Last week I celebrated my birthday and as part of his gift to me Adam bought us National Trust membership. I’d been ogling at some of the properties the Trust owns in the lead-up to our departure from Australia and we recently had a wonderful stay in a National Trust cottage in the Lake District, so I was thoroughly chuffed at the present.
After a scan of the thick book of attractions that was sent to us, we quickly decided to head to a property about a 20 minute drive from Malvern, Croome – which for many years was the home of the Earls of Coventry and more recently the site of a secret World War Two airbase, RAF Defford.
The main house is stunning and I must confess I immediately felt like I’d stepped onto the set of a Downton Abbey episode!
The house had been decorated for December…
Inside were some of the biggest Christmas trees I’ve ever seen. The beautifully wrapped presents underneath have also given me a little inspiration for the 25th.
The National Trust only acquired the property a few years ago, so it’s only fairly sparsely decorated. Instead of full rooms of furniture set out as they would’ve been in say the 1700s, instead there are museum like exhibitions featuring key pieces.
Adam and I particularly loved the dining room where some of Croome’s porcelain was displayed in what’s called the ‘Golden Box’. The lighting and use of mirrors makes you pick up details that you might not have seen in a standard display.
We were lucky enough to be the only people on a tour of the home’s basement, where we learnt about the history of the property and the life of its servants. Our guide Mike also took us over to the house’s ‘Red Wing’, which was the servants quarters. It’s been made weather-proof in recent years, but a full restoration is yet to begin. Despite the chilly air, flaking paint and signs about bat infestations there was still a beauty to the space. It was like the bones of the property were out for all to see.
Lunch was also in the basement – a bowl of delightfully hot leek and potato soup in a tea room run by the National Trust – just what was needed after 3o minutes or so wandering around the Red Wing!
Croome is set on a huge parcel of land, made up of paddocks of grazing sheep and cattle, formal gardens and wide open fields. Although it was foggy for most of the day, we had a lovely time wandering around spotting squirrels and robins and visiting some of the elaborate out-buildings.
It was one of the nicest birthdays I can remember and because it’s the low season and we visited mid-week, it often felt like we had Croome all to ourselves.
I can’t wait to start exploring some of the other properties in the Trust’s portfolio – there are around 350 across the UK. If you’re a fellow NT member, or have visited any of their properties/gardens/natural attractions I’d love your tips and recommendations!