You are here: HomeNewsVisit to the Hagley Hall Estate on 11th October 2014
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Bromsgrove Road, Hunnington 1975

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Bromsgrove Road, Romsley

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Dayhouse Bank, Romsley

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Hunnington Station

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Bluebird Toffee Factory, Hunnington

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Romsley Sanatorium

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Romsley School

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St Kenelm's Church, Romsley

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Vincent's Houses, Hunnington

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Vincent's Toffee Factory, Hunnington

Visit to the Hagley Hall Estate on 11th October 2014

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A number of members of the Romsley and Hunnington History Society and the Romsley Art Group joined a group from the West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust and the Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust, firstly for a buffet lunch and then to walk the grounds of the Hagley Hall Estate.

Lord Cobham welcomed us and was joined by Nik Reading, the conservation architect. Before lunch Lord Cobham gave us a potted version of the family and house history and also gave us an idea of his aspirations for the future. The estate is gradually being renovated with the rebuilding of the Palladian Bridge and the obelisk, and the repair of the rotunda. The Temple was the last of the items to be looked at for repair.

Lord Cobham was working towards a visitor centre, coffee shop and museum sited off the A456, before the roundabout, almost opposite the Badgers Set. People could then walk the grounds or just visit the coffee shop. It was seen as the best way forward to getting sufficient funds to keep the house and grounds in good repair. £300,000 would be needed to look after the Hall every year.

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At 1.00 p.m., after a nice lunch, we set off to walk the grounds. Joe Horkins, the man heading the rebuilding and refurbishing of the grounds, putting them back to the days of the 18th century, led the group, with Nik Reading giving the architectural information. Lord Cobham also joined our group of about twenty for part of the walk. Joe was wonderful, he was so full of enthusiasm and keen to show us what had been achieved so far and what were the plans for the future. He showed us the water cascades leading down the hills which had been found, rebuilt with the original rocks and were now working. Those avid watchers, like me, of Country File, will have seen Joe and Mat Baker putting one of these cascades back together. We saw three pools in all, not really visible before because of neglect and overgrowth, but which had now been dredged and repaired. The first pool had the beautiful newly built Palladian Bridge. Nik informed us that they had found the original drawings and had rebuilt exactly the same. All they had left to see of the original was the arch under the bridge. The new bridge had had to have modern construction underneath to prevent slippage from the rear, but apart from that they had stuck rigidly to the original scale and drawings. From standing on the bridge you could view upwards to the rotunda as the grounds had been originally landscaped. From here we walked up the slope viewing other pools and cascades, Shenstone, Milton and Pope being mentioned. They all have their particular spot in the grounds.

It was noted that a large stag was always not very far away from us. The deer park was quite well stocked and we viewed the female deer with their youngsters on a number of occasions during our walk. Parts of the grounds were fenced in to prevent the deer damaging the new stonework. We walked to the rotunda and viewed the new roof. Nik informed us how they had gone about this repair. We could view down to the Palladian bridge and then into the distant hills through the trees. At this point a decision had to be made whether the steep walk to the castle would be undertaken. All but a few did so. It was well worth the effort. This castle was a part-lived in follie. Afterwards we made our way back down to the Hall via the panoramic view of the countryside from Milton's seat.

There is a lot of work for Joe to carry out but what he has restored so far is wonderful. His knowledge of the estate and his archaeological finds to do with the grounds were so interesting and his enthusiasm rubbed off on us all; we look forward to the time when his aspirations and those of Lord Cobham are achieved.

As a member of the History Society, having already listened to the talk by Julian Hunt on William Shenstone and The Leasowes, I found it made the day even richer. I was very glad Joe gave recognition to Shenstone and his park. If in the future all comes to pass I fully recommend a visit to our local Stately Home grounds.

Jean Cockin

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