GREAT WITLEY, WORCESTERSHIRE
One of the great English country houses and a venue for lavish house parties, especially in the Victorian era, Witley Court was destroyed by fire in 1937. Now a spectacular ruin, a sense of the many different eras of the building’s history is evident. Originally a medieval manor house, then a Jacobean mansion, the house was linked with the Foley family, who made their fortune in the iron industry. Between 1772 and 1794 an ornamental woodland known as the wilderness was planted to the northeast, with walks laid out along the banks of the lake and brook. In the early 19th century Thomas Foley VII commissioned John Nash, the leading Regency architect, to design a succession of ambitious alterations including two massive porticos to the north and south fronts. Today there is plenty to enjoy including gardens, elaborate fountains and an adventure play area.
Facilities – at a glance
- Parking onsite
- Wheelchair access only to visitor centre, exterior and grounds due to steep steps inside
- Facilities: Wheelchair loan, disabled parking, portable induction loop (for use with audio tour), tour transcripts, site folders
- Accessible toilets
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open Apr-Sep, check website for details; Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-23 Dec, Jan-18 Feb, Sat-Sun 10-4; 27-31 Dec and 19-25 Feb, daily 10-4; 26 Feb-29 Mar, Wed-Sun 10-4 (last admission 1 hour before site closing). Closed 24-26 Dec
Also in the area
About the area
Worcestershire is a county of rolling hills, save for the flat Vale of Evesham in the east and the prominent spine of the Malverns in the west. Nearly all of the land is worked in some way; arable farming predominates – oilseed rape, cereals and potatoes – but there are concentrated areas of specific land uses, such as market gardening and plum growing.
Worcester is the county town, and home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club, which has what some regard as the most attractive grounds in the country, in a delightful setting with views of Worcester Cathedral. The Malverns, Great and Little, set on the slopes of the Malvern Hills, are renowned for their refinement. Great Malvern, terraced on its hillside site, came to prominence as a genteel spa for well-to-do Victorians, rivalling the likes of Bath, Buxton and Cheltenham with its glorious surroundings.
Sir Edward Elgar was a Worcester man, and his statue stands on the High Street, facing the cathedral. The cottage where he was born is now a museum and he is commemorated on the £20 note. Other notable Worcestershire figures include poet A E Housman, chocolate magnate George Cadbury; and Lea and Perrins, inventors of Worcestershire sauce.
Places to Stay
Restaurants and Pubs
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