Enchanted wooded parkland, sweeping gardens and a house with a surprise, Dudmaston is something unexpected in the Shropshire countryside. A much loved home for over 875 years you will find the family rooms scattered with photos and perhaps an odd pair of shoes or two peeping out from under a table. The unexpected galleries create a total contrast, with their formal, crisp lines. They were designed by the last owner, Rachel, Lady Labouchere, to house her and her husband’s differing modern and traditional collections of art for the visitor to peruse.
The gardens provide amazing vistas and tranquillity while the orchard is the perfect place to relax and for the children to let off steam. For more stunning views and getting up close to nature head to Big Pool and Dingle woods, while the wider estate provides extensive walking routes for year round enjoyment.
Whilst reading about the artist Bob Murray I was reminded of my visit to The Museum of Steel Sculpture in 2012. The sculptures were dotted around a 10 acre woodland site in Coalbrookdale. On arrival we were greeted by Pam, the co-founder of the museum as we gave her the nominal museum entrance fee. The sculptures seemed to work in their woodland setting, with sunlight dappling through the trees and the larger sculptures dominating the grassy areas. As we were about to leave Pam came out of her house to talk to us and ask if we had enjoyed our visit.
Founded in 1991 by the sculptor, Roy Kitchin FRBS, the Ironbridge Open Air Museum of Steel Sculpture occupies a 10 acre site situated within the historically appropriate district of Coalbrookdale, England. This extraordinary region, known as “the cradle of the Industrial Revolution”, was designated by UNESCO a “World Heritage Site” in 1986.
The Museum is barely half a mile from the remains of the Blast Furnace where, in 1709, Abraham Darby I successfully smelted iron using coke as the fuel instead of charcoal. Here too, in 1779, the world’s first iron bridge was cast, which still spans the River Severn today.
Registered as a Charitable Trust the Museum, since the death of it’s Founder in 1997, has been managed by his widow and co-founder, the sculptor Pam Brown, supported by an experienced Board of Trustees.
Pam wound up the museum during 2014 so that she could concentrate more on her own work. The sculptures have been moved to a new home at the British Ironwork Centre near Oswestry. I wonder if they will work as well in their new setting.
…from Arley Arboretum
Out in the leafy Worcestershire countryside, Arley is a lovely place for picnic, either the station, where there are a number of excellent spots, or by the river which is just 200 metres down the lane. A footbridge will take you over the river to the village and, after a short walk, you will arrive at Arley Arboretum.
These beautiful historic gardens and arboretum dating back to the late 1700’s are surrounded by over 1600 acres of countryside within the picturesque village of Upper Arley beside the river Severn. In addition to providing wonderful walks through the grounds there are walks along the banks of the river, all set in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside with far reaching views.
Go back in time and watch the Severn Valley Railway trains steam across the hill from one of the magnificent signposted walks.
Sugnall Walled Garden has been painstakingly restored by the owners of Sugnall Hall, the Jacques family.
It is now back to its former splendour as a four quadrant, two acre walled garden.
Walled gardens are a uniquely English concept and were built to grow fruit and vegetables; the high walls created a warmer micro-climate, which extended the growing season.
Today, although only two quadrants (and the perimeter of the walled garden) are productive, in which a variety of crops are planted all year round, including 50 varieties of pear and 100 varieties of apples.
The other two quadrants consist of one that is laid to lawn and hard standing, just outside the beautiful tearoom, and the other than since 2012 houses the Summer Marquee from April to October.
The high garden wall that completely surrounds the garden dates back to 1738 and consists of around a quarter of a million red Staffordshire bricks.