SURFWORCESTER

 


WITLEY COURT

An English Heritage site

FOR FURTHER DETAILS:
www.english-heritage.org.uk


Probably the most spectacular country house ruin in the UK accompanied by the fantastic 18th century baroque parish church of Great Witley. The house was much changed over the centuries, originally being a large Jacobean house. By the 1750s it was a vast Georgian mansion and the present church was built at that time. The eminent architect, John Nash, designed impressive additions in the early 1800s including magnificent porticos. The court was bought by the prosperous Dudley family in 1837 - a Black Country dynasty whose fortune was made out of the booming heavy industries of coal, iron, and engineering. They transformed the court into a palace of luxury which attracted royalty of the ilk of Edward VII. The tragic death of the wife of the 2nd Earl in 1920 helped provoke the sale of the court. The court was bought by Sir Herbert Smith, a local businessman,
but the glory days had gone and a disastrous fire in 1937 hastened its demise. Although much of the building was untouched by the fire, Smith decided to sell the estate - but it failed to sell as an entity and neglect and deterioration became the undeserved fate of the court. In recent times English Heritage have done much to restore the ruins and surrounding parkland. A visit to this place will sit in your mind forever.
The majestic fountains of Witley Court pictured during Edwardian times. The restoration of the fountains is one of the projects being undertaken by English Heritage.
The magnificent gardens of Witley Court as they would have been seen by Edward VII.

The exterior of Witley Church in the early 1900s. The building was completed in 1735. A private doorway was built that gave the Foleys and the Dudleys easy access from the court to the church. The superb baroque interior is shown on the right.

It is now nearly fully restored with ornate gilded gilded decorations throughout, paintings by Bellucci, ten painted glass windows depicting scenes from the New Testament, a large monument by Rysbrack etc.

The church hosts a superb concert programme