nation's greatest-ever landscape artist. Now the park, designed by Capability Brown in the second half of the 18th century, is to be restored by the National Trust over the next 10 years at a cost of pounds 8m.

As the National Heritage Memorial Fund announced in Cardiff yesterday that it was giving pounds 4.9m towards the project, officials of the trust's Severn region shunned the reception to get out and about on their new treasure in Wellington boots and Barbour jackets.

It was during the 1750s that the then unknown Lancelot Brown was retained by the sixth Earl of Coventry to turn 675 acres of Worcestershire marsh into a classical manicured landscape which set the standard for sweeping parklands across the country in the Georgian age.

The unusual partnership between the two men developed into a life-long friendship and created a new art form inspired by classical philosophy and the concept of the Grand Tour.

It also earned Brown his nickname. When reporting on how the work was progressing, the designer would regularly knock on his employer's door to tell him: "The park has its capabilities, my lord."

"This was Capability Brown's first great landscape park and it is of tremendous importance," David Brown the trust's regional public affairs manager, said.

"It is also unusual because it includes work by the architect Thomas Adam and the sculptor James Wyatt. Here you have something which combines the work of the three finest artists of the late 18th century.

"It has altered little since it was created except that it has decayed and was ravaged by Dutch elm disease in the Seventies. We intend to restore it totally and will be opening it so that the public can see the work taking shape."

The centrepiece of the park is Brown's mile-long artificial river, which is really a man-made lake. The land also includes his grotto to Sabrina, the goddess of the River Severn, made with some of the earliest artificial garden stone.

Other features include a man-made island, two classical temples designed by Robert Adam and the statue of a druid and a memorial to Brown by James Wyatt.

The trust's regional director, Cecil Pearse, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity to restore a unique creation. Brown carried out the work only for the Earls of Coventry, but we are doing it for the nation - that is why we find it so exciting."

The park is being bought from the Sun Alliance, which has owned it since 1981 and is giving pounds 300,000 towards the restoration. The house itself, Croome Court, is empty. Owned now by a property developer, it is on the market and is not part of the package.

The estate was sold off and the Coventry family moved out in 1948. The 11th earl, known locally as "Bill", still lives near by and walks regularly on the land.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor