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History

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Spetchley Park Gardens, Spetchley, Worcester, WR5 1RS

Email: enquiries@spetchleygardens.co.uk

Tel: 01905 345106

©2017 Spetchley Park Gardens | Spetchley Gardens Charitable Trust - charity no. 1061063

Website design by Brighterside

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Stories

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Spetchley was bought by Rowland Berkeley

Rowland Berkeley was a wool merchant and banker, in 1605. Prior to this it had been owned by the Sheldon and Lyttleton families.

His son, Robert, was a High Court Judge in the reign of Charles 1 and a monarchist, who was lucky not to lose his head through his sympathies to Charles, however he did lose his house which was burnt down by Scottish Presbyterians on the eve of the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

He converted the stables where the family lived until John Tasker built the current, beautiful mansion house in 1811. Robert was also responsible for enlarging the estate which today amounts to 4,500 acres.

The parkland, containing red and fallow deer, was imparked in 1625 and the lake was formed in 1834 from the old moat which surrounded Rowland's original Tudor house.

Successive members of the family lovingly created the landscape and the Gardens, the latter most notably by Ellen Willmott, sister to Rose Berkeley, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1925 Spetchley became one of the first gardens in the country to open its gates to visitors under the National Garden Scheme.

In 2013 we embarked on the Spetchley Revival Project, designed to protect and rejuvenate the heritage of the garden. The initial stage involved the building of a new Car Park and Welcome Centre thanks to a grant from the RDPE. 

We have also been very fortunate in obtaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate the garden lake, convert the cart sheds into a Heritage Learning and Interpretation Centre where visitors can learn about the history of the garden, family and landscape and to conserve the 19th century Sovereign Coach which will displayed within the Interpretation Centre. This is phase two of the project which will be completed mid-summer 2016.

The house, landscape and Gardens are now very much a legacy of one family's commitment to ensuring nature, beauty and longevity thrive at Spetchley.

Spetchley has been lucky to witness many wonderful periods in history.

As we have mentioned it was burnt to the ground on the eve of the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Many would say this was a blessing as it allowed for the wonderful mansion you see today to be built.

Robert Berkeley started up a professional relationship with John Evelyn, the diarist and landscaper who helped him design the beautiful landscape that surrounds the garden.

Edward Elgar was a friend of the family, often staying and enjoying some fishing in the garden lake. He was so inspired by the garden that he penned part of his masterpiece, the Dream of Gerontius, whilst staying here.

Ellen Willmott, the renowned horticulturalist and plants woman, was instrumental in helping her sister, Rose Berkeley, design and plant the garden and so, heavily influencing the existing planting structures. She was the first lady recipient of the RHS's Victorian Medal of Honour.

Spetchley was earmarked as the headquarters for Churchill and his war cabinet during WWII however he decided to stay in London and so it became a recuperation home for the 9th USAAF.

On Churchill's death 12 acorns that he had collected from his favourite oak at Blenheim were distributed to places that had a connection with Churchill. One came to Spetchley and the oak is growing on the Long Walk opposite the Cedar.