I guess for me, it wasn't until I read the book 'Mistress Of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy, 1803-1889', drawn together by Alice Fairfax-Lucy, that the property as a whole really started to make sense. The property today, whilst still home to the donor family, is a thriving and well visited tourist location situated just a few miles from Stratford upon Avon. The parkland is a magnet for those visitors who like a longer stroll in olde-world surroundings, amongst deer, and of course there is the stunning mansion with obligatory NT shop and cafe, the latter being shoe-horned into an otherwise handsome orangery.
|Charlecote Park, taken whilst on a Deer Park Safari 2009. Gary Webb.|
|Parterre/River Terrace, 2008. Gary Webb.|
Whilst the book brought certain elements to life for me, my imagination finds it easy to do the rest, if I may dream for a moment: In the courtyard, with fine-looking carriages tucked behind solid timber doors, I sometimes sit towards the end of a day, and across the cobbles I visualise one of the gentlemen climbing onto a horse before riding out to visit tenant farmers. Leaning against solid Tudor brickwork inside the brew house, I feel the lost warmth from the fires and can almost smell the malt brought in for brewing in those huge copper pans. And, last but not least, when I stand in the great hall before the large estate painting, I can almost stroll along those raked gravel walks, with pots of neatly clipped evergreens and views out through avenues to the distant Warwickshire hills.
|Woodland/Wilderness Garden, Charlecote Park. 2009. Gary Webb|
|River Avon and cascade at Charlecote Park. 2009.|
|Charlecote Park, Mary Elizabeth Lucy's Summerhouse. 2008. Gary Webb.|
In no way have I attempted to tell the full story of Charlecote, for it is so heavy with history that a hefty book would be needed to serve justice. In this post I've attempted to exhibit the elements that reach out to me as someone fascinated in the estate, the buildings, their history, and of course the gardens. I haven't found the space to write about the Victorian Kitchens, where the range is regularly lit for demonstrations, and neither have I spoke about the notable tree collection. There's the Jacob sheep, and the story of their arrival at Charlecote, and of the modernisation of the house in the Tudor taste, I could continue. If you're in the slightest way intrigued by social and family history, architecture, gardens or the country estate, then I hope my post will inspire you to visit and enjoy the ambiance that Charlecote has in abundance.
|Charlecote Park, Jacob Sheep, 2009. Gary Webb.|
Charlecote Park (National Trust.)
Charlecote Park - Wikipedia
Warwick Castle - Wikipedia
Compton Verney - Wikipedia