Seven unnatural wonders of the Midlands

Although they may look natural, many of the parks and gardens at places we care for have had more than a little help. These seven places are great examples of the different styles of landscape design.

The old pump house in Fishpool Valley at Croft Castle in Herefordshire

The ‘Picturesque’ at Fishpool Valley – Croft Castle, Herefordshire 

Fishpool Valley was designed in the late 1700s as a ‘Picturesque’ landscape. The stream was dammed and the valley sides were carefully planted to suggest the 'bold roughness of nature'. We're now embarked on a project to return the valley to the way it would have looked when first designed.

'Capability' Brown's designed landscape at Croome in Worcestershire

Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown at Croome, Worcestershire 

Croome was ‘Capability’ Brown’s first large scale commission and is often described as his 'first and most favourite child'. His landscapes look so natural that it is hard to see the hand of the artist at work. Brown’s landscapes were simple, uncluttered and restrained. They include sweeping pasture bordered with tree clumps, perimeter shelter belts and screens of trees.

The fishing pavilion by the lake at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Adam’s landscape at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire 

It is easy to forget that the entire park at Kedleston is man-made, including the lake which was created by damming and excavating the Markeaton Brook which runs through the grounds. Robert Adam, who was later instrumental in the building and interior design of the hall, was initially employed to complete the landscaping of the grounds in the mid-1700s.

A page from Humphry Repton's Red Book of Attingham showing the Mansion and Tern Bridge

Humphry Repton’s design at Attingham Park, Shropshire  

When the 2nd Lord Berwick inherited Attingham in 1797, he hired Repton to enhance the parkland. Repton's aim was to create a natural landscape around the mansion with views of the Shropshire Hills and the Wrekin. The family later went bankrupt, making Attingham one of the most historically important Repton landscapes as it has not been altered by new additions or designers.

Tower of the Winds, Shugborough, Staffordshire

Greek Revival landscape at Shugborough Estate, Staffordshire 

Shugborough’s parkland is dotted with unusual buildings, monuments and follies, including an ornate dairy, a Greek temple and a Chinese house. These are some of the earliest examples of Greek revival and Oriental influenced designs in the country.

A view of the Greek Temple across the lake at Clumber Park

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire  

Carved from Sherwood Forest, Clumber Park is Grade I listed and an important example of a designed landscape. The Park is undergoing a major restoration project to restore historically designed views, the Pleasure Grounds, lake and parkland. Work includes tree thinning, restoration of heathland, planting and protecting the historic Lime Tree Avenue, which at 2 miles long is the longest of its kind in Europe.

Spring blossom with the garden lodge in the background

Lyveden, Northamptonshire 

Lyveden’s design was the dream of one man, Sir Thomas Tresham. It was never to be completed following his death in 1605 and has remained virtually unchanged ever since. The garden stands surrounded by an unfinished moat, without plants, statues or paths; frozen in time, soaked in folklore and mystery.

View of the 18th century bridge and woodland beyond at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire

Caring for historic landscapes in the Midlands 

Many of the places in the care of the National Trust have had their natural beauty enhanced or altered by the hand of designers or owners. We work hard to maintain these special places and preserve their historic appearance.

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