A picturesque landscape by J C Loudon associated with a country house, later largely demolished, which he designed at the same time. That landscape lies within a larger and older deer park, with Victorian over-planting.
The Hope End estate was purchased by Edward Moulton-Barrett (who later assumed the surname Browning) from Sir Henry Vane Tempest in 1809. The Moulton-Barretts had been resident in Jamaica where they possessed extensive sugar plantations since 1655, living there in `opulent tropical splendour',(CL 1968) at Cinnamon Hill. Among Moulton-Barrett's children was the later Elizabeth Barrett Browning; she briefly described the setting of her childhood home in `The Lost Bower'. Less than twenty years after rebuilding Hope End financial difficulties brought about by the slave situation in Jamaica led to Moulton-Barrett's mortgage being foreclosed and the estate sold. The purchaser was the antiquary Thomas Heywood, who in 1867 sold it to C A Hewitt. The family of the present owners bought the property in 1947.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Hope End lies c 4km north of Ledbury in the lee of the Malvern Hills 3km to the east. Locally the landscape is one of valleys and woods, and Hope End Hotel, on the site of and incorporating parts of the C18 and early C19 houses, lies at the intersection of a Y-plan arrangement of small valleys with the foot of the Y to the south-east. The valleys and the Cradley Brook, which rises as a spring to the north of the Hotel, drain in that direction.
The C18 and C19 park was bounded to east and west by the minor roads which meet at the hamlet of Petty France to the south. To the west and north the park was defined by topographical constraints, with the ground falling away steeply into woodland (Raycomb and Berrington woods). The northern limit of the park was Oyster Hill (211m), from which panoramic and distant views north and west are obtained, as well as back south over the park itself. In the late C19 the summit of the hill lay outside the park; originally it probably lay within.
The registered area, essentially the late C19 park, is c 100ha.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
One drive approaches Hope End from the south-west, from Wellington Heath. At its end is Upper Lodge, a perhaps mid C18 two-storey brick building doubled in size in the mid C19. A second, longer drive leads from the south-east; in the C18 and early C19 that was apparently the principal approach. At its end is Lower Lodge (listed grade II), a single-storey, octagonal building (extended in C20) with gothick windows; it, like the adjoining gate piers (also listed grade II), is early C19, and perhaps of c 1815 by J C Loudon.
Hope End Hotel lies in the higher, western section of the former park. The building restored to use c 1976 as Hope End Hotel (listed grade II) was built as a house in the 1750s. It was reduced from three storeys to two and converted to a stables and perhaps service court after Edward Moulton-Barrett built a new house immediately to the south-east, largely finished by 1815, for which he probably employed as architect J C Loudon. The house of 1815 was one of the few country houses to be built entirely in an oriental, Moorish style; an especially rare, and possibly unique feature was the minarets at the eastern end of the house. The opulence of the interior reportedly matched the extravagance of the exterior. Loudon's house was largely demolished in 1873 by C A Hewitt when he built a large new stone house (Hope End House) on high ground c 250m to the north; all that survives of Moulton-Barrett's house is the gateway (listed grade II) and a few 'Eastern' fragments (listed grade II*).
The position of the house before the 1750s remains uncertain. One possibility is that it stood on the same site as the house built c 1750 and was perhaps incorporated within it. A second is that it lay c 100m to the west and slightly above it, in the immediate area of a row of sweet chestnut trees.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
About 100m west of Hope End Hotel, and running roughly north/south, is the above mentioned closely spaced row of six sweet chestnut trees. A date, very roughly, of c 1700 seems probable.
In 1822 J C Loudon wrote in his Encyclopaedia of Gardening that the house and grounds at Hope End had recently been improved to his designs. The main elements of Loudon¿s picturesque landscape in the small valley east of the house survive, although the paucity of contemporary documentation makes identification and interpretation of the finer details difficult. Immediately south of the new house the limestone valley side was cut back to form a rock face and to open up the view east. Similar cutting back also took place of the valley side north of the house, but on a much smaller scale. A sinuous pool was created immediately north of the house by damming the Cradley Brook. That pool, with two small islands approached by bridges in its lower, eastern half, is fed (probably originally via a cascade) from a smaller pond to the north. Perhaps in the early C20 a c 3m deep brick-lined plunge pool was formed at the south end of the smaller pool. That may represent an adaptation or rebuilding of an earlier cold bath. About 1990 a gothick grotto was formed in the west-facing end wall of the pool, beneath the bridge/dam between the pools. Other works at the same time included dividing the main pool into two by means of a dam midway along it, and constructing a ruined temple folly (the Gothic Island Ruin) on the lower of the two islands.
East of Loudon's house was lawn; an early C19 drawing shows the family playing cricket here. After demolition that grassland was extended over the house site to form the rough lawn which existed in 1997. Sale particulars of 1832 mention parterres, presumably adjoining the house. No trace was to be seen of these in the late C20. Loudon is also known to have created a Quarry Garden.
Walks, presumably a circuit, apparently led along the valley sides; new, or reinstated walks were formed in the late C20 as the landscape was restored. In the late 1980s and early 1990s several new structures of this kind were introduced: a ruined temple on a platform at the north end of the dam between the two main pools (where a garden building stood in the C19 and early C20) with a seat to the north by a low rock face; a Belvedere on top of the cliff south of the house; and a further ruined temple east of the last. C19 sketches and writings indicate the presence of various seats or buildings (eg `The Kiosk'); none survived in the late C20.
Early C19 illustrations show the valley to be well wooded, as Lantern Grove, along its south side, remains. In addition to deciduous woodland (including late C20 hardwoods) the valley, like the remainder of the grounds of Hope End Hotel, contains many coniferous specimen trees, the majority probably planted in the late C19 although some (eg yew) appear to be older. There is an especially good group south of the end of the main pool, where the main drive entered the grounds.
To the north of the hotel the ground rises to Oyster Hill. This is permanent pasture, and on its lower slopes mature (and over mature) parkland trees are scattered. The parkland character of the eastern and southern parts of the former park is less pronounced; pasture has been improved and there has been some C20 commercial woodland planted. Older woods, Cockshute Wood and Dumbleton Wood, abut the northern boundary of the park, while Lodge Wood runs down its eastern edge.
The park here was probably formed in the 1750s when the house, at its centre, was rebuilt. The deer which were introduced were reputedly removed in the early C19, as they proved too damaging to Loudon's plantings.
The walled kitchen garden lies c 200m west of Hope End Hotel, the remodelled house of c 1750, and is probably of the same date. It measures c 80m east/west and 50m north/south, and dips slightly to the south. The garden is surrounded by stone-capped brick walls, with doors in the east, west and south walls. The north wall was heated, and a range of sheds survives behind. Incorporated within the inner, south face of the wall are round-headed recesses c 1.5m tall; originally, as now, within a glasshouse, these presumably acted as shelves/microclimates for especially valuable plants. The only glasshouses within the garden are along the north wall and of c 1990. The interior was cultivated in 1997 and also contained later C20 fruit trees.
Outside the north-east corner of the gardens is a single-storey brick building, enlarged in the C19 from a store into a gardener's or gamekeeper's cottage. In the late C20 it was refurbished for use as hotel accommodation.
Country Life, 144 (19 September 1968), pp 715- 17
D Whitehead, Notes on Hewell Grange [noting Hope End Quarry Garden] (copy in EH file)
OS 6" to 1 mile: Herefordshire sheet 35 NE, 1st edition published 1886
Herefordshire sheet 36 NW, 1st edition published 1886
Herefordshire sheet 36 SW, 1st edition published 1891
OS 25" to 1 mile: Herefordshire sheet 36.9, 2nd edition published 1904
Survey, 1791 (F84/21); Plan, 1848 (K19/1), (Herefordshire Record Office)
Copies of early C19 drawings of house and grounds and 1832 sale particulars held at Hope End Hotel.
Description written: 1998
Edited: August 1999