Friday, 30 July 2021

Historic chapel and garden open for Easter

STONOR PARK will be holding two grand openings this Easter weekend.

STONOR PARK will be holding two grand openings this Easter weekend.

The shrubbery will be open to the public for the first time and the Chapel of the Blessed Trinity, which shut in November for roof repairs, will re-open for mass on Sunday.

Lord and Lady Camoys, who live at Stonor House, have been landscaping the shrubbery since it was badly damaged in a storm in 1991 which brought down trees including a huge cedar and evergreen oaks.

The couple enlisted the help of arboriculturalists and landscape gardeners to help clear the site and in 1993 they planted more than 90 new trees.

Lady Camoys said: “It was like a clean slate for us. Until the storm it was just part of the park with the deer running through it.

“We then decided we would fence off the whole area so we could replant the shrubbery and the two small woods behind the house.”

They planted a row of 35 hazel trees similar to that found at her family home at Melford Park in Suffolk, which now belongs to the National Trust.

Lady Camoys said: “There was a walk that I used to love as a child and I used to gather the nuts so I thought I would like to bring some of that here.”

Among the other trees planted were box, sweet chestnuts, holly, yew and five walnuts. Ornamental cherries were planted to run through the centre of the shrubbery and in 1994 2,500 daffodils were put in.

Lord Camoys said the box trees had grown very well.

He said: “I am part-American and I remember seeing them there unclipped, growing wild, particularly in Virginia. We have planted a whole line of box trees which have given the shrubbery more shape.

“It is slow work – you have to wait, which is the reason we haven’t opened it before. It has been pretty bare and not that interesting. Now that it is taking shape, it is more interesting and more attractive.

“It is quite a lot of work but very rewarding. I am asked how many gardeners I employ and I say one full-time gardener and my wife and they have been amazed. It is all part of trying to protect the heritage of the estate.”

Meanwhile, the 10.30am mass on Sunday will mark the re-opening of the Grade I listed chapel following the repairs.

The Catholic chapel, which was built around 1300, was on English Heritage’s “at risk” register.

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