Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rectory Woods, Church Stretton - "the least stressful location in England"

Rectory Woods take the countryside right into the centre of Church Stretton. The Shropshire Council leaflet describes it as follows:
Rectory Wood once formed part of the grounds of the Rectory in Church Stretton. In around 1775 the owner, James Mainwaring, made great changes to create a designed woodland landscape garden. 
It is believed that Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, a friend of Mainwaring and arguably the greatest British landscape gardener of the Georgian era, influenced the design here at Rectory Wood. Capability Brown used the natural form of the landscape to create his gardens. He planted trees to break up the landscape and to create views across sweeping open spaces that would lead right up to the houses. Perhaps his most notable feature was his use of water, creating many 'natural' lakes, which were then connected by bridges. 
A ‘Capability’ landscape creation was usually on a grand scale. He was responsible for landscaping some of the finest country houses and estate gardens in Britain. At Rectory Wood, his influence can be seen on a smaller scale. 
Today, the history, wildlife and pleasures of Rectory Wood can be enjoyed by everyone. The well-preserved remains of this designed landscape can still be discovered; there are formal walks, a stream and yew-ringed pool and sites of buildings, which include an ice house and pump house.
According to another Shropshire Council site, in May 2009 someone wrote as follows in the Independent:
By a series of twisty byways and capricious diagonals, I'd discovered the least stressful location in England: its name is Rectory Wood, Church Stretton.
So this is a good place to end my posts about last summer's holiday in Yorkshire and Shropshire. The photograph shows the remains of the pump house beside the pool, deep in the woods.

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