Explore Brown’s final landscape
Berrington was Brown’s last landscape design and suggests strong influences of ‘Picturesque’ thinking, which was to radically alter park and garden design in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At Berrington you can see his subtle response to the form of the natural landscape, as well as the inclusion of the wider agricultural landscape in the experience of the parkland design. Follow the circular route or short cut along optional routes and take in the views along the way.
Berrington visitor reception SO51109 63702
From visitor reception follow the main drive around to the front of the house. From here, your view is south over the original ha-ha to the lake and the wider landscape beyond. The 14 acre lake was built by Brown to appear as a 'winding river'. The large Oak to the right of the lake pre-dates the park design at around seventeenth century.
Now look across the A49 main road to the wooded ridge. This is a ridge of limestone which harbours the old red sandstone, the underlying stone Berrington is built upon. The conifers you see will be gradually removed as part of our ongoing restoration plan. Looking towards the lake and slightly to your right, the circular woodland just in front of you, is similarly of later nineteenth century origin, replanted in the mid twentieth century. This hugely obstructs the proper functioning of the landscape design, particularly the views beyond into the wider landscape. As part of the restoration of Brown’s design for Berrington, this area of woodland will be gradually thinned to restore views creating new pathways.
Turn right and follow the path to the old boundary of the pleasure grounds. To your right you can look back towards the Courtyard at the back of the mansion and you are now on the North side of the buildings. Slightly ahead of you, you will see a fenced off paddock with large Beech trees growing. This marks the site of the former Georgian stable-block (burnt down in the nineteenth century). Further to the right of this is a curved brick wall which survives from the egg-shaped kitchen garden originally built here by Brown, as shown on early plans of the site.
Follow the path as it turns left across 2 fields and heads towards the woods. You will pass markers 4,5 and 6. At each of these points the views are disrupted in front and behind you by the newer conifer plantations. At marker 7 you may proceed further and enter the woods or turn left and cross the pastures back towards the house.
This thin strip of woodland, planted with Oak (including Sessile Oak), Sweet Chestnut, Beech and Hornbeam, marks the western boundary of the park. In part, it follows the line of the old road from Stockton to Moreton. ‘Moreton Ride’ would have allowed views to the west towards nearby Croft Ambrey and the Brecon Beacons in Wales beyond, across enclosed agricultural lands. The former ride still exists, today as a farm access track.
Follow the markers down the track, eventually turning left to cross the woods then right as you re-emerge into the pasture. From here stop and look back towards the house. The eye is led across the parkland with the north side of the lake framing the right hand side of the view. The view to your left which continues across the road, ends at the wooded ridge ‘Long Wood’. From this point you can return across the fields towards the mansion or carry on around the lake
Upon reaching the lake fork right through the gate and follow the path which is actually along the top of the dam which helped form the lake. Half way along stop and consider the fine view across the main body of the lake towards the house, framed to the right by the large island and to the left by woodland at the eastern boundary of the lake itself. You will see for yourself, which trees could be ‘imposters’ on Brown’s original design.
At the far end of the lake you will reach the boat house. Thought to date from the third quarter of the nineteenth century the boat house may also have been rebuilt since that time. Extreme growth of reeds, bulrushes, Alder and Willow feature in this part of the lake, and will be removed as part of the restoration plan.
Turn left after the boat house and follow the perimeter of the lake back towards the mansion. Here is another carefully-constructed view of the house looking along the full length of the lake, framed to the left (west) side by trees on the large island and by the large pollarded Oak to the right (east) side. There is also an extensive view of parkland areas to the east but much of this view is now blocked by the growth of trees along the east side of the lake and by reeds, bulrushes, Willow and Alder growing in the water itself, but will gradually be revealed as these are removed.
Once you have passed through the gate at the far end of the lake, you can either carry straight on across the field back towards the house or continue to the right walking to the South lodge. This dates to the early twentieth century, and the drive it originally sat on was thought to be the arrival road for ‘guests from London’. The modern tarmac road, you see now was resurfaced for practical reasons and is the entrance for today’s visitors.
Join the drive and walk to the Triumphal Arch. Although based on Classical models, the Triumphal Arch is highly simplified, almost severe in its lack of ornamentation, apart from a string course at mid-height which supports the upper arch detailing, and a section of balustrading in the parapet over the central archway itself. Unusually though, once you are inside the gardens, it does seem to feature as a significant element in the landscape design and becomes clearly visible only from nearby.
You may then proceed along the route of visitor traffic taking care as you go until you see the metal barn on your left. You have almost walked full circle as beyond this, is the fenced paddock area from point 3, which marks the site of the former stable-block. The land to your right here is the first of one of the two Second World War military camps at Berrington. A number of concrete ‘pads’ survive in the parkland here from the former wooden huts.
A short distance further down the road turn right across the pasture into the northern corner of this part of the park. Immediately adjacent to the north approach, was formerly an orchard, which appears to date to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. A little way up the hill, a distinct linear bank and level area marks the line of the original lane which Brown had moved. Cross the line of the old road and a levelled area is visible on the high point. This has been identified as the site of a former windmill. This levelled area has some of the best views available of the park at Berrington and the wider landscape surrounding it.
Move up the hill to see a large block of woodland just beyond the present park boundary. Here is the second site of one of the two Second World War military camps at Berrington. Its outline however is shown on a mid eighteenth century plan of Herefordshire, and it has been suggested to be a possible Roman ‘marching camp’. Return via the Triumphal Arch and visitor reception.
Visitor Reception SO51109 63702
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