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 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.