Towards an outdoor nation

The south front of Croome Court seen across the lake. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The National Trust has started a project called Outdoor Nation to examine the British public’s relationship with the outdoors.

Visitor walking in the park, with a view to the church, designed by Brown to act as an eye-catcher. ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Have we lost touch with nature? What benefits do we get from being outdoors that we cannot get through other experiences?

The Rotunda. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Croome Court, in Worcestershire, is a great example of a designed landscape that allows people to reconnect with nature.

©NTPL/David Noton

It was created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown during the second half of the eighteenth century for George William Coventry, later the sixth Earl of Coventry.

The icehouse - evocative, but obviously in need of restoration. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Croome established Brown’s reputation as the creator of the new English landscape style garden. Robert Adam and James Wyatt also contributed various garden buildings.

Urn by Robert Adam, park by Lancelot Brown, sky stylist's own. ©NTPL/David Noton

In the 1940s an RAF airbase was built on the estate, and in 1948 the house was sold off. In 1996 the National Trust acquired the heart of the estate, with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and began to restore the landscape.

©NTPL/David Noton

The house has recently been acquired by the Croome Heritage Trust, which is working with the National Trust to allow visitors to experience Croome as a whole once again.

10 Responses to “Towards an outdoor nation”

  1. Alison Says:

    love the sky comment!

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes it is only the sky that escapes the pervasive branding, and then only just :)

  3. style court Says:

    Again, seeing an image of a person walking the grounds of a NT property changes the perspective. Croome seems to synthesize the best of nature and man’s designs. Perfect post for a Friday. (Brilliant sky caption!)

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Courtney – yes I should try to feature more images with people.

  5. François-Marc Chaballier Says:

    Is the iron footbridge XVIIIC as well? I thought, but that may just be my ignorance, that ironwork this scale would not have happened until the 1820s or so, if that.
    A brilliant blog, which makes one want to explore more of England. Us Continentals tend to stick far too much to London and the south.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    François-Marc, I am so pleased that this inspires you. Apparently the first of the wrought-iron bridges at Croome was made in 1795, replacing earlier wooden ones. But as you suggest they must have been quite advanced at that time.

  7. Blue Says:

    Beautiful photographs, especially of the bridge over the water.

    I’ve just looked at the chapter on Croome Court in The Genius of Robert Adam where there is a lovely, stark black and white photograph of the garden front. The caption says the garden or south front was built by Brown to designs by Sanderson Miller. All that apart, the photographs in this post are very nostalgic for an ex-pat.

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Blue, yes that shot through the bridge is magical, isn’t it? Graduated light, reflections, framing, nature, architecture – it’s got everything.

    I must get that book, which is supposed to be excellent, and improve my paltry knowledge of Adam.

  9. Janet Says:

    I think Capability Brown would most heartily approve of the Trust’s initiative. He had an extraordinary ability to make a landscape seem impressive in scale, but approachable in nature.

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    That is a good characterisation: impressive enought to confim one’s status, but approachable enough to encourage other ‘polite’ people to enjoy it.

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