The Early History of Broadway Tower by Jill Tovey

In 1751 George William Coventry inherited the title 6th Earl of Coventry, Croome Court and 15,000 acres of land in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.  He was 29 years old and the speed with which he set about improving and modernising his inheritance implies that he had already made plans about what he would do.

His first act was to employ up and coming landscape management expert Lancelot Brown to work with him on the project. Brown was an instinctive engineer who knew how water and land could be moulded and controlled – he knew the ‘Capabilities’. The two men had met through a mutual association with Lord Cobham at Stowe and the young George William had recognised Brown’s potential. So it was that in 1752 the two began working in partnership; they first of all turned the existing 17th century house into a modern, symmetrical Palladian style mansion and then went on to create a vast, idyllic English landscape around it.

Whilst the basic ideas, and the boldness of style and design, were almost certainly the Earl’s, it was probably Brown’s skills in land and water management that gave him the confidence to have the 760 acres of land surrounding the house sculpted on a monumental scale, never before attempted.

The basic project took over ten years, but Brown continued to be involved – making adjustments to drainage right up until his death in 1783. So grateful to him was the Earl that he erected a monument in his memory beside the beautifullake he had created out of a ‘Morass’.

The creation of the Landscape Park had become a lifetime obsession for the 6th Earl of Coventry. He had also employed Robert Adam to design iconic buildings to form focal points and draw the eye to views that observers were intended to see. In this Adam, Brown and the Earl had worked closely together. However, by 1794 Brown and Adam were both dead, but the George William wasn’t finished.

Whilst he now had buildings to decorate the inner park, he was thinking on a wider scale and brought in the latest ‘must have’ architect, James Wyatt to finish the job. There was already an ‘eye-catcher’ to the south in the shape of gothic style Dunstall Castle, which Adam had designed in 1765, but now he wanted eye-catchers to the north, east and west of the house, to be placed on the most visible pieces of high ground that he owned. So, between 1794 and 1801 Wyatt designed the Panorama Tower to the west:

Panorama Tower, James Wyatt 1801 © Croome Heritage Trust
Panorama Tower, James Wyatt 1801 © Croome Heritage Trust, image not for further publication without permission.

Pirton Castle to the north:

Picton Castle © Croome Heritage Trust
Pirton Castle, James Wyatt 1801 © Croome Heritage Trust, image not for further publication without permission

 

and, to the east, Broadway Tower.

Broadway Tower © Croome Heritage Trust
Broadway Tower, James Wyatt 1794 © Croome Heritage Trust, image not for further publication without permission

Some miles to the east of Croome he owned Springhill House and some land on the high ridge near the village of Broadway and Wyatt’s design, in the Romanesque style fashionable at the time, completed the Earl’s vision of the ideal, allegorical landscape. The Tower could also perhaps have been intended as a monument to himself – standing proud on the hilltop, only distantly visible from Croome, but with views over sixteen counties. If this was the case, it worked because 220 years later, people still ask “Who built this? The answer is George William. 6th Earl of Coventry – thus his name lives on. So far from being a ‘Folly’ –  it was a statement and had a purpose.

 

Jill Tovey
Croome Heritage Trust, 2020

 

The 1826 History of Middle Hill and Broadway by Sir Thomas Phillipps

Buried amongst 2,000 boxes of Phillipps’ papers in the Bodleian Old Library in Oxford are some unpublished local history notes. Local historian, David Ella, has transcribed The 1826 History of Middle Hill and Broadway written by Sir Thomas Phillipps (see link below).

Phillipps (1792-1872) was the greatest collector of books and manuscripts of the 19th century, and a prolific letter writer, keeping copies of his drafts and all manner of correspondence.

To read the article click on the link below:

Broadway & Middle Hill History by Sir Thomas Phillipps 1826

 

Articles

Below, listed in order of publication, are articles (and some films) about the village. Some are written by local people, some obtained from The British Newspaper Archive and some link to articles on other websites. Articles reproduced from newspapers are from 18th, 19th and early 20th century newspapers of a wide range of occurrences in Broadway and of events in the lives of the village’s inhabitants.

1950-2000

1900-1950

1800-1900

1700-1800

 

 

John Singer Sargent – Talk by Mary Alexander

image
Mary Alexander

On Wednesday 8th February 2017 at 8pm, Mary Alexander will give a talk entitled Fizz and Crackle: Imagination, Innovation and Curiosity in the work of John Singer Sargent at Evesham Arts Centre, Victoria Avenue, Evesham WR11 4QH.

American artist John Singer Sargent RA (1856-1925) made the quiet Cotswolds village of Broadway his home during the mid 1880s, and became a member of the ‘Broadway Colony’ a bohemian crowd of artists and writers living in the village. Whilst in Broadway, Sargent painted what has become his most famous painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose in the gardens of Russell House and Farnham House.

Sargent is regarded as the leading society portrait painter of his generation and Art History lecturer and tutor, Mary Alexander, will explore his extraordinary inventiveness and technical brilliance across a range of media and subjects.

Tickets £7 on the door. For further details tel. 01386 48883.

 

 

The History of the Lygon Arms

$_35Our next meeting of the Broadway History Society will take place on Monday 18th April 2016 starting at 7pm in the Torrington Room at the Lygon Arms. During the meeting Cllr. Liz. Eyre will be giving an illustrated talk on ‘The History of the Lygon Arms’.

All welcome. Non-members £3.

 

 

A History Society for Broadway

Inaugurated in June 2015, Broadway History Society has been set up to:

  1. Promote the understanding of and study the history of the village of Broadway, in the county of Worcestershire.
  2. Arrange meetings, walking tours, talks and other events on a broad ‘history’ theme to include visits to local historical building or sites.
  3. To provide a forum for the reporting, debate and discussion of issues relating to Broadway’s history and to share knowledge of the community and local area.
  4. To be an educational and non-profit making society.

Membership is open to all (individual £10 p.a., joint £15). For more details please contact Mary Smith (Hon. Treasurer) tel. 01386 853278.

Meetings will take place in 2015/16 on the following dates:

  • Monday 21st September, 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, an illustrated talk by Gordon Franks ‘The Centenary of the Lifford Hall’.
  • Monday 19th October, 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, an illustrated talk by Sarah McCormick Healy ‘Arts & Crafts in the Cotswolds’.
  • Monday 16th November, 7pm in The Community Room, The Court, Russell Square, Broadway, a talk by Jon Goldswain on ‘Elgar from Cradle to Grave’.
  • Monday 14th December , 7pm at The Court, High Street, Broadway. Christmas drinks and a talk by Michael de Navarro on ‘Mary Anderson de Navarro’.
  • Monday 18th January 2016, 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, at talk by Graham Downie on ”The Fairground Calendar’.
  • Monday 15th February, TBA.
  • Monday 21st March, TBA.
  • Monday 18th April, 7pm, venue to be confirmed. A talk by Liz Eyre on the Lygon Arms Hotel,
  • Monday 16th May. Annual General Meeting.