28th July 2016
Members and friends assembled in the new Welcome Centre for a visit to Spetchley Park Gardens and from where the wind turbine could be seen across the fields working well in the breeze.
We were introduced to David Pollitt volunteer gardener and guide who gave us background history to the house and gardens which are in the process of being overhauled and improved with the aid of Heritage lottery funding, and who explained that over the decades many plants and trees had been planted with enthusiasm but no planning and were now proving time consuming to maintain, although to our eyes looking very beautiful.
We were shown the outside of Spetchley House owned by the Berkeley family and built in the Georgian style by John Tasker in 1811 close to the site of the original residence, which was a moated Tudor house owned by the Lyttleton family, then the Sheldon family passing on to the Berkley family in 1605 until the eve of the Battle of Worcester in 1651 when royalists burned the house to the ground to prevent Parliamentarians using the building. We were guided round the park shaded by many pines including huge Cedars of Lebanon and containing a huge variety of plants providing banks of colour.
One of the many interesting things pointed out were the Victorian underground brick lined drains, apparently big enough to walk through, leading to the lake – perhaps another time! As part of the restoration, the lake itself has been drained, restored and refilled and is once again full of life.
We were shown various buildings including the old stables now used for functions including weddings, one room known as the bridle/bridal room. The Gardeners Cottage is where Elgar is reputed to have written ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ inspired it is said by the sound of the wind through the pine trees.
Several tiny pixie doorways at the base of some trees and in rocks leading to pixie houses were also pointed out but obviously not accessible to us mortal folk.
We wandered through The Melon Yard, the Kitchen Garden, the Millenium Garden not forgetting Lovers Walk with the Apollo Statue to mention just a few of the walks all with a huge variety of borders and different plants overlooked by the Malvern Hills in the distance.
The afternoon was finished off by refreshments in The Old Laundry Tea Room and a big thank you to Sue Ellis for arranging the visit. There is so much still to see another visit is essential!