The Fisherwick Estate, remodelled by Capability Brown and then lost to pay family debt, leaves a small legacy in the form of Woodhouse Farm and the woodland that surrounds it.
Brown started work on Fisherwick, near Litchfield in Staffordshire, in the late 1760s, working for the 5th Earl of Donegall. He made significant alterations to the house and grounds, but these were not to last. After the Earl’s death in 1799 the mansion and grounds were sold off separately, the former being demolished and the latter broken in to lots.
Woodhouse, which includes a three-and-a-half acre walled garden, found itself mothballed while all around it land was lost to quarrying and agriculture, and has retained remnants of the original Brown landscape. These include a ha-ha, derelict conservatory, bridges and a small group of trees.
Today, Woodhouse is open to the public two days a week. The replanted walled garden which, this year, has produced everything from apricots to watermelons is a wonderful show piece. From humble beginnings, the project has slowly moved forward. Future plans include a small café for visitor refreshments, walks and tours taking in some of the remaining Brown hard-landscaping features.
Woodhouse is run as a community interest company, with all profits being reinvested into the project. They host care farming activities (using farming as a therapeutic exercise), have a group of supported volunteers, and are looking to use the site to encourage interest in heritage skills and local food. The farm is supported by sales of fruit and vegetables, with their own community-supported agriculture group and farm shop and also produce free-range pork, and rare-breed beef from their herd of Irish Moiled cows.
For more information on the project, and future plans, please see their website or Facebook page.