Inside Brown’s secret garden

28.08.2015 | category: Gardens
A garden full of rose bushes

Croome Court in Worcestershire has been the seat of the Earls of Coventry since the late 1500s. In 1751 the 6th Earl, George William Coventry, employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to redesign the massive landscape which spreads out in front of the Malvern Hills. This was to be Brown’s first major solo commission

The Walled Kitchen Gardens at Croome Court are secreted within the inner grounds of the estate, less than 200m from the mansion. At the time of Brown’s arrival the five-acre walled gardens had been in place for nearly 50 years and were of a traditional ‘four square’ layout. Instead of relocating the gardens a mile or so away from the mansion (as he was latterly well known for doing), Brown decided to extend and reshape the perimeter walls to form a new, unique, rhomboid geometry. The new walled gardens had now become the largest in Europe yet, due to the ingenious layout, could not be seen from anywhere on the estate. This was truly the ‘secret garden’.

Brown had two ornate gates constructed, one in the north-east corner, and the other in the south-east corner of the walls. He also designed a new grand avenue, which ran parallel to the west-facing wall. It later became known as the Earl’s Walk, as it provided the Earl with the means to show off the massive gardens to his guests without having to rummage through the vegetable beds.

Further modifications to the gardens under Brown’s instruction included a new 14m diameter dipping pond and a vine house. The vine house has since been replaced by a newer design, but all other elements remain intact.

The Walled Kitchen Gardens at Croome Court are privately-owned. The gardens are open to the public on special dates throughout the year – see the website for more information.

Capability Brown designed Croome's parkland, and collaborated with Robert Adam to remodel Croome Court into the fashionable Palladian-style house it remains today. Croome’s house and parkland are now looked after by the National Trust