On the trail of Capability

Inspired by accounts in the NWR magazine of other groups’ travels, eight members of Woolton Hill Group organised an away break to Gloucestershire.

First stop was Tewkesbury and its magnificent abbey which many of us recalled from pictures of the floods a couple of years ago when it stood marooned in splendid isolation surrounded by the treacherous waters. The building was full of interest ranging from ancient stone carving to modern stained glass with beautiful stone-work and vaulting shown to best advantage by skilful illumination, plus a statue of St Dunstan the patron saint of bell-ringers – of particular interest to two of the group who are keen handbell ringers.


After a welcome lunch in the cathedral cafeteria and a walking tour of the river bank and the main street, admiring the historic architecture and characteristic black and white timbered buildings, we decided to check into our accommodation. Road works, closures and diversions made this quite an adventure and gave us an unscheduled opportunity to become acquainted with the local countryside. Destination was eventually reached however and provided an opportunity to enjoy a convivial swim before we all met for a lively and most enjoyable dinner.

Day 2 saw us heading for Croome Park created by Capability Brown, whose life and work had been the topic of a recent meeting, in the context of his 300th anniversary in 2016. A walk round the park took in a stop at the Orangery which was housing an exhibition of embroidery celebrating Brown’s achievements. Next we enjoyed a tour of the house, designed by Capability Brown in conjunction with Robert Adam for the 6th Earl of Coventry. The house changed hands several times after being requisitioned by the Ministry of Works during the Second World War as a possible refuge for the Queen of the Netherlands. Now managed by the National Trust, it is currently being renovated after having been stripped of most of its contents – very much a work in progress.

Two more attractions beckoned that afternoon in glorious sunshine, a silk mill with an excellent tea room, and a pottery where we browsed at leisure before returning to base where one of our members was able to re-visit the venue of her daughter’s wedding some 18 years previously.

“Plans are already afoot for the next adventure!”

On the last day we headed up to Broadway Tower, another Capability Brown design and the second highest point of the Cotswolds, from where it is claimed you can see 16 counties though because of the haze we weren’t able to identify too many landmarks.  The Tower also houses an extensive exhibition of the life and work of William Morris who spent time there.  After the customary cup of coffee the party split up with one car having to go straight home while the other stopped to visit Snowshill Manor, a treasure trove of items collected over the lifetime of the owner Charles Wade.

The whole experience had been enormously successful with so much seen and enjoyed and an excellent atmosphere throughout. Plans are already afoot for the next adventure!

LO Woolton Hill Group