Sunday, 19 July 2015

A Witley shade of pale

Armed with a positive weather forecast and last minute change of plan, we packed our picnic bag and headed off to nearby Witley Court, an English Heritage managed property in our own county of Worcestershire.

Witley was a palatial estate during the Victorian era, home to many decadent parties involving the rich, famous and royal of the time, and we visit often.  It has a bit of everything, well, apart from a roof and any liveable rooms! 

It was devastated by a fire in 1937, the fire was spotted but the lack of maintenance of the pump to pump water from the fountains to the house in case of such an emergency was it's downfall.  As the insurance company failed to payout to restore the damaged wing, the then owner sold the house to a scrap merchant, who took what was sellable and left it in a dreadful state.    

Amazingly, there is still plaster on the walls in places, very ornate, still chalky to the touch, and open to the elements.

We arrived just as the Perseus and Andromeda fountain was firing up for it's first display of the day.  There was hardly a soul around and we enjoyed a wander around the grounds as if we owned the place, very nice!

 The summerhouses in the gardens are stone and oh, so grand

There are so many nooks and crannies, each time we go I spot some detail I hadn't really noticed much before
Overgrown balustrades, dusty, algae covered gates and rotting windows 

Cobwebs, wrought iron staircases to nowhere and fallen fountains.

The sense of grandeur and decadence cannot be ignored, this place is huge!

The conservatory, despite no longer having a glass roof, is still larger than your average 5 bed detached house, the lavender and grape vines still growing there as if nothing has changed

Ghostly bare windows stare out through the John Nash designed portico, said to be the largest portico on a country house in England.

A bit of fancy flooring in one of the few parts left with a roof 

charred wood in the ballroom, where Elgar used to visit and play the piano

still leaves a mark on your hands after almost 80 years

We sat by the front pool and watched the clouds go by for a while

On the house front, we have completed the arch to the garden

We took the wood from the pergola, the hole will be filled in by the summerhouse, when it arrives

The line of stones in front of the pergola is where the stream is going, it all looks a bit tatty at present, but it is a work in progress

If you follow me on facebook, you will know there have been no charity shop purchases this week, but a rather nice £1 black broderie anglaise skirt I bought, is being transformed into a top

I found a pull on shirt I quite like the shape of and laid it over the inverted folded skirt, and cut around it

Then stitched it all together, I used French seams as I didn't think the edges of the fabric would be too stable


I've since hemmed the bottom and am using some of the leftover waistband to put a cuff on the sleeves. I need bias binding for the neckline and have yet to find mine, I know there's a roll of black bias binding somewhere!

I have some jeans to alter for OH as well, so this week my evenings will be spent sewing, ah well, nothing on the telly anyway! 

Oh, if you were wondering about the post title, the 60's band, Procol Harum filmed some of the video for their song "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at Witley Court, and it is of interest to historians as it shows Witley in it's pre-restored state in 1967.


  1. You're clever with the skirt becoming a top! Cleverly done! I love Witley, it looks so beautiful, especially the fountain!x

  2. I'd love to have gone to one of Witley's wild parties!
    Great job on the refashion. xxx

  3. What a magnificent house, even in its state of ruin and abandonment. I imagine how fabulous it was in its heyday. Beautiful gardens and fountain too. I like returning to places like that again and again, to see old favourite details and spot new ones.
    Your garden's coming on, and the top-from-a-skirt is an ingenious remake! xxx

  4. I can only imagine how grand Whitley was in its heyday, it is is still quite magnificent and the grounds are beautiful. I can see why you enjoy returning to rediscover it. Your garden is taking shape , a reward for all your hard work. I am in awe of your clever sewing skills.

  5. I am convinced that we are going to bump into each other sooner rather than later... I was just over the hill at the Shelsey Walsh Hill Climb on Sunday! Your top is very clever. Jx


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