Looking for a day trip from Birmingham that the whole family will enjoy?
Witley Court and Gardens is an 18th century English Heritage property that is situated in Great Witley, Worcestershire less than an hour drive from Birmingham City Centre.
Walk Through the Ruins
Once the home to lavish parties and royal visits, the impressive house (built in an Italianate style) was completely destroyed by a fire in the 1930’s and now stands as a set of stunning ruins in the middle of beautifully landscaped gardens. After an extensive restoration project and managed by English Heritage, it is possible to walk through the ruins, including the once stunning Ballroom, which extends almost the full length of the East Wing. It is possible to still see some of the charred timbers after the fire, and information boards around the grounds give an insight into how the house would have looked at its peak of opulence.
Step Inside the Conservatory
Although technically part of the house, the Conservatory at the side of the building escaped the fire but was gradually stripped down over the years afterwards, eventually leaving it totally open to the sky. It was once one of the largest buildings of its type in an English country house and had an enormous curved glass roof. Its self-controlled heating system was fuelled by coal, which made it possible to cultivate a large range of exotic plants and palms.
See the ‘Firing’ of the Fountains
The two large fountains in the grounds survived the fire and breakdown of the house. The enormous Perseus and Andromesa fountain, designed by Nesfield and created by James and William Forsyth, has now been restored back to full working order by English Heritage after a seven-month project and it is possible to see it ‘firing’ every day from April to the end of October. It is also possible to see the remnants of Nesfield’s parterres, along with two stone temples in the formal gardens and the damaged Flora Fountain.
Explore the Woods
Witley Court is surrounded by a vast expanse of parkland, a lake and a Victorian boathouse. With an enormous variety of wildlife, the paths and areas around the house and gardens provide a beautiful walk.
Visit the Church
Great Witley Church, or the Church of St Michael and All Angels, is situated right next to the main building and is equally as stunning. Completed in 1735, the church remained intact after the fire and is used for regular services and owned and maintained by volunteers as a Church of England parish. It has never been a private chapel and isn’t owned by English Heritage. The interior is surprisingly beautiful and unexpected, particularly in the oil on canvas ceiling paintings by Antonio Bellucci (circa 1720). The three large paintings depict ‘The Descent of the Cross, The Ascension and The Nativity. There are twenty cherub paintings, ten of which illustrate the Instruments of the Passion.
Planning Your Visit
Witley Court is open from Wednesday – Sunday, 10.00am – 4.00pm.
Entry for English Heritage members is free, and below is the entrance fee without and with gift aid.
- Adult £8.60 £9.50
- Child (5-17 years) £5.20 £5.80
- Concession £7.70 £8.60
- Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £22.40 £24.80
A disabled access guide is available on site. Unfortunately, there is no wheelchair access to the house, only to the visitor centre, exterior and grounds. Please note: one wheelchair available for hire.
For more information, visit here: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/witley-court-and-gardens/things-to-do/
This article first appeared on www.birminghamupdates.com.
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