The Hare Krishna movement at Croome
By 1979 many more people were joining the Hare Khrishna movement. As a result, their existing premises at Bhaktiveclanta Manor near Watford, bought for them by Beatles’ guitarist George Harrison, became too crowded.
Croome Court, including a chapel, a stable and two walled gardens, was found, bought and quickly became the British headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and was renamed Chaitanya College after the 16th century Hindu saint.
ISKCON member Sri Pati Das had looked a number of stately homes as possible locations. When he came to Croome he watched a group of swans, seen as a bird of good omen, fly down and land on the river and he knew that Croome was the right house.
The chapel was soon turned into a temple room, a printing press was moved to the site and a novice training programme and a school were established. In Croome Court’s Red Wing, the devotees installed a television editing studio, with sand bags in the ceiling to provide soundproofing.
There was a primary school for the children of the devotees and Croome became a worldwide centre for the training of students in Krishna consiousness.
About 150 devotees lived on the premises at Croome including monks, nuns and some married couples.
From 1982, a split in the movement and consequent lack of manpower meant that the college was becoming too expensive to maintain and, in June 1984, the movement withdrew from the property.
With the closure of their school, some operations were moved to other parts of the country with some families returning to the previous headquarters near Watford.
Traces of their residence at Croome can still be seen in some decoration around the house, especially in the Dining Room. It was repainted in vibrant colours which can still be seen today and are complimented by our new exhibit showing some of Croome's porcelain collection.
ISKCON continues to have links with Croome