Michael Forster-Smith – Croome National Trust Manager

Croome – Restoration and Plans for the Future

Talk – October 1st 2019

Michael proved to be a charismatic and knowledgeable member of the NT whose enthusiasm for the Croome project was much in evidence. He gave a history of the Croome lands after the Norman invasion when it was controlled by Urse d’Abitot the first Norman sheriff of Worcester.

The sixth Earl of Coventry inherited appr 15,000 acres in 1751 and although known as being of very poor quality the land was also known as ‘soggy’, hence the draining of the land into the river and ornamental lake after Capability Brown was commissioned in 1750 to landscape the grounds and refurbish the originally red brick house.

Croome Court (grade 1 listed) is now a Bathstone Palladian mansion incorporating substantial arts of the previous C17 mansion, the interior including work by Brown, Robert Adam, G. Vassalli and J. Rose jnr.

C20 saw a decline in the estate and in 1948 it was sold in various parcels to a succession of owners including the Archdiocese of Birmingham who ran a boys boarding school in the court until 1979. It was then sold to the Hari Krishna who occupied the court until 1984.

In October 2007 Croome Court after suffering years of neglect, was bought by the Croome Heritage Trust who took the property on in partnership with the National Trust which undertook to run and repair it after obtaining Heritage Lottery funding. The house opened to the public on 26 September 2009 after being made safe and the Trust have now extended the lease to the NT for 999 years.

The adjacent Red Wing is currently the subject of major repairs and refurbishment and it is hoped to be able to view the site some time next year.

Michael gave much more information including the sale of furniture and artefacts – some of which is on show in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and some in the V & A in London, together with news of future events and exhibitions not to be missed!