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Looking after Berrington Hall

Seat under a quince tree in the Walled Garden in May at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire.
Seat under a quince tree in the Walled Garden in May at Berrington Hall | © National Trust Images/David Sellman

Essential improvement works are taking place at Berrington over the next few years. Discover more about our work, how you can get involved and how it might affect your visit.

Stonework Restoration

Thanks to funds raised by our supporters, we’ve been able to begin vital restoration work to some elevations of the courtyard buildings. The work will largely involve removing shaling faces of stone which have been degrading and weathering over many years. The masonry blocks behind the outer layer remain sound.

The shaling faces will be restored on a stone-by-stone basis and any loose stone will be removed. The remaining face of the stone will be ‘dressed’ to a level surface. Where we need to replace stones, Hollington stone will be used, which will weather-in most effectively. This vital project will improve the visual appearance of the courtyard buildings, ensure the safety of the stone faces and mean that Berrington is conserved for generations to come.

When is the work happening?

The work is happening in two phases; the first was a ‘shaling’ phase which involved a tower scaffold to access upper parts of the courtyard buildings. This took place during September and October 2020. The second phase is a specialist, finishing stage undertaken by local stone masons which involves some scaffolding. This work is ongoing.

During this phase of the renovation, please note that there may be some disruption around the Stables Café area. Access to the cafe and welcome centre will be via the courtyard, and there may be some noise and dust. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding as we work to preserve Berrington Hall for future generations.

Historical significance

Berrington Hall was saved for the nation in 1957 because it’s one of the few masterpieces of the famous architect Henry Holland to survive intact. Characterised by Classical forms, symmetry and strict proportion, the exteriors of Palladian buildings were often austere and Berrington is no different. The red sandstone exterior belies the delicacy of the neo-classical interiors; the almost complete survival of Holland’s internal scheme makes Berrington of international significance.

The architecture of the mansion is compactly and intricately planned - particularly the three detached courtyard buildings which were originally service wings. These are arranged around a formal court on to which some of the principal rooms face. Originally these wings would have housed the kitchen, laundries and servants’ hall. These are the areas that will have stonework restored as part of this project.

The historical significance of Berrington means this project is vital to ensure we continue to look after and preserve this special place for generations to come.

Thanks to Westminster Stone for their support and contribution to this project.

View of the East front of the house seen from the courtyard at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
View of the East front of the house seen from the courtyard at Berrington Hall | © National Trust Images/Rupert Truman

Biomass boiler

Here at Berrington Hall we are aiming to reduce our carbon footprint to achieve net zero by 2030. One way in which we will achieve this is by installing biomass heating system to Berrington Hall and outbuildings, which will potentially reduce carbon emissions by 85 tonnes per year.

This project began in April 2022 with the installation of a building to house the new boiler, along with a gardener’s workshop, bin compound, and farm storage unit. We are pleased to say that not only will the biomass be fuelled by woodchips taken from our places in Herefordshire, but that building itself is also clad in wood from National Trust Herefordshire estates.

As of April 2023, the biomass boiler has been connected to the wet system and has been providing heat to the ground floor of the mansion. We will soon begin replacing more electrical radiators with new radiators that can be connected to the biomass system. This is a very large project and will take several years to deliver.

Although there will be a short-term disruption, the benefits of the biomass heating system will be enjoyed for many years to come. These benefits include:

  • Once complete Berrington’s Biomass should generate 386,851kWh of low-carbon heat.
  • We will positively reduce carbon emissions by 85 tonnes per year (the same as would be absorbed by 42,500 trees).
  • We will be able to generate over £11,000 of income per year from the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which will help us extend and install the supporting wet system over a yearly programme.
  • All of the wood fuel we use will be from our woodland management work at our places in Herefordshire, which will also help us replant with mixed native broadleaf species to improve habitat and biodiversity long term.
Woodchip used to fuel biomass boiler
Woodchip used to fuel biomass boiler | © David Levenson

The Garden Project

Berrington Hall is a set piece of 'Capability' Brown design and his final landscape masterpiece. Recent research into the walled garden and pleasure grounds has revealed the rarity and significance of this garden treasure and we’re working to conserve and reimagine it.

The unique curve

An important part of the garden is the curved walled garden, or the ‘Curve’ as has become known, built in 1783 to Brown’s original design. It's the only one of its kind to survive the centuries and research is under way to figure out what it was used for. Resarch has combined the findings from the 2017 Wessex Archaeology Report and the James Crummer papers from the Hergest Croft Archive. Together, this information is offering an insight to how 'Capability' Brown intended Berrington to look.

It is believed that the garden may have been used for growing exotic fruits like pineapples in forcing pits, a far cry from the 20th-century farm buildings it was used for by tenant farmers. When Berrington came into the care of the National Trust in May 2019, we decided it was time for the livestock to find a new home.

Since then, urgent conservation work in the curved garden has been carried out thanks to the Department for Culture Media and Sport Culture Recovery Fund. This has involved removing the old farm buildings and lean-tos which were causing damage to the original walls and carrying out urgent repairs to the walls themselves.

Community participation at Berrington

The Berrington garden project was used as an opportunity to engage with community, with several partnerships with local groups starting up.

One partnership is between Berrington and SHYPP (Supported Housing for Young People project). SHYPP is an award-winning project that helps young people get through tough periods and make a positive transition into an independent thriving lifestyle.

Two partnerships with Hereford College of Arts and Westfield School allowed students to come and engage with the space in a way that was relevant and meaningful to them.

Find out more about the developments happening within the 'Curve'.

Find out about how the garden project has progressed over time


Reopening The Curve

Berrington Hall welcomes back renowned artist Ivan Morison of Studio Morison to develop new ideas for the Curve garden project. Working with local groups, the newly renovated Carpenter's Workshop is being used as an artist's studio, with workshops and exhibitions to inspire future experiences.

The Carpenter's Workshop is restored

The restoration of the Carpenter's Workshop has provided an opportunity for artists to explore new possibilities for the Curve. Artist in residence and community groups are currently utilizing the space to develop ideas for the future of the Curve.

Working with partners

Two partnerships have been formed to further explore the potential of the Curve. Hereford College of Arts students have created an exhibition that draws inspiration from both Berrington Hall's history and the Curve. The exhibition is available to view from 30 April until 29 May. The other partnership is with Sidney Nolan Trust, with their Cultivate programme. It will allow young artists to develop their skills and explore new possibilities for the Curve through photography, illustration, film, and sound.

Gardener tending to a tree at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
Gardener tending to a tree at Berrington Hall | © National Trust Images/Eleanor Dobson

Pool restoration

Thanks to funding awarded from National Highways under the Environment and Wellbeing Designated fund, we have undertaken vital restoration work to the pool at Berrington.

The pool was designed by ‘Capability’ Brown and, along with the parkland and garden, was his final complete estate before his death in 1783. The pool is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the large heronry which nests on the island every year.

Why was the pool restored?

The pool was in urgent need of restoration; the biodiversity of the pool had been adversely affected over the years due to the spread of reed cover and increase in the silt bed. Large carp were the dominant fish species, and predated on smaller fish which are a key food source for herons. Heron numbers had sadly declined over the last 10 years. It was therefore vital that we intervened to ensure the survival of the SSSI and the heronry.

Therefore, we aimed to:

  • Enhance the biological integrity of the pool, including the SSSI, and improve habitat for the heronry.
  • Reduce tree cover around the pool to provide more open water conditions and enhance aquatic diversity.
  • Restore pool and improve water quality through silt control and aquatic plant management.
  • Restore historic views across landscape.

What restoration work took place?

Restoration work began in November 2021, when the fish were removed from the pool. Native species of fish were kept in holding tanks to be returned to the pool and carp were rehomed. The pool was then drained of water and desilted over the course of several months. This involved four diggers which silt from the bed of the pool to an area of Moreton Ride. A channel was also created around the island to allow water to circulate. Vegetation stopping the circulation of water was removed. Trees in Moreton Ride which were causing debris to accumulate in the pool were thinned.

The pool was then slowly refilled with rainwater. When the level was sufficient, native species of fish were reintroduced to the pool. These species include rudd, common roach, European perch and northern pike, all of which are a brilliant source of food for herons and other waterfowl.

What did we discover during the restoration?

The pool restoration project was a fantastic opportunity to understand what wildlife relies on the pool. During the project, ecologists Will Watson and Giles King-Salter, undertook a survey of the wildlife present in the pool. They were able to identify 35 different types of invertebrates. One of the most exciting invertebrates found in the pool was swan mussels. These mussels rarely grow bigger than 180mm, however the largest rescued from Berrington’s pool was 203mm! There are two of shells of swan mussels on display in the mansion at present, giving a sense of just how large they grew in Berrington’s Pool.

Also identified were 38 species of bird, including the great white egret, water rail, green sandpiper and kingfisher.

The footprints of an otter were also discovered whilst work was undertaken, suggesting that they also use the pool to source food.

What next?

We hope that over time the biological integrity of the pool will increase.

It will take some time for the pool to return to its full depth and for the mud caused by heavy machinery to settle down. We will continue controlling the tree cover and vegetation in and around the pool. Water samples from the pool will be tested regularly to identify whether the water quality has improved. The numbers of birds, and especially herons, will also be monitored and should provide an indication of whether the restoration was successful.

Where silt has been deposited from the pool in Moreton Ride, we are going to work with ecologists to turn this into new habitats and further increase the biodiversity of Berrington’s parkland.

For more information, please email us:

Distant view of the house from across the lake at Berrington Hall, Herefordshire
Distant view of the house from across the lake at Berrington Hall | © National Trust Images/Eleanor Dobson

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