The Garden & Malt House
The Hall has small, but charming, walled gardens running down to the moat. Humphrey Pakington was a keen gardener himself, and the herb garden in the south-east angle of the moat has been restored and replanted (see below left).
The moat attracts many water-fowl to the island, on the west side of which is the Georgian Chapel, built by the Throckmortons in 1743 and now restored with 18th century altar, rails and organ.
From the courtyard a gate in the brick and sandstone wall leads into the South Garden. On the far side of a round lawn are the Malt House (now attractively restored as a Visitor Centre, details below) and the Georgian Chapel.
Halfway along the garden wall to the right, another gap leads into the North Garden, an expanse of turf fringed with trees and narrowing to a point at the northernmost tip of the island. There is a path all round the edge of the moat, beginning at the south bridge outside the Brewhouse and continuing behind the Malt House and the Georgian Chapel to the wash-house and damson tree in the North Garden. On the west side the moat broadens out into a small lake with waterfowl and good coarse fishing.
The moat was originally the second of a chain of five pools constructed in the 13th century in a fashion common in the forests of Arden and Feckenham. Apart from the moat itself the topmost (Gallows Pool) and the third (Upper Pond) still hold water. The fourth and fifth (Middle Pond and Harvington Pond) are now only marshy depressions along the brook which flows down to the village and so into the Stour. A few yards north-west of the moat is the sandstone quarry used in the construction of the Hall. In the 18th century it was known as the Dog Kennel, and holes for the rafters of lean-to buildings show that shelters of some kind formerly existed there.
Award Winning Malt House Visitor Centre
Left: The ground floor of the Malt House.
Right: The Malt House from the picnic area.
The Malt House, which is of sandstone below and brick and timber above, still has its 18th-century malting-kiln, part of the malting-floor, lime-ash areas and the wooden hoist for raising sacks of barley. The Hall was awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant to restore the Malt House and create a Visitor and Education Centre there.
The new centre is now open and displays include a description of life on the estate that once surrounded the Hall. The old kiln and drying floor are brought to life and a new audio-visual display introduces the ‘Maltster’, Randall Bagnall, whose tales bring the Hall alive for everyone, but in particular, for those who have difficulty with the stairs and cant see the whole house for themselves. On the first floor of the Malt House amusing interactive games tell the story of the Hall’s 700 year history.
The Malt House Architects have recently won the RICS Award, West Midlands, for Conservation and Restoration.