Croome Park was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first complete landscape design. He
was brought to Croome in 1752 by George William Coventry, the 6th Earl of Coventry,
who had just inherited Croome Court and its deer parks together with 15,000 acres
The new Earl was 28 years old and full of ideas on the new movement towards classicism
in architecture and landscape design and probably saw the young Brown as a man whose
aspirations matched his own. Together then they set about transforming the 17th century
house and its Dutch style parterre garden into an undulating rural idyll set about
with trees and lakes and rolling away to the distant Malvern Hills. At the focal
point of this scene sits the house, Croome Court, which was given a total face-lift
that changed it into the Palladian style mansion that we see today
But there is a practical reason behind all this beauty – Croome Court sat on the
edge of a bog. Brown, though, had an instinctive talent for understanding drainage
and water management, so he created a lake and a mile and a half long serpentine
river to draw away all the surplus water. His scheme worked and so the basis for
the creation of what seems an entirely natural English landscape was set.
At the same time a beautiful summer pavilion, known as The Rotunda (possibly by Brown),
was built near the house at the top of the Home Shrubbery, positioned to give a panoramic
southerly view of the new Parkland.
Around 1759, however, there appeared a ‘new kid on the block’ – the architect, Robert
Adam - and the Earl, for whom newness and modernity were the key-words, had to have
him. So he it was who designed the interior of the Church, parts of the interior
of the house and most of the garden buildings: the Temple Greenhouse (1760); the
Worcester or Pier Gates (c. 1763); Dunstall Castle, a folly to the south (1765);
the Island Temple (c. 1766); the Park Seat (c.1770) and the London Arch entrance
By 1796 the 6th Earl was 74 and Brown and Adam had both already died, but for its
owner Croome was not yet finished, so he brought in the latest ‘mover and shaker’
in the architectural field to complete his idyllic vision – James Wyatt. Wyatt was
commissioned to upgrade some of the existing buildings and to design three more ‘eye-catcher’
follies: the domed Panorama Tower on high ground to the west; Pirton Castle, a ruin,
to the north and Broadway Tower (not NT), high on the Cotswold scarp to the east.
Also in 1796 William Dean became Head Gardener and it was through him that, after
the Earl’s death in 1809, Croome continued to blossom and flourish well into the
19th century. In 1824 he listed in Hortus Croomensis over 5,000 plants growing at
Croome, reputedly at that time a collection second only to that at Kew.
Croome Court is not a house that had a garden made as an after thought to embellish
it; here the Parkland and House form one integrated unit, created together and without
each other neither would seem so glorious.
Croome Park - Creation & Evolution
For more information on the principal influences on the creation and evolution of
Croome Park, please click on the appropriate links above-