A substantial group gather at Spring Hill
MAY WALK – SPRING HILL ESTATE, BLOCKLEY
Having been obliged to postpone the planned walk the previous week because of wet conditions, we were relieved to be met with a fine day for the re-arranged event. And it proved very popular, with around 50 people gathering on a sunny evening. This is one of the estates on which Mike Hartnell advises. Having known it for many years he was well qualified to be our guide.
Whereas our May Walks have often been where the gardens are the main theme, or equal with the treescape, at Spring Hill there is little by way of what may be thought of as garden – Treescape is prominent. You understand this when you know that the layout of the estate goes back as far as one Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown!
Whilst apparently not as substantial as some country estates you are impressed by the length of the entrance drive from the south through the valley known as The Dingles (still further by the one we exited on to the north). Amazingly its extremities reach into four parishes (and two district council areas). The house was reputedly designed by the ubiquitous Brown in the 1760s for the Earl of Coventry. The grounds however were our focus this evening.
A pleasant walk round The Circle (surrounding the house), allowed us to admire the woodland planting, plus the splendid Cedar, which seems to rise out of the centre of the house. Continuing around to the front of the house, we proceeded down the steeply sloping ride to the front to the remaining damned lake section of the “water feature”, a “must have” in almost every Capability Brown design. The folly up on the top horizon was readily visible from the house. To retain this vista the avenue of trees needs periodic felling.
As on any estate, the woodland does not manage itself and Mike explained as we walked the valley, how it is necessary to fell selectively to give young trees a chance, whilst retaining as many mature specimens as possible. Balance is important, whether the woodland is used for leisure or commercial purposes.
We were grateful to the owners for allowing us to “wander at will” around these hidden but impressive grounds.