Part 2: Cubs Moor to Dunstall Castle

On second thoughts, we’re not going to meet the three day challenge at this rate. I think Mrs D. will have to leave her car somewhere near Pirton so she can drive back to Croome and take in Cubs Moor, where the Panorama is, on the way. We’ll make that Point 6, and ask the obvious question – why did the ubiquitous Capability Brown bother to extend the parkland so far from the house? Did he just want to bring as many different kinds of countryside into the parkland as he could? Cubs Moor does offer high ground with particularly fine views of the Malverns. The panorama itself hadn’t been built, but I think there was a shepherd’s house. Myself, I’d like to think it was used by a keeper and that this was a park intended for rough shooting.

Point 7, and we’re nearly back onto the National Trust land, but I think there has to be a stop at the Pepper Pot Lodges, because there we have the lovely sketch made in Brown’s day which shows the ‘pre-emptive peep’, a glimpse through the trees to Brown’s church.  Very rare, and an idea that Repton was to take up in a big way, but why Brown – was this his idea? – Repton knew Croome but did he really work there?

Let’s assume that Mrs D. could get through that lot on day 1, perhaps she could bring a bicycle with her; then day 2 would begin with the Portico on the south front of the house, known as the Pavilion (Point 8). I think the deer used to come up to the house on this side, and here the family would sit on hot days, and no doubt throw them tit-bits. But we should ask what Brown wanted you to see from here? Dunstall Castle? Baughton Hill? Did it matter how much of the land Lord Coventry owned? Mysteries in space.

Then stroll across the park to the ‘beach’ section of the New River (Point 9) – i.e. the place where the lake bank did not have a vertical edge but was stoned to allow animals to walk down to the water. Brown was not only using water as a drain, but also as a field boundary, and on top of that he was controlling where the animals went to drink so as to bring them into his compositions at the best possible moment. Worth also pointing out the different kinds of water that he made at Croome, this apparently primitive zig-zag of river landscape, the stream that cuts across the foreground of the North Point view, and the lakes themselves (in the Pleasure Ground and at Pirton).

Then Mrs D. should go south to Dunstall Castle, via the Rotunda (Point 10) and the next disturbing event, as the huge underlying geometry of the design begins to make itself known – because it’s obvious from here that Brown went to the trouble of rebuilding the east wall of the walled garden to align with the Rotunda. Then there’s another interesting point, that when you stand in the middle of the floor none of follies that were there in Brown’s day are visible. So when you look for the Rotunda from the other follies, you’ll see something like a stone gasometer – not a window in sight.

Then we should stop at the drive along the high ground (Point 11), since it’s the one piece of the landscape for which we have Brown’s explicit instruction – that he wanted to cast down the ridge, the old headland at the top of the ridge and furrow. A chance then for Mrs D. to explore Brown’s use and reuse of ridge and furrow in landscape, a chance too to ask why it was so important to him to take Defford Common into the landscape.

Then the Park Seat (point 12) and its place in the geometry, then a look at the way Brown retained ridge and furrow and cut his drive across it (Point 13) – beautiful but strange to look at, he obviously valued ridge and furrow in turf or he would have cast it down – and then at last Dunstall Castle, Dunstall Common and the Red Deer Park (point 14).

Now Mrs D. if we’re going to get you round the landscape in under three days, you’re going to have to have a car waiting there to whisk you back to the house. Frankly, the way things are going we’re not going to make it. Croome is looking too big for any mere three-day jaunt.

Pirton Park and Castle from the riding

Pirton Park and Castle from the riding