Other people’s gardens – Compton Verney

We had a day out yesterday and went to Compton Verney in Warwickshire. It had been on our radar for a while as a possible place to visit, ever since we’d seen the brown sign off the Fosse Way when we were going to Charlecote. It’s a Capability Brown garden, and the house is now an art gallery so there are various sculptures in the gardens as well.

If you didn’t know it was by Brown you would probably guess fairly quickly!

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The house is surrounded by natural-looking parkland, where previously there had been formal parterre gardens. Brown even removed the medieval church which stood near the house, to open up the view from the house to the lake!

The Upper Bridge across the lake brings you towards the main approach to the house, and is decorated with some very northern European sphinxes:

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Plus a piece of very handy advice:

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Always a sound move.

As you approach the house there is a sculpture called Untitled: Boulder, which as you can see is accurate.

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There’s also a good view across the lake to The Clearing, but even though we eventually walked past it we were none the wiser as to what they were doing there exactly.

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Behind the house is the chapel which Brown designed to replace the medieval church, and to which he had to move a lot of earlier burials and monuments.

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The West Lawn, once filled with formal gardens before Brown swept all of that away, is now a thriving wildflower meadow, filled with clover and thistles, while nearby there are beehives.

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The path then leads you to the Lower Bridge, via the biggest deck chairs I’ve ever seen!

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(Husband for scale.)

The Lower Bridge also carries the main road which is the modern boundary to the parkland so if you prefer not to walk over it on the road there is a little ferry operated by a little man pulling on a rope! One of the unexpected highlights of the day.

By the Lower Bridge you get a good view up to the Upper Bridge, and they’ve got some astilbes doing slightly better than ours.

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After the bridge (or ferry) there’s a path through the woodland wilderness, all geared towards wildlife, with a bird hide and pond dipping platform, and eventually you come back round to the Clearing and the view across the lake to the house.

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From there we went back toward Upper Bridge as our map told us there was the site of the medieval village, in a field now called Old Town Field. This was the site of the Saxon village of Compton but there’s nothing visible – sometimes you can see hollows where roads and tracks ran, or the raised platforms where houses stood, but not this time. It’s another wildflower meadow alive with bees, and with mown paths leading to a sculpture called Drift, a transient structure which is slowly merging with the field. And a good excuse for me to get a bit arty with the camera.

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On our way out we saw the restored thatched ice house, and the willow tunnels, which reminded me of the spiral garden at the Eden Project:

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The house is worth looking round as well; there are varied art collections covering British portraits, northern European paintings of the 15th to 17th centuries and art in Naples from the 17th to the 19th century, as well as some beautiful Chinese bronzes and 19th-20th century British folk art. Well worth a visit.

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