"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Monday, 22 August 2016

Hanbury Hall - Part 1: The Gardens

Last Thursday B and I visited Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire - a William and Mary-style country house, garden and park which I have long wanted to see. The house was built in 1701 by Thomas Vernon a London lawyer and Whig MP for Worcester. He built the Hall as a country retreat and to tell the world he had "made it".

There was a beautiful flower meadow by the Visitor Centre - lots of bees were seen during the visit but I didn't see many butterflies.

We started off our visit with tea and coffee and walnut cake in the Stableyard. There are three tearooms at this National Trust property! - the small one in the Stableyard, a larger one nearer the house where you can sit inside or out and another one on the first floor of the Hall.

The land around the Hall can be split into three parts - the Formal Garden, the Later Gardens and the Park. The Great (Formal) Garden was designed by Royal Gardener George London c1700 and was laid out in the modern style containing intricate and symmetrical parterres and areas divided by clipped hedges or walls. Later in the 18th century the formal gardens disappeared as the fashion for Capability Brown's informal landscaping style swept the country. Luckily, various plans and designs for London's garden have survived and following research the Formal Gardens have been restored.

The Formal Gardens consist of the Sunken Parterre, The Fruit Garden, The Wilderness, The Grove, the Bowling Green and the Orangery. The Later Gardens consist of the Walled Garden and the Park surrounding the gardens includes the Lime Tree Walk, the Long Walk and the Spur Avenue.

My favourite garden was without doubt The Sunken Parterre ("The Jewel of the Great Garden").

B has recently started to paint again concentrating on water colours rather than the acrylic paints he used to use so he was really pleased to see there was an exhibition by the Birmingham Water Colour Society. The exhibition was held in the Long Gallery which in the past has been used as a study, a picture gallery and an exercise area.

This is the Vernon Coat of Arms of three sheaves of wheat.

The paintings really were very good although I didn't like to take any individual photos of the work on display. My favourite was one of a hare which was quite inexpensive for an original painting.

Some more photos of the parterre

The Fruit Garden - "The second garden should be a garden of fruit".

A pool with views of the parkland

There were some juvenile moorhens at the edge of the pond - I do wish I had had the Canon bridge camera with me so I could have taken a photo they were too far away for my camera lens.

The Wilderness "Lose yourself contemplating concerns, back and forth, back and forth"

The Orchard

The Walled Garden - today these gardens are run organically and provide fruit and vegetables for the tea-room keeping the link between house and garden. Hanbury is also well known throughout the Midlands for producing plants to sell at other National Trust properties in the region.

The Orangery was not part of the original London design but was added around 1745. It is 66 feet wide with a tile floor and was heated by a hot flue system. The possession of an Orangery was another display of wealth as growing citrus fruit in this country was costly and time consuming.

It asks in the information board above if you can find the only "flaw in the floor" - when one of the tiles was being made in the 18th Century a dog stepped on leaving a paw print which is now over 250 years old and here it is!

The National Trust's only Bowling Green

The Grove - "A place of quiet reflection where nature screens your secrets".

The Formal Vegetable Garden

The formal gardens at Hanbury, particularly the Parterre, the Wildnerness and the Orangery, reminded me of local Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens which I have visited a lot over the years. Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens are a rare example of an English Baroque Garden restored in recent years to the period 1680-1762 when the Gardens were at their peak. The gardens were designed by Captain William Winde who consulted with eminent gardeners such as George London and the Holly maze there is based on a design by George London and Henry Wise.

If anyone can recommend a good book on the History of English Gardens please leave a comment as I would love to hear your recommendations.

Part 2 of the post will include a Tour of the House.


Margaret Adamson said...

yes another wonderfu place you have visited. Magnificent building adn stunning gardens. Love the oranges.

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks so much Margaret. Garden and House all superb :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Love the the wildflower garden, but that cutout man is a bit creepy!

Toffeeapple said...

Such extensive gardens! I wonder how many workers they require?

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon - there were two cut-outs by the entrance - I was half tempted to pose but I don't do "selfies"!! :)

Toffeeapple - Thanks Toffeeapple. I am not sure how many gardeners although I would imagine they also have volunteers. Hoping to return (although probably next year now) so will try and remember to ask.

CherryPie said...

The last time I visited (a few years ago), the garden was waterlogged in places. This meant we had to explore different ways to get to the garden places we wanted to see.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thanks so much for the comment. What a shame about part of the gardens being waterlogged when you visited - hope you get chance to go back when it is drier.

Wendy said...

Hanbury Hall is certainly an example of wealth in the 18th century. It looks as though no expense was spared in creating and landscaping the gardens. I do love the way the dog sneaked in and stepped on the tiles! The flower meadow looks beautiful.

Ragged Robin said...

Wendy - Thanks so much. I would imagine it cost an awful lot of money to create the gardens and put so much into the house. I liked the dog story too and it was good to see the flower meadow covered in bees :)

Millymollymandy said...

Another interesting property with varied extensive gardens! You certainly have a lot in your neck of the woods. :-) I love orangeries. Thanks for the interesting tour!

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thanks very much Mandy. We are lucky really to have some love gardens fairly locally - my only problem is persuading OH to visit them!

John Scurr said...

Your post made me dash to find my guide book, well exactly sent me on several days search for my guide book. I was intrigued by the Vernon coat of arms. There is a convention that men's arms are on a shield shaped shield and that women's arms are on a lozenge shaped shield. Clearly these arms are on a nearly circular shield with a very frilly edge. The arms would appear to represent an unmarried daughter of a Vernon and I wondered if this linked in to the story of Emma Vernon.
My guide book says the Jacobean overmantle "is made up from church woodwork and is carved with the symbols of the passion. It frames a fine funerary hatchment with three Vernon wheatsheaves".
If the overmantle is Jacobean then it is too early for Emma Vernon, also if it was Emma's hatchment I would have expected it to include the arms of at least her last husband. Another good tale bites the dust.
My guide book is dated 1989 so it is a long time since I visited Hanbury but the sunken parterre looks like a newer feature (re-creation).
Thanks for an interesting post and also for your recent comments.

Ragged Robin said...

John Scurr - Hi John and thank you so very much for your exceedingly interesting comment. I am sorry though you spent so much time guide book searching - know the feeling well as a lot of my books and holiday guidebooks maps etc. are in storage boxes and it is a nightmare when I want to find something!

I've got the Hanbury Guide to hand though and will type up what it says about the Vernon Arms. First of all it confirms your thought about the overmantel being Jacobean. "The Long Gallery is paralleled with two striking Jacobean overmantels. The first is partly made up from woodwork from a church framing a canvased painted with the Vernon Arms and it stands over an original marbled chimneypiece of about 1700. (The 2nd overmantel possibly started life as a abed-head at Tickenhill House, the palace meant for James I's eldest son Prince Henry in nearby Bewdley.)"

There is also a small bit of info on the Vernon Arms and I will quote again from guidebook. "The Vernon family arms of three sheaves of wheat are very similar to the arms of the town of Vernon-sur-Seine in Normandy, France, from which the family originally hailed. The description of the Vernon Arms displayed in the Long Gallery, using the traditional language of heraldry is as follows" Or, a fesse azure with three sheaves or thereon and a crosslet fitchy gules in chief". Translated this means that there is a golden background, on top of which is a broad horizontal band in blue. On this and are three golden sheaves of wheat, surmounted by a cross with a smaller cross at the end of each arm, the cross with a dagger-like end in red!".

Hope that is of interest! :) When I return, although will probably be next year, I will try and find out more i.e. when the garden was restored, portraits of Emma and any more Coats of Arms. Also must visit the church - perhaps she was interred there?? and there may well be more info to find. I thought the Emma story would make the superb subject for a book!Even if only a work of fiction.

Another thought re: your interest in heraldry. Do you visit Baddesley Clinton - lots of heraldic glass there. Somewhere...............!! I have a book I once bought from there explaining all the heraldry in the glass - a really fascinating subject :) If I can find the book (recently moved hundreds if not thousands of books downstairs to a huge floor to ceiling bookcase which covers one wall) and I think it is in there somewhere) will leave another comment here with more details.

Thanks so much again.

Thanks so much again John

Ragged Robin said...

Found it! :) its called "Heraldry at Baddesley Clinton" 2nd ed. Published by National Trust 2013 Copywright Clem Hindmarch and Mary Tweddle 2013. The intro mentions the wealth of armorial glass and shields in BC house and church. There are 170+ shields of arms, representing members/marriages of Ferrers and Derlings from 11th century onwards. There are 81 plus pages and lots of colour illustrations and explanations of the glass etc. I think, from memory, it was quite dear around £10? I also have a vague memory that there were other booklets also about the arms etc. but I couldn't afford to buy all of them. Not sure if you can still buy it - I seem to remember it was on sale in the second hand bookshop area (even though it is a new book).