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Exploring the estate at Brockhampton

Carpet of bluebells in the woods at Brockhampton, Herefordshire
In spring discover carpets of bluebells in the woodlands around Brockhampton, Herefordshire | © National Trust/Steve Betts

The moated manor house may be the highlight of the Brockhampton estate, but did you know there’s plenty to see and discover in the wider parkland? The estate at Brockhampton covers 1,700 acres and includes wooded valleys, streams and woodlands, all changing with the seasons.

Spring at Brockhampton

Brockhampton is home to the largest orchards cared for by the National Trust, making it the perfect place to enjoy the spectacular displays of blossom during the spring. The orchards are home to hundreds of fruit trees including damson, apple, pear, plum and quince trees, all of which beautifully contribute to the abundance of fragrance and colour during the spring.

In early April, watch as the Shropshire prune damson trees erupt into blossom, surrounding the medieval manor house in a cloud of delicate white flowers. The orchards here at Brockhampton don’t just please visitors with Instagram-worthy blossom shots and fruit picking but they also create a myriad of habitats and biodiversity too. To enhance this space further, lowland meadow has been planted in and around the orchards, the combination of traditional fruit trees and native wildflowers will encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies in the warmer months.

When to see blossom at Brockhampton

With over 145 acres of orchards across the estate, it can be tough to know exactly when and where you can see the blossoming trees. While we can't pinpoint exactly when the blossom will arrive, here are a few tips on spotting it during your visit:

Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Herefordshire with house in the distance
Spring blossom on the damson trees at Brockhampton, Hererfordshire | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Damson blossom

The orchard surrounding the manor house is almost entirely made up of Shropshire Prune damson trees, creating magnificent displays of cloudlike blossom in spring. Typically blooms between late-March to mid-April.

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Blossom at Brockhampton 2024

Starting from the spring equinox, we will be celebrating the beauty of blossom here at Brockhampton, encouraging our visitors to engage with the orchards and experience the joy that blossom brings in the springtime.

This year, we will be continuing our partnership with Salt Road from 2023, who will be starting a new project as part of our blossom celebrations. Salt Road will be delivering inspiring workshops, activities, and artworks within the orchards - more details about events and activity dates will be coming soon.

With 3km of accessible paths, natural play in the orchard rooms, and hammocks that swing beneath the branches, there is a way for everyone to enjoy the beauty of blossom in the reimagined orchards at Brockhampton.

Things to see in the parkland

The parkland at Brockhampton was converted from farmland into the picturesque landscape style made popular by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Here are some highlights to look out for while you explore the outdoors.

Wander through ancient woodland

Brockhampton boasts an impressive 700 acres of woodland containing over 32 species of trees. Clustered in steep-sided valleys next to the streams, and to the north of the estate, are pockets of semi-natural ancient woodland. To be classed as ‘ancient’ the area must have been continuously wooded since 1600 and some of the wide-bottomed oaks are at least 500 years old.

Whilst walking through the woods, depending on the time of year you may see bluebells, snowdrops, daffodils, primroses and sweet woodruff. Less commonly seen, though still present, are wood spurge and dog’s mercury.

Once trees have died or fallen, we leave the decaying trunks that make great habitats for insects, fungi and lichens.

Relax by Lawn Pool

Records show that Lawn Pool has existed here since around 1769 when Leggett designed the parkland surrounding the mansion. It would have provided the perfect spot for the Barnebys to fish and shoot, and in the 1800s it also had its own boathouse.

Today, Lawn Pool is a wildlife haven where you can enjoy watching carp, frogs and coots. If you’re really lucky you may spot a kingfisher.

Chapel and moat, Brockhampton estate, Herefordshire
Brockhampton Chapel | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Brockhampton chapel

At the top of the estate near the welcome kiosk stands Brockhampton Chapel. This Chapel was was built between the years 1790-1810 as a replacement for the Old Noman Chapel, which is now a ruin situated next to the moated Manor House at Lower Brockhampton.

The present Chapel takes the form of an ‘Early Gothic Revival’ stone church predating any such church in Hereford and London by 20 years, with tower and pinnacles, buttresses with saddleback heads and an embattled parapet. The Chapel is open to visitors from 10am to 5pm, and you are welcome to head in an explore durning your visit.

Traditional orchards at Brockhampton

The estate is home to approximately 145 acres of traditional orchards. Whatever the season, don't miss the impressive elderly fruit trees which engulf the medieval manor house and beyond.

Surrounding the house is an orchard full of Shropshire prune damson trees which erupt into cloud-like blossom around early April, followed by laden boughs of sweet fruit by late summer.

Head through the gate and the damson trees begin to intermingle with apples, many local heritage varieties grow here such as the Onibury Pippin and Worcester Pearmain.

The 14th-century timber-framed house at Brockhampton in winter
The 14th-century timber-framed house at Brockhampton, Herefordshire | © James Dobson

Other fruit on the estate include cherries, pears and the not-so-common medlar fruit which dates back to the Roman times. You have to wait for this fruit to ‘blett’ or rot, before it is sweet and soft enough to eat.

As the weather turns cooler, resident farmer James Hawkins grazes his Hebrides sheep here to help manage the orchards organically.

Reimagining the orchards

Archaeological investigations in 2015 confirmed knowledge that a large orchard, spanning over 21 acres once stood in the grazing fields behind the manor house.

In 2019, we began reinstating these lost Victorian orchards but with a modern twist. Bristol-based artist, Walter Jack, was commissioned to help create an orchard with the enjoyment of visitors at the heart of its design.

Working alongside landscape architects, Rathbourne Partnership, Walter developed a concept of the orchards which will span across three fields.

Planting modern orchards

The first of the orchards was planted in winter 2019 and can now be explored by visitors. This orchard features five ‘circular rooms’ surrounded by lowland meadow.

An aerial view of the apple core orchard, with it's 5 circular areas that over lap in the centre. The path ways wind through and around the circles, leading out into the rest of the reimagined orchards.
An aerial view of Brockhampton's apple core orchard | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Each ‘room’ features unusual and rare varieties of fruit, specially chosen to tell the story of the history of the eating apple, from its origins in Kazakhstan to the traditional Herefordshire cider apple.

The story of the apple will also be told through different means of interpretation and art, the first installation being the 'Hereford Bull' trow (type of cargo boat) which can be discovered in the new orchards. After exploring the trow, follow the accessible paths along the orchard play trail, spot the orchard wildlife sculptures and find out more about the importance of these priority habitats.

Not only are orchards significant to Herefordshire’s past, but they also create wonderful habitats which is why the National Trust is working hard towards preserving and maintaining the orchards at special places in Herefordshire.

A parent carrying a small child around the garden at Brockhampton and another child walking behind, with the manor house and moat in the background

Discover more at Brockhampton

Find out when Brockhampton is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Uncover 600 years of history inside this timber framed manor house and learn how it evolved to meet the different needs of different generations who lived there.

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At the heart of the estate lies Lower Brockhampton Manor house, a late 14th century timber-framed house, surrounded by a moat and entered via a timber-framed gatehouse.

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Eating and Shopping at Brockhampton 

Find out the places you can rest and refuel or treat yourself to a pre-loved book to take home at Brockhampton. From classic favourites in the café to pre-loved stories in the second-hand bookshop, every penny spent in the café or shop helps us to look after Brockhampton for future generations.

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Walks at Brockhampton PDF 

Click here for a PDF version of the Croft Castle walks map. All walks and trail routes can be found in the 'Things to see and do' section of our website.