Working together to bring history at Croome to life
Malvern Family History Society (MFHS) and the National Trust who own Croome have been meeting together regularly investigating ways we can use our collective skills. Together we are delving into the history of the estate and its archives and assisting with research with projects which is illuminating and bringing to life the past history of this wonderful landmark and the people who worked and lived there.
Croome’s rich history
Croome Court, the former home of the Earls of Coventry, is at the heart of the park. The house as you see it today was the vision of the rich and handsome 6th Earl of Coventry who inherited the estate at 28 in the mid 18th century. He set about commissioning many emerging new craftsmen and designers, including Capability Brown, to create his traditional house and gardens into a landscape to remember.
Croome was Capability Brown’s first major landscape design. He also worked on some of the architectural designs for the house.
A chequered history in the 20th century
By 1948, however, the Earls of Coventry had run out of time and money and with the onslaught of the second world war and the tragic loss of the 10th Earl in battle, it was resolved that Croome Court, the park and the estate had to be sold. The house was sold to be turned into a school run by nuns for disadvantaged school boys. Subsequently it had many owners including Hare Krishna devotees for four years from 1979 and then into the hands of various property developers. Nothing was sustainable and successful however and by the 1990s, The National Trust managed to acquire the park and start its restoration thanks to Heritage Lottery funding, but the house was still at risk. It wasn’t until 2007 the National Trust secured the care of the main house, and much later in 2012 the red brick service wing which was in complete ruin. Croome Court with its wonderful interiors and beautiful park were needing some serious attention. The park was lost beneath undergrowth and the house was falling apart.
Renovation by the National Trust
The renovation to the exterior of the Red Wing has now been completed thanks to funding from English Heritage. The house is the focus now for the next two years and after successfully raising millions of pounds in donations and grants, and a £1.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, means they can repair and reservice the house so it will be safe, secure and usable while it is still open. That’s not all they’re doing, however. They want Croome Court to be a completely different experience altogether and create innovative ways of telling Croome’s stories, under the title of Croome Redefined.
You can also step into what remains of a secret wartime air base, now the Visitor Centre, where thousands of people lived and worked in the 1940s.
Malvern Family History Society involvement
MFHS began this exciting new adventure with a visit to Croome in March 2015 with the members given a guided tour of the Court and brought up to date with the incredible restoration work that is being carried there at present. Now work is starting on deciding which of the National Trust’s projects at Croome we can help with and how we can be involved. We will keep you up to date on progress.
Have you any ancestors who worked at Croome?
We are keen to hear from people who have family connections with Croome and bringing the stories of the estate workers to life is part of the proposed project. If you have anything you can contribute, please get in touch with us.