One such is the privately-owned Croome Walled Gardens in Worcestershire, adjacent to the National Trust property, Croome Court, and run in conjunction with them. Though there’s probably been a garden there for longer, the park landscaping and the remodelling of Croome Court and the walled gardens are the result of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first commission, started in 1751.
One surprise to me when I got there was to find that they have a ‘Hot Wall’. Built in 1806, it has 5 ‘furnaces’ along its length and so must have cost a fortune to run. At its western end there are the roofless remains of a service building incorporated into the wall. Evidence of it being a tool-store, in the form of tool-pegs on the inside wall, didn’t hide the fact that it looked like its use had changed more than once over the last two hundred years.
So, my interest was very much taken by a post last week on their Facebook page. On commencing to restore it, they have uncovered evidence of that ‘service building’ actually being the rear portion of a Georgian vinery, also from 1806 and also heated in a similar way to the hot wall. They’re obviously very excited about it, and who can blame them? There are a few photos on the post of how it looks currently, and some of what appears to be an original plan and description. One aspect that amazed me is the amount of glass used. I’ve always assumed that the Glass Tax (in force until 1851) applied to such buildings, too, so what a statement of wealth to make – all that fuel for the hot wall and the vinery, and the Glass Tax too.
The gardens are owned and run by a dedicated couple, Karen and Chris Cronin, but what a project to take-on. Derelict when they moved-in, they have spent the last 15 years clearing, repairing, rebuilding, replacing and replanting. Still a work-in-progress, the gardens are open Friday to Sunday each weekend, March to September (but check before you go) and I heartily recommend a visit.