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To refresh on our countryside tour, my sister took us to the Tea Rooms down the hill from St.Michael & All Angels Church at Witley. Before we could appreciate the restored Baroque Church we sat outside and ruins of earlier ambitions, enjoying the buzz of the summer bees in the cottage garden.
It is unusual to find a church like this in England! A fully functioning Parish Church it also is the venue of musical concerts, because the acoustics are as good as the finest buildings in London(I believe them!).
Then take a walk outside to the right, is the shell of Whitley Court which was devastated by a fire in 1937. The early Saxon history of these grounds and the Industrialist families who built up the Estate are another fascinating tale of English class and capitalism.
The House and Gardens are managed separately to the Church. If you want to explore the Manor it is under English Heritage for a fee.
For me, I would love to go back for a live chamber musical experience even if I'm a lowly peasant....Times have changed, and some of them are free.
Updated Mar 19, 2011
Address: Worcester Rd. Great Witley, Worcestershire
In 1923 the Roman Catholic Diocese in Birmingham made a wise decision in purchasing a moated medieval ad Elizabethan manor-house which still have their original wall paintings and the finest series of priests hiding places anywhere in England.
A pleasant drive out from Birmingham, Harvington Hall, Kidderminster was built in the 1580's. When you go inside you can check-in to see if there is a free guide available, or call ahead. It is worth it, because the guide can tell you stories about the House and its people you could spend hours researching.
In 1644 it was pillaged by Roundhead troops, and later bought by a local family, the Throckmortons(don't you love the name!).
It is the story of the times when it was high treason to be a Catholic priest that are fascinating - a real show and tell of where the hidey holes are.
In the Malt House there is an exhibition of how beer was brewed, and you can wander at your leisure around the gardens and chapel.
If you plan ahead you may be able to attend classical music events and festivals.
There is a delightful restaurant with scrumptious fare that I highly reccomend.
Written Mar 13, 2011
Address: half a mile east off A450 B'ham to Worcester Rd.
A very pleasant arboretum just outside the small but picturesque, riverside village of Arley.
There is a cafe on site and some splendid walks among a good collection of trees. The gardens are a little disappointing though if I'm being honest.
Written Sep 25, 2010
Address: Upper Arley, nr Bewdley, Worcestershire
Phone: 01299 861368
Witley Court was once among the finest country homes in the Midlands. Originally a Jacobean manor house, it was modified in the 19th century by John Nash and later by Samuel Daukes. The beautiful gardens were laid out by William Andrews Nesfield.
Tragically, a huge fire in 1937 gutted the house. Only the Great Witley Church was spared. Displays show what the house's interior once looked like. Fortunately, most of the stone walls and fountains are still in relatively good shape, as are the gardens. The church's baroque interior is exquisite, and has been referred to as the "Sistine Chapel of the North." The property is now managed by English Heritage.
Written Jan 19, 2006
Phone: 01299 896636
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