Gardens at Weston Park
The beauty and tranquillity of the House is the result of centuries of creativity, collecting and patronage of artists and craftsmen, by generations of one family, the Bridgemans, Earls of Bradford. Gifted to the nation in 1986 by Richard the 7th and present Earl of Bradford, and with the support of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, it is now in the care of the Trustees of The Weston Park Foundation.
Award winning 17th Century Stately Home set in 1,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland and situated on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border. The attractions include the House, Adventure Playground, Miniature Railway, Gallery and Gift Shop, Stables Coffee Bar and Restaurant, Auditorium, formal gardens, woodland walks, lakes, follies and much much more.
“New for 2006” Yew Hedge Maze and Orchard
The landscape of Weston Park has developed over some 650 years. Its growth and character are due to the conscious intention of the family of the Earls of Bradford to provide Weston Hall with a spectacular and well designed landscape setting for their buildings.
The park was to offer carefully controlled vistas, walks, carriage drives and pleasures to impress and delight both the family and visitors. The majority of the trees in the park are those planted during the nineteenth century and, in the woodlands, more recent forestry plantations, although some trees from the earlier Deer Park have survived.
Large areas of the Pleasure Grounds around the House can be attributed to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-83) who earned his nickname by telling his patrons that their estates had ‘great capabilities’.
The Shrewsbury Walk and Deer Park
Over recent years this area has been cleared of obscuring undergrowth to allow the beauty of the 18th century landscape to re-appear in all its glory. From the Orangery, the path to Shrewsbury Walk leads to Pendrill’s Cave.
Originally, this calm and beautiful place was called the Cottage Garden, then Rose Garden but was subsequently renamed the Teardrop Garden to echo the statue which can be seen in the centre. The statue was found in a clump of Rhododendrons and different tales exist about why such a sad figure should be in such a beautiful spot.
Medieval Deer Park – pre 1671
The deer park was in existence by 1346 and was set out to the east of the existing landscape park. Some of the large oaks in the south west of the park are the remains of planting in the ‘Lower Park’ of the medieval deer park. Old Park Pool was probably the medieval fish pond referred to in 1358.
In 1658 the deer park was still in existence and consisted of the Upper Park and the Lower Park. The latter, with the exception of Old Park Pool is still part of the Park. Also lying outside the modern day park boundary are the earthworks, or ‘park pale’ of the deer park which lie in the farmland to the east. The moated site (a scheduled ancient monument), lying to the south east of the Pheasantry, probably marks the site of the medieval hunting lodge within the deer park.
Formal Landscape 1671-1763
Evidence for the existence of a pre- ‘Capability’ Brown formal landscape comes from references in the Brown contract to features which could be connected with a formal landscape which was fashionable during the late 17th century when the Hall was built.
Brown’s ‘sunk fence’ (ha-ha) cut through the ‘Square Pond’, which, as a result, had to be filled in and the ground levelled. Brown’s second contract refers to levelling the ground alongside the ‘East Avenue’. Field evidence for this formal landscape has mainly been destroyed by Brown’s work. However the magnificent sweet chestnuts in the Pleasure Grounds could be the remnants of a double avenue leading up to the east front of the Hall. There are also references to a Bowling Green and Cherry Orchard.
The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden is based on a circular theme. The formal rose garden pattern has been defined by box edging and santolina and all of the roses have been chosen for their soft pink and white colours and repeat flowering habits.
The Broderie Garden
The sunken garden was designed to be viewed from the Orangery which was added to the House in 1865 by the 3rd Earl to grow exotic fruits for the family. As you look across to the Orangery, you will see the view of Weston which became famous in May 1998 when the Prime Minister hosted the Retreat Day for the G8 Summit at Weston. The formal meetings were held in the Orangery. The seasonal bedding plants provide an eye-catching display with year round colour provided by Euonymus ‘Emerald and Gold’ and Salvia Purpurascens.
The Italian Garden
In 1991, the Weston Park Foundation commissioned Nada and Fred Jennett, a garden designer and her architect husband, to re-design the three formal terraces which run the length of the House.
They were asked to re-plan the terrace in a contemporary way, more suited to today’s gardening constraints, such as lower maintenance needs, but retaining an echo of the original Victorian style.
Along the Upper Terrace there are six wooden Versailles style plant containers. Each contains a formally clipped Portugal Laurel tree.
The Long Border, set against the south wall of the Upper Terrace has been sectioned into five bays by the planting of Yew Buttresses. The centre of each bay contains a Box ball which is surrounded by a circle of Santolina to echo the small round Windows in the gable ends of the House. The centre section is planted with a mixture of annuals, dahlias and cannas while the rest of the border has perennials, roses and shrubs.
The Pleasure Grounds and Park Landscape 1763-1819
The Pleasure Grounds are the areas outside the formal gardens which would have been used for ‘pleasurable’ purposes such as walking. They were designed by the famous English landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. His influence in the Park, however, is not so clear. It is likely that he advised on the laying out of the drive with views across to Paine’s ‘Temple of Diana’ but there are no existing trees in the park today which can be unquestionably attributed to that period.
Brown was commissioned in the same year that he was working at the nearby Tong Castle for George Durant. The Pleasure Grounds to the north west of the Hall, enclosed by the ‘sunk fence’, or ha-ha, with a dry stone wall, was the area which Brown designed under the first contract in 1765. This also included the entrance drive to the Hall door which was, at that time, on the south front. The second contract in 1766 which proposed a dairy and Greenhouse were for the Pleasure Grounds to the south-east of the Hall.
In the Pleasure grounds a great proportion of the original planting and the layout of the paths survive. It is difficult to date the cave (Pendrill’s Cave) and the grotto-like tunnel which connects the two parts of the Pleasure Grounds underneath the main entrance drive, other than to assign them to the late 18th or early 19th century. However it should be noted that Brown’s proposals for pleasure grounds elsewhere do contain similar subterranean features.
The layout of the Pleasure Grounds, with the ‘Temple of Diana’ commanding vistas over the Parkland to the Shropshire Hills in the distance, is very similar in concept to other of Brown’s works.
Brown’s second contract refers to the ‘Menagerie Pond’. Weston Park ‘Fountain Pool’ (possibly existing as a formal feature) was enlarged in the late 1760’s into Temple Pool (to be found behind the Temple of Diana). Brown was probably responsible for proposing the layout, buildings and form of the Pleasure Grounds. The actual, more detailed, designs for the Temple and Bridge at Weston were by James Paine (c.1783).
Paine described the Temple as housing a tea room, music room, vaulted dairy and also a stone bath.
An orangery in one portion of the building may be the Greenhouse mentioned in the Brown contract. The Extensive journal of Sir Henry Bridgeman’s improvements at Weston records daily the work at the Green house, the Dairy and the ‘Doom’ (Dome) at the Greenhouse.
The ‘Upper Park’ of the medieval deer park was still in existence in 1755 when it was called ‘The Old Park’ on a map of Staffordshire by Yates. An approach road through the park was set out during this period as Brown contracted to continue the ‘Road from the Hall Door to the Offices’.
Certainly the Temple was meant to be seen from the south, sitting in a ‘bosky’ wood. Sometime towards the end of the century, Sir Henry Bridgeman set out an ornamental feature in the parkland – the Obelisk.
Award winning 17th Century Stately Home, Adventure Playground, Miniature Railway,
Gallery and Gift Shop, Stables Coffee Bar and Restaurant, Auditorium, formal gardens,
woodland walks, lakes, follies and much much more
“New for 2006” Yew Hedge Maze and Orchard
Please call for admission prices and times