Repairing our carriage splash

Croome Katherine Alker with repaired carriage splash

In the 18th century the 6th Earl of Coventry would have transported his guests around Croome’s park in a horse drawn carriage taking a scenic route from the woodland across the river towards Park Seat with panoramic views of the parkland.

At the southern end of the ‘river’ they would have needed to cross the river at the carriage splash, which is a feature similar to a ford, creating a bit of excitement as the water splashed around them as they travelled across it.

The carriage splash before repairs
Croome carriage splash before repairs

The Croome ‘river’

The river at Croome is not a natural river; it was dug out by hand in the 1750s and 1760s to create a water feature as part of ‘Capability’ Brown’s grand design for the landscape and is almost a mile and a half long.  As there is no natural spring or stream to keep the river topped up, many underground drains were built to carry the water into the river from miles around and also to help drain the parkland which at one time had been extremely boggy.

In order to keep the water in the river and to maintain a certain depth, a weir was built at the very end of the water feature.  In periods of very wet weather it is normal for the water to over-top the weir.  The overflow runs into the ditch, heads south to meet the brook across Dunstall Common, heads to Baughton and then eventually joins the River Severn.

“It’s wonderful to see this important piece of the carriageway circuit repaired, the route across the carriage splash links South Park with West Field and is a lovely walk to take in the parkland.” said Katherine Alker, Croome’s Garden and Outdoors Manager.  

Essential repair work required

A recent survey of the carriage splash showed that it was in desperate need of essential repair works as it had become damaged from water gouging a section of it out and a consequence the lake and ‘river’ were draining to very low levels.

Prior to repair work starting South Worcestershire Archaeology Group surveyed the site and provided important information on the structure of the carriage splash.  

The repair works started in August 2017 and were undertaken by Birch Brothers of Stourport.

The carriage splash under repair
Croome carriage splash under repair

Approximately 20 tonnes of blue lias stone, the same stone that would be been used in the original structure, was laid.   The new stone has been laid covering the 10 metre long carriage splash to create a long lasting surface.  The crazy paving style surface can be clearly seen as water levels are extremely low at the moment.  

However, it’s expected that water levels will begin to rise over the coming months and it’s hoped that it will be covered by a shallow layer of water as it would have been when horse drawn carriages used to travel over it many years ago.