Croome’s Home Shrubbery coming to life

Croome Court, set in its Capability Brown Park. ©NTPL/David Noton

There is good news from Croome Court, Worcestershire, where this autumn the Home Shrubbery has been opened up, so that visitors can now walk up to the Rotunda.

The Rotunda, also designed by Brown, its roof and external stonework restored. ©National Trust

In 2008 the Rotunda was near collapse (an image of it pre-restoration can be seen in this post), but through extensive restoration work its roof and external stonework have now been repaired. The work was funded by substantial donations and grants from members of the public, from a legacy and from Natural England and the Wolfson Foundation.

Croome property manager Michael Smith contemplates what still needs to be done on the interior of the Rotunda. ©National Trust

The team at Croome hopes to be able to start restoring the delicate plasterwork decoration on the inside in 2012, allowing visitors a close-up view of the ongoing work. There are also plans to recreate the original exotic planting in the Home Shrubbery, as soon as funds allow.

The Temple Greenhouse. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

Another improvement has been the reinstatement of the large sash windows of the Temple Greenhouse. This will allow it once again to be used to grow exotic and tender plants, as in the time of the 6th Earl of Coventry in the eighteenth century.

The steps on the north front, photographed before their recent restoration, with a view towards the Temple Greenhouse. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The restoration of the steps on the north side of the house has now also been completed, once again thanks to a generous legacy.

One of Capability Brown's drainage culverts in the park at Croome, still in situ but in need of restoration. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

However, much remains to be done at Croome, including the restoration of the interior of the Rotunda, but that all depends on further fundraising. Donations towards the conservation work can be made through the Croome webpages.

8 Responses to “Croome’s Home Shrubbery coming to life”

  1. Parnassus Says:

    A great restoration job. I looked at the original photo, and in Taiwan, a restoration would have made the building look totally new, but the Rotunda definitely still belongs to the 18th century.

    I love substantial outbuildings like these. In many early American estates, the outbuildings are often either utilitarian or rather delicate–summer houses, pergolas and such. Those also are valuable, but still it’s nice to see ashlar and plaster.

    Oh, and the Capability Brown culvert photo is really cool.
    –Road to Parnassus

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Parnassus, yes those cultural differences in the way things are restored are interesting, aren’t they? The National Trust approach still tends to be informed by the ‘anti scrape’ – i.e. don’t over-restore – ethos of William Morris and his fellow early conservationists.

    In the case of the Croome Rotunda we of course hope that the new stonework will quickly start to blend in with the old :)

    But in other contexts different approaches may be legitimate: e.g. temples in countries like India are regularly ‘renewed’ rather than restored, but then they are so heavily used for daily worship that you cannot treat those buildings as ‘just’ monuments – their continued use is part of their heritage value. And interestingly the trend in Britain at the moment is also (or again) towards increased use of old buildings.

    Yes I put the culvert in as a reference to the fact that much of Brown’s success was due to his technical nous – he was an engineer and a kind of feng shui master as well as a gardener. Croome is a case in point: draining the boggy ground and controlling the water were preconditions for creating the beautiful landscape composition.

  3. graham daw Says:

    Emile I’m presuming that Natural England’s involvement with the rotunda is by way of a ‘higher level stewardship’ agreement over the parkland.If so,this is an example of the enlightened grant aid available to landowners to repair landscape features such as temples and other exotica.First though, there are the hoops to jump through in getting accepted for HLS.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Graham, that is an interesting question. I will ask Michael Smith how the Natural England grant fits into the overal funding arrangements at Croome.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Graham, Amy Forster at Croome has just told me that Natural England have funded the restoration of a number of parkland buildings there, as well as the conservation and restoration of the parkland more generally.

  6. Mark D. Ruffner Says:

    If only the greenhouse had plumbing, I’d be ready to downsize and move in. It is delightful to see such grandeur at so small a scale. Croome Court is indeed a treasure!

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mark, it sounds like you would be an ideal ornamental hermit (as long as you had plumbing) :)

  8. HRH The Duchess of State Says:

    Beautiful & informative. Thank you.

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