Saturday, June 17, 2017

Croome Court

We strolled up to the house.

This is not the first house on the site and the current house is built around the prior house. 

Guarding the front door. The Sphinx never looked like this and presumably some poor woman had to model for this.

A sculpture of chairs in one of the entrance rooms.

As you look at the photos of elegant living, remember that the Coventry family left the building in 1948. Croome became a school for disadvantaged boys run by nuns. In 1979 it was sold to Hare Krishna devotees. In 1984 it was sold to property developers and the house and gardens fell into disrepair. In 1996, the National Trust acquired the parkland and in 2007 the Croome Heritage Trust bought the house and leased it to the National Trust. Repairs were made to keep the house watertight but there is still a lot to do.

We joined a free tour of the basement. The guide explained that the model shows that the old part of the house is the central part coloured red. The outer part was designed by Capability Brown.

The guide said that they think this arch which is filled in with brick is part of the old house. They don't know what is on the other side of the brick.

What the old house looked like. The chimneys and the curious structures on the roof are still part of the house.

And old window to nowhere which was used for venting the wine cellar. The glass comes from Elizabethan times.

Most of the basement has been left as they found it but they are researching what lies beneath the paint.

This used to be the butler's room with the steel door leading to the room where they stored the valuable silver. The room was used as a bathroom for the school boys.

The silver room.

Really old and decrepit telephone punch down blocks. They tend to be a maze of wires.

A curious collection of boots.

Some of the basement floor. The guide said they think some of the bigger flagstones came from a nearby demolished church.

As Crocodile Dundee would say, 'That's not a switch, this is a switch'. Massive circuit breakers for electricity to different parts of the house,

The restored Long Room on the ground floor. They would have held receptions and dances here.

View from a window across to the Temple Greenhouse.

The fire place.

Detail of the ceiling.

More about the painting of the house below.

The walls of this room used to be covered with tapestries. The son of one of the Earls lost a fortune gambling in 1900 and to cover the debt, the tapestries and furniture were sold. They now reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you can see the tapestries here.

The tapestries used to cover these bare walls.

An example with the story of the tapestries below.

A photo of what it used to look like. It's a pity that the tapestries probably will never be returned to the room they were made for.

The ne're-do-well  is standing behind his mother.

My understanding is that this box held commodes.

A decoration on the commode box.

Some of the china. The Coventry family owned lots of land and were incredibly wealthy at one time. 

I am not sure why this toilet is here in a place of honour.

Some sort of sculpture made out of petals made from pages of books.

Going up a set of stairs to the next floor, we came to the living quarters. This was the mistress's bedroom at one time. Because of the wall paper design, it was known as the Chinese bedroom.

Presumably this bare floor was covered by carpet.

Another bedroom with an alcove for the bed.

A chair for a person with gout.

There used to be a bath here in the center of the room. The weight caused the floor to sink a little.

A photo of the school boys.

The nuns, some of whom were ogres. The boys usually hold a reunion every year and many of their memories are not happy.

Floor plans at the time that the house was used as a school.

During WWII, Croome was used as a top secret facility where new radars were developed and tested. Part of the grounds was used as an aerodrome (RAF Defford) and this continued until the 60's.

Children of the Hari Krishna.

We left the house and continued the walk back to the entrance.

I used to play on one of these when I was a small child living in Toowoomba. This one was used by the school boys.

The wall of the walled garden. It was not open the day we went which was just as well because we were all getting rather tired.

A rotunda at the top of a hill.


The ceiling.

Obviously the carver used different children as his models.

Beautiful carvings.

The floor of the rotunda.

The path continued.

Holding up the wall of the garden.

The London Arch, gateway to the property.

The ice house, presumably where the ice was stored for the summer months. I wondered why it was so far from the house.

Inside was a deep well presumably where the ice was stored.

A final view of the the house. It had been a wonderful place to visit and the grounds were amazing.

Map of the aerodrome and you can make out its proximity to Croome. There is a small museum with some photos of people who worked at the aerodrome. Because it was a top secret facility developing radar, the locals wondered what was going on at the time but never discovered the secrets. Interestingly, the first hands off landing by a plane occurred at this aerodrome in 1945.

A separate building houses part of a Canberra jet bomber that was used for training. The volunteer who was in the room used to fly them when he was in the Air Force. He later became a pilot for British Airways and flew just about every commercial plane during his career including 747s and 757s. As he said, if it had wings he could fly it.

It really was a wonderful visit. We might even go again to visit the walled garden.

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