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 Worcestershire Witley Court

English

An early Jacobean manor house, Witley Court was converted in the 19th century into a vast mansion, first by John Nash and later in the Italianate style by Samuel Daukes. The spectacular ruins of this once great house are surrounded by magnificent landscaped gardens - the 'Monster Work' of William Nesfield - which still contain huge stone fountains. The largest, representing Perseus and Andromeda, which has just been restored, was described as making the 'noise of an express train' when it was fired.

Before 1846, when William Humble Ward (later first Earl of Dudley) inherited Witley Court, the land surrounding the house was laid out in the English landscape style originated by Lord Foley. As part of Ward's transformation of the estate, he called in the leading landscape designer of the time. This was William Andrews Nesfield, whose skills in designing intricate and elegant parterres were complemented by his great ability as an artist and engineer. Nesfield started work in 1854, creating the south parterre with its great Perseus and Andromeda fountain. His scheme involved elegantly designed plantings of clipped evergreens and shrubs, with parterres that were enclosed by more clipped evergreens. It was at this time that the second Earl of Dudley's wife created the small topiary area still known as My Lady's Garden. Now privately owned, it can nevertheless be seen by visitors.

Following a disastrous fire in 1937, the Witley Estate, including its gardens, fell into long decline. English Heritage has now restored the south garden. The Woodland Walks in the North Park pass many different species of tree and shrub, acquired from all over the world to create a showpiece. A new garden in 'The Wilderness' is part of the Contemporary Heritage Garden project, designed by Colvin and Moggridge. This provides yet more opportunities for walking within Witley Court's grounds.

Attached to Witley Court is Great Witley Church, which has a superb baroque interior (not managed by English Heritage). The church also has a tea room close by and Witley Court has a superb gift shop. Please call the site (01299 896636) for details of the fountain firing.

For further information please visit:
 
Historic Site
 

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