Colwall, near Malvern
When John Wilson bought the land on which Perrycroft was to be built in 1893 it amounted to some 80 acres on the west side of the Malvern Hills above the village of Colwall. It is easy to imagine that Voysey was instrumental in choosing the exact site for the house and its surrounding garden, as the focus of the whole estate is the spectacular Herefordshire Beacon, otherwise known as British Camp, an Iron Age hill fort. Perrycroft enjoys an unique view of the Camp, looking south on to its most romantic and distinctive profile.
The British Camp dominates the views both from the house and from the garden.
In its heyday the garden was cared for by a team of gardeners and early photographs show elaborate and extensive borders. When offered of sale for the first time in 1949 the detailed description is of a “beautiful garden..notable for its wealth of well-kept Yew and Holly hedges..” including a stone flagged terrace, sunk garden, tennis lawn, herbaceous borders, summer house, rose garden and pergola, rock garden and fish pools, “the whole surrounded by lawns planted with many thousands of Daffodil and Narcissus bulbs…Many finely grown timber and ornamental trees add to the beauty of the grounds, and there are many delightful paths through some 18 acres of woodland..”
When we moved to Perrycroft in 1999 this garden had all but disappeared. Since that time we have enjoyed the process of rediscovering John Wilson’s garden. The first few years were spent clearing the brambles and saplings, and from the undergrowth emerged paths, ponds and borders. We have been careful to preserve any original planting which survived, and were delighted to discover fine shrubs hidden under the canopy of self-sown trees. Most of the original holly and yew hedges survive but had grown to tree like proportions, and so were ruthlessly cut back again to rejuvenate. More hedges were planted, box as well as yew, and within 10 years we had a garden again.
The most delightful discovery came in our second Spring. Before our arrival sheep had been allowed to graze the garden, and so there was no sign of any spring bulbs. In the following and subsequent Springs the bulbs began to flourish, and we now have a succession from snowdrops through to wild daffodils and bluebells of wonderful native bulbs. The abundance of wild flowers which follow on from the bulbs is also truly spectacular. The original borders have been replanted, new borders created, and the garden now offers a variety of formal and wild gardens, ponds and woodland for the visitor to enjoy in all seasons.