We chose a rather windy day for our first visit to Croome Court in Worcestershire. So-called “Storm Henry” was on its way out, and although the sun was shining, the wind was almost strong enough to knock you over. We arrived mid-afternoon having not yet got round to lunch, so our first port of call was the restaurant, which occupies one of the old RAF buildings one meets on leaving the carpark. These are buildings associated with RAF Defford, an old wartime airfield now occupied by a radio telescope, right next door to Croft Farm. I was too hungry to get any photos of these buildings, and after scoffing a most satisfactory jacket potato with lashings of cheese and a bottle of Dandelion and Burdock, we made our way towards the house and my first photo of the day.
The view of the Malvern Hills is spectacular from the landscaped grounds, which are the work of none other than Capability Brown. This is the view from outside the church, of which there are photos further down this post.
The pathway winds rather pleasingly down to the house, which you can just see in the photo below (it’s a bit dark, because we were looking directly towards the sun). It was so windy that we were almost knocked to our feet by the strong gusts, and had to shout to make ourselves heard when talking to each other!
I was surprised to learn that Capability Brown had designed/remodelled both the landscape and the mansion itself. I hadn’t even realised that he designed buildings as well as landscapes! He didn’t do many of them, so Croome is a rare example (he did have a couple of architects helping him, mind – Sanderson Miller and Robert Adam).
It was too late in the day and too windy to venture over to the temple/folly that you might be able to see nestled in the trees in this photo, but that’s something to look forward to on a warmer day.
The view looking back towards the church, where we’d just walked from. The church too was designed by Capability Brown.
Capability Brown is also responsible for the man-made river that runs, seemingly naturally, past the house.
On entering the house we were greeted by a real log fire and a bevy of guides, one of whom approached us and explained that Croome is “not like other National Trust houses”, as I had indeed discovered through following the house on Twitter and Instagram. It’s empty, and it’s in the process of being restored, meaning that parts of it are pretty much a building site and not open to the public at the moment.
There’s a lovely view of the Malvern Hills from many of the windows of the house.
This is the Long Gallery, the niches of which are now filled with “modern art” of varying levels of dubiousness, I believe all by local artists. I must own to being unmoved by the majority of modern art, so I didn’t really pay much attention to it (I was more interested in that interesting fireplace and the ornate plasterwork on the ceiling, some of which was crumbling in places). At the other end of the room, not pictured, was an absolutely hideous “installation” of some sort of inflated plastic glove things blowing out of the wall. I thought it was such a blight on this lovely room that I purposefully omitted it from my photography!
It’s so intriguing to see a grand house empty like this, and the lack of furniture forces one to pay closer attention to things that can get overlooked when a room is full of interesting things. I noticed details like the door surrounds and the remaining paintwork much more than I would normally.
I loved the contrast between the gold and the sort of mint green in this room.
This room gave more of a sense of the former grandeur of the place, with all the gold and beautiful carving.
Corinthian columns! I love the way they’ve picked out the fluting with gold.
The walls of this room were once hung with fine French tapestries, which have since made their way to a museum in New York, would you believe. It’s interesting to see what the walls behind look like – a mish-mash of different panels of wood.
This was the dining room, complete with a welcoming fire and plasterwork details picked out in jolly colours.
Back outside into the bracing wind, the sky formed a spectacular backdrop to the house.
Spot the Croome bird. We saw a couple of them in the trees, but we weren’t too sure what they were all about! I like things like that though.
We just had time for a little look inside the church on our way back to the car. Once inside, it took all Lee’s strength to get the door closed again because of the wind!
I understand that there are quite a few follies dotted around the park, so we’re looking forward to finding them when we visit again on a warmer and less windy day.
There’s also an RAF museum that we didn’t get time to see this time, telling the story of Croome during the Second World War and its links with its neighbour, RAF Defford. The guide told us that the first floor of the house would be reopened at some point as well, so there are loads of excuses for repeat visits!