Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Croome Court: House, Park, And RAF Base

We over-nighted in a large lay-by northwest of Hereford, having decided to see three or four more of the National Trust sites nearby in Herefordshire and Shropshire. First, the next day, was Croome Court, the park for which was Culpability Brown's first commission, and which includes a Georgian hall and an historic WWII RAF base. Culpability had a hand in designing the hall but not the RAF base, although it is interesting to speculate how he might have handled the run-ways, revetments, control tower (a folly?), the anti-aircraft batteries, etc. The artificial hill--a hazard to landing approaches--would have to be moved back into the artificial lake, at the very least, and the river re-diverted. In any case, I would conjecture that Croome, particularly the hall, is one of the Trust's biggest challenges. Its history is all over the place, no coherence nor connectedness, few artifacts remain of any part of it...just not much material for a historical narrative that doesn't appear, um, contrived. On the other hand, no one could contrive a history as bizarre as Croome's. Apart from architectural restoration, it is becoming a showplace for contemporary "art."
The small but excellent RAF museum

The secret RAF Defford airbase in 1944

Secret because it was where considerable R&D for airborne radar
was done, where radar was installed in night-fighters, etc., and
where crews, including many women, were trained in use of radar


And thus

And thus

Part of the grounds, including an obligatory folly

The Church of St. Mary Magdalen...Culpability said it had to be a
real "eye-catcher"

Burial items were brought in from the former non-eye-catching
parish church; apparently some of Croome's earlier residents
had been to Italy and seen the recumbent Etruscan tombs

More grounds

Former Jacobean court

The new house, Croome Court

The grounds, before...

And, after...Culpability's plan

The long hall...nothing in it except contemporary

Needs work

Barbara, 6th Countess of Coventry; the Conventrys are still going
strong, but sold Croome in 1946; for 30 years it was a Catholic
boys' high school; then, the Catholics sold it to Hare Krishna (it
was their national headquarters); 5 years later the Hares sold it
to what became a succession of developers...one who wanted to
make it a conference center, one who wanted to make it a fine
restaurant, and one who lived in it, hoping to flip it back into
a grand home, and make millions; it 2007, it came to the National


In what may have been the Georgian dining room; the painting
was actually done by the Hares!

One of the developers had interesting ideas about decoration

A flink on the grounds, just beyond the ha-ha ("hee-haw" to

Today's swans, approaching the Chinese Bridge on the re-directed
river, just before the obligatory artificial serpentine lake

Although some of the views were great, not one of my favorite

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