Sunday, 12 February 2012

A frosty Worcestershire Morning

A Saturday morning visit to my Aunt and Godmother in Abberley but just enough time for a small detour to see Witley Court. I remember coming here as a child with my parents and climbing over the fence to see the ruins. Times have changed ;Witley Court, is a Grade 1 listed building and was once one of the great houses of the Midlands, but today it is a ruin after being devastated by fire in 1937.witley-court-and-gardens

It was built by Thomas Foley in 1655 on the site of a former manor house near Great Witley. Subsequent additions were designed by John Nash in the early 19th century and the Court was subsequently bought by the Dudley family in 1837. Following the disastrous fire in 1937, the Witley Estate, including its gardens, fell into long decline. English Heritage has restored the south garden. In addition, Wolfson Foundation funding has assisted with major restoration works in the East Parterre garden which was completed early in 2011.

There was a sandstone medieval church on the site but this was replaced by the Foley's with the magnificent  Baroque church which can be seen on the right of the picture below.

See greatwitleychurch for more about the church

The surrounding grounds are also being developed and opened to the public
After leaving my Aunt I headed back south via Evesham and up Fish Hill.  Standing out in on the horizon as I approached the hill was the Braodway Tower - something I have seen many times before from a distance but never been close to. If you turn off the main road just at the top of the hill it is only a short distance away.

The Tower was the brainchild of the great 18th Century landscape designer, Capability Brown. His vision was carried out for George William 6th Earl of Coventry with the help of renowned architect James Wyatt and completed in 1798.

Wyatt designed his "Saxon Tower" as an eccentric amalgamation of architectural components ranging from turrets, battlements and gargoyles to balconies.
Members of the Arts and Crafts movement used Broadway Tower as a holiday retreat. Pre-Raphaelite artists William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones were frequent visitors. Indeed, it was Broadway and the Tower that sparked Morris' campaign for the preservation of historic monuments.

The Royal Observer Corps used the unique vantage point to track enemy planes over England during the world wars of the 20th Century and later constructed a nuclear bunker to report nuclear attacks during the "Cold War". It is 65 feet tall and its top (at 1089 feet above sea level) is said to be the highest point in the Cotswolds.

Close to Broadway Tower is a memorial to the crew of 5 of a Royal Air Force Whitley Bomber, killed when it crashed here during an operational training flight on June 2nd 1943.

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