‘History and lots of Rain’. A local visit to Huddington Court on 1st October 2019

‘History and lots of Rain’. A local visit to Huddington Court on 1st October 2019

This was rather an unlucky trip. When it was arranged about a year ago, 30 of us looked forward to having a tour of Huddington Court. This is a 15C manor house, described as ‘the most picturesque in Worcestershire’ in the opinion of Pevsner’s guidebook, with a garden which is full of interesting features collected from other country mansions. In January, we were informed by Chris Edmondson, whose grandfather had bought the house in 1918, that for personal reasons we would not be able to go into the house. We were disappointed but most of us felt that the garden and its adjacent medieval church still made the trip worthwhile. 

The visit was planned to take place on 24 September, but that morning the heavens opened and there was a tremendous downpour. Most people seemed relieved when I phoned them to cancel the trip.  I rearranged the visit for the following week.

Tuesday, 1st October was dry and we set off in various cars for a 2 pm start. Just as we arrived, it began to rain! There then followed one of the heaviest and most persistent thunder storm that I have ever experienced. In the pouring rain, we hurried to take refuge in the church. Here Chris Edmondson introduced us to the Wintour family who built the house in 1485 and held it until 1658. When the Protestant Reformation was enforced in England, the Wintours remained faithful Catholics. Three Wintour brothers were heavily implicated in the so-called Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and were executed for treason. Chris wondered how far the Plot was master-minded by Robert Cecil, Secretary of State to James the First, in order to undermine English Catholicism. This is not the traditional view but it is an intriguing interpretation. 

This was followed by a very wet and soggy walk around the garden and again we again sought refuge to escape the rain.  This time in the Regency orangery which was rescued from Strensham Court, demolished in 1974.

In spite of the appalling weather, I think that most of us found it an interesting visit. But there was a final challenge! As we motored home along delightful rural lanes, our way was blocked by flash floods. We reversed and tried another route, but had to negotiate several stretches of flooding before we reached the safety of major roads. It was a local visit which we shall not forget in a hurry!

John Dixon.