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Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire

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The Brockhampton Estate comprises 1736 acres of typical Herefordshire farmland and woods situated 1 mile East of Bromyard on the A44.

There are two principle houses on the Estate, the larger is mid Georgian and not open to the public, however Lower Brockhampton House is.

Colonel John Talbot Lutley bequeathed the Estate to the National Trust in 1946, and since that time it has been preserved as an example of an English country Estate.

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Both Brockhampton House and the grounds date from the mid 1760s and Bartholomew Barneby who built the house must have pictured in his mind something like this when he instructed his landscape surveyor. The house was designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard, famous as the designer of the iron bridge at Ironbridge who also brought up-to-date the houses of two of Mrs Barneby's brothers: Gaines nearby and The White House at Suckley. Their father, who had died in 1764, had left them well provided for. The cost of Brockhampton House is not known, but an almost identical house which Pritchard built in Shropshire cost £6,630. Brockhampton is not open to the public, but note the ha-ha in the grounds. This excluded grazing animals from the lawns and yet was invisible to the occupants of the house. With no barrier to isolate them from the park and background woodlands, the Squire and his friends were offered the illusion of lawns, wooded pasture and finally woodlands all blending gradually into one continuous landscape.

The Chapel was built about 1799 in the Georgian Gothic style to replace the now ruined 12th century family chapel at Lower Brockhampton. Here are buried members of the Barneby and Lutley families whose memorials and those of their servants can be seen inside.

Worcester Lodge at the end of the drive, dates from circa 1815, it is the only building on the Estate in a pure 'Classical' style. The facade is reminiscent in miniature of St Paul's Church in Covent Garden.

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Cider Production

Many years ago many of the pastures on the Estate were cider orchards. The fruit was brought down the slopes to the presses, remnants of which can still be seen in the park today. The juices were then carted away to produce fine cider, a tradition which is still strong in the county of Herefordshire today.

To the left of the house is the old walled kitchen garden (also now leased as a private residence). This one acre garden was small for a country house which relied on the kitchen garden and farm to feed residents and guests; we must assume that the Barneby family did not entertain lavishly. Nevertheless, this garden had most of the features found on the bigger Estates. There were two large glasshouses for grape vines, one for pineapples and melons, with an old wall cavity heating system, a fruit store, a mushroom shed and an ice house. The Head Gardener, under constant pressure from the kitchen to maintain a continuous supply of out of season crops, would have kept all these buildings in constant use. In the economy of the country house, his job was the most highly skilled and demanding of all.

The National Trust

The Brockhampton Estate is managed by the National Trust by a dedicated team of wardens, foresters and estate workers lead by the Property and Countryside manager for the Estate, Les Rogers. The public assess to many parts of the estate allows our visitors to enjoy some of the wonderful features of the Brockhampton woodlands: majestic oaks that have stood in the valley for over 200 years, ash trees and conifer species which also grow well on the fertile soils of the Estate. The whole area is a haven for all types of wildlife.

Recent Conservation

Visitors to Lower Brockhampton on the Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire in the year 2000 will have witnessed essential work on the picturesque 15th century gatehouse to prevent gravity making it lean any further.

The famous black and white gatehouse - which has graced calendars, cards, biscuit tins and even provided a location for the filming of 'Shadowlands' starring Anthony Hopkins - has been developing a pronounced lean because of decay in the timber joints.

New long-eared residents at the 14th century half-timbered moated farmhouse, have been making their presence known to National Trust staff by leaving their infamous calling card - bat droppings!

But this very special calling card has meant that restoration work to the gatehouse (and to the roof of Lower Brockhampton) had to be delayed until a 'Bat Survey' had been conducted!

Andrew Campbell, Buildings Manager for The National Trust said: "The bats colonised the Grade I listed house because they love feeding on the insects which gather around the moat.

Building work and bats can mix with good planning but only after discussions with English Nature, who make sure that any work is carried out in line with their recommendations. The type of roost can also determine when work can be carried out - if the roost is a hibernation roost, that will restrict winter work and a nursery roost will restrict spring work..

As a conservation charity, it is our job to look after bats - as well as the historic houses they live in, and it’s always useful to include them in our visitor numbers"!

Traditional methods of repair, using existing oak timbers wherever possible have now stabilised the structure in its photogenic state complete with lean.

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