The walling team at Croome

With over four miles of stone wall to look after, Croome is fortunate to have an active volunteer walling team.

How did it start?

Volunteer, Pete Callaghan, who had previously worked in industry and latterly as a physics and maths teacher, spent most of his working life ‘working in a box’ as he put it, was determined when he retired to find something to do outdoors. 

On retirement he learned the skills of stone walling and hedge laying and it was the latter that brought him to Croome in 2012.  Whilst involved in this work Pete became aware of the condition of some of the walls and approached Katherine Alker, Croome’s Garden and Park Manager, with an offer of helping to repair them. 

The first walling team at Croome
Walling team photo four members

Walling work commences

As work got underway Pete was joined by three other volunteers Pam and Richard Southerden and Martin Wright.  The team spent a year working on the boundary wall, successfully rebuilding the walls and installing new gate posts ready for the gate to be hung.  

Boundary wall before repairs start
Boundary wall in a state of disrepair
Wall repaired waiting for the gate
photo of completed boundary wall repair

The materials

The walls at Croome are built of Blue Lias limestone which probably came from nearby Bredon Hill and would have been transported by carriage directly to Croome.  Blue Lias is a sedimentary stone and was formed around 200 million years ago.  Fossilised ferns and molluscs are often found in the stone.

Fossils found in the blue lias stone
Blue lias stone with fossils embeded

The original stone walls at Croome were faced on both sides with the Blue Lias but infilled with rubble.  Whilst this method is quick and cheaper it is not as long lasting as a ‘through stone’ or ‘tie-stone’ walling.  It causes water to infiltrate the wall and, due to the expansion and contraction of the freezing process, the wall will move and eventually collapse. It was therefore decided to remove the rubble and build Croome’s walls by the ‘through stone’ process. 

Hear from Katherine Alker, Croome's Garden and Park Manager

The stones are laid as two abutting walls.  They are interlocked like a 3D jigsaw puzzle with stones in one layer in different directions to the lower layer and gaps in the lower layer covered by a stone in the upper layer.  Every few metres there will be a through stone that spans the whole width of the wall. 

Shelter Belt wall before repair
A section of wall before repair

The team continues to grow

The volunteer walling team at Croome now boasts five regular members; Martin Wright had joined Pete during the restoration of the Croome boundary wall, Peter Young joined in 2015 and in 2016 Jon Martin and Alan Gath joined the team. 

The current walling gang at Croome
photo of five members of walling gang

The future of walling at Croome

The boundary walls of Croome have been repaired in a number of places, primarily behind the Park Seat, along the Shelter Belt and more recently along Rebecca Road which leads to the London Arch entrance to Croome.

The work along Rebecca Road will continue for the next couple of years thanks to a very generous gift from a volunteer and a substantial donation from the Friends of Croome which has enabled us to purchase 60 tonnes of stone.  This will see us well into our current five year plan of repairs to the boundary walls.

Like to chat to the stone wallers?

Discover more about the important conservation work taking place in the parkland.  Our stone walling team volunteer most Fridays - come and chat to them to find out more about this ancient craft.

See more images of the work that the stone walling team do