Noake's Worcestershire Page 101

THE CROOMES AND PIRTON. 101

hours, situate east of the Severn, near Upton (supra Sabrinam). Let us first take a peep at No. 1, which is distinguished by the splendid park and mansion of the Coventry family. Everybody knows that the founder of this family was a lad from Coventry, who, in the fourteenth century, became Lord Mayor of London, he being then a mercer of the said city. A long line of noblemen at present rests with George William, the ninth Earl, who after a long minority succeeded to the family estates. It was George, the sixth Earl, who, with the aid of Mr. Brown (then known as " Capability Brown "), and by an expenditure of 400,000, brought Croome into its ^present state of perfection. Of the mansion not much need ~be said, it being a somewhat plain structure, but the park and grounds are charming, and it appears that the public spirit of the noble Earl did not exhaust itself upon this, for about 1,400 acres in the vicinity of Croome House were cultivated under his own inspection as a model farm, and it was an observation of Judge Perrot, that his lordship had brought a million of money into Worcestershire by his skilful exertions in making roads through the county. In the beginning of the present century there was in Croome Gardens one of the finest collections of exotics in the kingdom; Mr. Deane, the botanic gardener to the then Earl, publishing an interesting work on the propagation of these plants and the history of the place. Formerly there was a zoological garden, to which the Corporation of Worcester were fond of paying a visit; and there is still a fine arboretum of hardy trees, chiefly of foreign growth.

On a beautiful elevation in the park stands the parish church, built in 1763. The old church stood within a few yards of the house. The present edifice contains nothing remarkable but the gorgeous monuments of the Coventry family.

Croome village is a little retired place, with houses chiefly detached, excellent gardens, and a good inn or two. The parish is about four miles in circumference. Soil, chiefly white clay or marl, but generally well drained, and includes