I am aware that there has been a lull in blog posts of late, but what with the warm weather and the sunny days I have been outside enjoying it all.
I recently took advantage of the NGS open days that were being held in the county and yes it was an opportunity to explore and be nosey around some otherwise private space but I was surprised by what I found when exploring.
Oteley is a private estate on the shores of the Mere at Ellesmere and after exploring the derelict lodge house earlier this year I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to look around the gardens and to see the house.
I had not done any research on the house and gardens and other then looking at the viewing platform from the other side of the mere I had no idea what would be there. I drove in past the lodge and followed the drive up through the farmland, which once was thedeer parkto the designated parking field, it was a fine day, the sun was shining and there was a nice breeze meaning that it wasn’t too warm for me to start exploring.
I walked in through a yard which housed a myriad of buildings then past the redbrick kennels, all with the liver and white Springer Spaniels lazing in the sun. Once in the courtyard I realised that there was no more a grand house at Oteley, it was a fairly modern built red brick house. This of course aroused my interest but also I would be lying if I said I was a little disappointed by my discovery.
I walked down through the walled vegetable garden, which started to raise my interest as there were various clues to a once larger estate and potentially a rather large walled kitchen garden, I followed the path down past the neglected tennis court and out through some rather impressive gates to a lovely rather lush green lawn.
I strolled round the lawn and started to look around the open space. My first point of call was a wooden cottage, which looked to me like an old gardener’s cottage which had a strange folly like building attached, this was built out of the local red sandstone which the area of Shropshire is famous for and many of the local larger houses are build of.
I looked around and found that the path led down through the shade of the tress down towards the edge of the mere. I followed the path down towards the mere and made my way through the brightly coloured rhododendrons. I stopped at several points to enjoy the view that the path had of Ellesmere Church and of the park that sits on the other shore. I found myself at a rather grand view point, build of stone and with a swirling design floor made from pebbles it commanded a fine view across the Mere and started the imagination to run riot with what would have the point been used for; parties, drinks or dinners
I climbed the stone steps back up towards the main gardens and found myself walking along the terrace which was almost a battlement it was made of stone and gave wonderful views. It was here that I decided to venture off the path and have a look at the more dilapidated battlements and steps, they gave a wonderful secret garden appeal to the garden as they were hidden away behind fir trees and conifers. I stumbled back to the main path avoiding the rabbit holes and uneven path and climbed more steps back up to the lawn.
It was here on the lawn that stood the impressive tower, almost a folly in the way it stood out of place but majestically against the blue sky. Italian is style and appearance it gave the garden an almost Portmerion feel.
Unfortunately you were unable to climb the tower, but you were you able the view of the estate would have been amazing.
I pottered back to the car, left with a challenge on finding out about Oteley and what had happened to it. Luckily with the aid of Google I was able to discover a few facts about the estate.
The estate was first to be imparked in the 14th and up until 1960 a neo – Elizabethan stone manor house stood grandly overlooking the gardens and estate, The house was built for Charles Kynaston Mainwaring, who designed the gardens himself and drew inspiration from the Italian gardens that he saw whilst on a continental tour. It was documented that in 1900 the deer park had approximately 80 Fallow deer and 20 Red deer.
The gardener’s cottage was built in 1851 with a Swiss Cottage design it sat surrounded by a BogGarden, and rustic bridges and was planted up with shrubs and specimen trees includingcyprusand arbavitus.
The terraces were again constructed in 1851 from Grinshill stone; they were considered one of the finest terraces in the country and had a central axis which descended to an elevated platform, which projected into the Mere. The terrace paths were constructed with black and white pebbles, laid in patterns like Italian guilloche ornament. The terraces were also elaborated with huge ornamental vases filled with scarlet geraniums.
In 1855 the campanile tower was added and by 1891 the kitchen gardens included greenhouses growing vines and ferns.
But by 1960 the gardens had become overgrown and the house was tragically demolished to make way for the red brick house that stands there today, whilst the house was being demolished the uppermost terrace was also bulldozed.
It’s sad that not all of the garden or the house survived, but what is left of the gardens is stunning and certainly starts the cogs of imagination whirring.