- Witley Court, Worcestershire, is an 18th-century country house near to Great Witley village.
- See Witley Court ruins, still with a splendid exterior, as you are transported back in time to the era of parties and balls.
- Walk around in the Witley Court Gardens, see the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain, and the beautiful flowers blooming.
- Enjoy a picnic on the grounds, or get a hot drink at the tea shop as you enjoy a brilliant day out.
Witley Court, also known as Witley Court and Gardens, is a key part of English heritage in Worcestershire, looked after by English Heritage. Near to Great Witley, it's a great place to visit in the West Midlands. Built in the Italianate architectural style on the site of a former manor house, it's a Grade I listed building, one of the many country houses in ruins in England, but still a stunning visit for any family. If you like places like Warwick Castle or Anker Wood Mazeworld, you're sure to fall in love with Witley Court.
Initially, a Jacobean brick house constructed by the Russell family, the house was sold to Thomas Foley after the Civil War. He erected two towers, and his grandson added the courtyard wings. In 1735, Thomas Foley, 2nd Baron Foley, constructed a parish church in the west of the courtyard, and was given a Baroque interior; Antonio Belluci and Joshua Price decorated it. Eventually, the park was landscaped too, which required Great Witley, the village, to be moved! In 1805, the Ionic porticoes were added to the north and south entrances to give the house some extra grandeur, in addition to a large amount of expansion done by John Nash. John Nash was the era's most successful architect In 1837, the house was sold, and from 1843 to 1847 became the abode of Queen Adelaide, the widow of King William IV, who loaned it. In the 1850s, the house had the Italianate style added to it by Samuel Daukes, and the gardens were landscaped again, though luckily required no village moving. Witley Court had many lavish visitors throughout the history, including the Prince of Wales, King Edward VII who enjoyed a shooting party in 1894. In 1920, Witley Court was purchased by Sir Herbert Smith, a Kidderminster carpet manufacturer. He left lots of the court unused, which resulted in a fire gutting a wing of the house. Enough of the house was left untouched that the insurance company refused to help, so Herbert sold Witley Court, which was broken up into lots. However, it was mostly bought by scrap dealers who removed most of what they could from the house. Luckily, in 1972 the ruins of the house were taken into the care of the government, and then to English Heritage.
When you arrive, one of the first things you'll want to look at is the beautiful ruins of Witley Court House. As you walk up the driveway looking at the beautiful exterior, take yourself back in time to the 19th and 20th centuries. Fashionable society flocked to Witley Court, including future King Edward VII, and garden parties were a favourite resulting in many guests staying the night inside the fantastic walls. Can you spot the charred timbers from the 1937 fire? If you'd like to go even further behind the scenes, there are brilliant audio tours to enjoy. The Foley and Dudley families' stories are presented as you re-live their glamorous lives. Follow in the footsteps of servants, and wander through the labyrinth of small rooms and passageways that were in the house.
Witley Court Gardens are especially stunning and intricately designed, covering 40 acres. With vibrant flower beds, terraces, pavilions, statues and more, there's always something to see. The gardens are magnificently landscaped, with the East Parterre Garden recently restored, with flowers chosen that would have been there at the peak of Witley Court. No matter the season, Witley Court Gardens has something beautiful to see. In Spring, see rhododendrons, enjoy one of the Ornamental Walks, or see if you can find one of the later camellias still in flower. In Summer, the gardens are at their peak. Spot variegated pelargoniums, evening primrose (Oenothera) and verbenas. There are also beautiful climbing plants in the gardens like honeysuckle and roses. The wildflower meadows are also at their best. In Autumn, the colour palette of the gardens becomes fiery, and, arguably, the gardens look their best. With sweet chestnuts, birches, field maples, several oaks including some American species and the Acer cappadocicum with its buttery yellow leaves the gardens become a magnificent site, contrasting to the evergreen trees surrounding the area. In Winter, the best garden to visit is the Wilderness Garden; the area is under-planted and includes hazel (Corylus), witch hazel (Hamamelis) and Viburnum. The flowering camellias are one of the highlights, and you can also see snowdrops. For more of the structural elements of the garden, you might enjoy the fountains. Perhaps the most famous of the Witley Court fountains is the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain. Featured in many of the photos taken while the house was occupied, the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain has been fully restored. 'Firing' every day, once said to make the sound of an express train, it is a fascinating sight to behold.
For more outside fun, you might enjoy the Woodland Walks or, for younger guests, the Wilderness Play Area. The Wilderness Play Area at Witley Court has a wide range of flowers and mini beasts as well as a wooden play area. The play area is inspired by the local wilderness and includes a seed-pod treehouse, outdoor musical instruments, and a grass-covered amphitheatre. For children who want to go up high and speed down again, there's the wobbly bridge, scramble nets and slide. There are also picnic spots, perfect if the weather is beautiful. The winding paths of the Witley parkland will take you past the many different species of trees and shrubs from all over the world. The path beside the lake will take you to the Victorian boathouse, where you might spot a great crested grebe, just one of the beautiful birds that live at Witley.
Walk down the road to see Great Witley Church, attached to Witley Court. It's one of the best Baroque churches in the country, with ceilings painted by Antonio Bellucci. The Church is not managed by English Heritage but is on the site and available to enter. The Great Witley Church was consecrated and finished by the 2nd Lord Foley.
If you want to enjoy more Witley Court, you might like one of the events they put throughout the year. There are spooky Halloween days for families, ghost tours for older children, and even a beautiful Witley Court Christmas. Enjoy crafts, carols, and beautiful woodland walks around the Witley Court estate for an extra-special Christmas treat. You can also keep an eye out for exhibitions.
For a spot of lunch, the visitor centre has snacks perfect for any day out. If you want to take home a souvenir, you can also pop into the Witley Court shop. With gifts inspired by English heritage pieces, traditional toys from history, and beautiful souvenirs for all price points. Enjoy wines, chutneys, jams and more that are locally sourced. The shop is also online so that you can buy anytime.
If you'd rather eat somewhere else, there are plenty of places to go nearby. The Garden Tea Rooms is cute and great for a light lunch. Venture In is perfect for a special lunch if you're going out for a celebration. The Manor Arms Inn serves classic pub food, as does The Black Star and The Mason Arms. If you'd like some world cuisine, there are also restaurants like Namaste Indian Eatery, Flavour E Azam, and Royal Spice.
Kidadl recommends making a whole weekend of your day out at Witley Court and Gardens. Therefore if you're looking for somewhere to stay nearby, there are plenty of places too. If you want to stay on site, the Pool House is in the grounds of Witley Court. With places for eight, it's perfect if you have a large party to find a place for. It will have you feeling like you really live at Witley Court. There are other options too. The Manor Arms Pub at Abberley near Worcester is a five-star hotel with a classic interior. The Elms Hotel & Spa is a Queen Anne style house with a spa and indoor pool. The Lenchford Inn is near the river, so has beautiful natural views. Stourport Manor Hotel is a Victorian-style country house with modern interiors.
What to know before you go
- The Witley Court and Gardens daily from 10.00-17.00
- Male, female and accessible toilets (with baby changing facilities) are located next to the visitor centre.
- Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads at all times.
- Buggies are allowed throughout the site.
- The house is not wheelchair accessible.
- The visitor centre, exterior, and grounds are wheelchair accessible.
- Witley Court and Gardens is 10 miles north-west of Worcester on the A443.
- Parking is free for English Heritage members. Wheelchair users may need assistance.
- By bus, you can take the Yarranton service 758 Worcester to Tenbury Wells, the Worcestershire Fleet transport service 359 (Fridays only), or the R&B service 760 (Thursdays only).
- The nearest train station is Droitwich Spa, which is eight and a half miles away, a 16-minute drive to Witley Court.