Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Where's That Then? No 41

I'm going to do a much longer blog about this place, but the fountain is the quite jaw-dropping centre (and master) piece. Until the end of October you can see it burst into watery life almost every hour between 11 and 4; the 'firing-up' being described as being like 'the noise of an express train'. I discovered it on Saturday, couldn't keep my eyes off it and want to go again as soon as I can. Oh yes, the house is worth a look too. Any ideas?

12 comments:

The Vintage Knitter said...

Is it Witley Court in Worcestershire? It looks like it, although I haven't visited for a while.

Peter Ashley said...

Well done Vintage Knitter, it is indeed Witley Court. This was my first visit, and they told us if we hurried up the fountains would 'fire-up' at midday. As we set foot on the top step of the enormous flight that goes down to the gardens the church clock struck 12 and the water started jetting up into the sky. I thanked English Heritage profusedly for this personal welcome. Puzzled looks all round.

The Vintage Knitter said...

Thank you Mr. A. I've never seen the fountains in action, but was very impressed with the building itself. Its such a shame that it burnt down and quite tragic too as it must have been very impressive in its heyday.

By the way, did you that that the video for Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale was shot at Witley Court?

Peter Ashley said...

I'd no idea that a Procul Harum video was shot here. I've always wanted to make a film myself, with vestal virgins on a coach going off to the seaside. The only video I've seen on location is a very early one shot, I think, on Blackheath. But it may be Chiswick. Oh I don't actually know.

Philip Wilkinson said...

It's a stupendous fountain, isn't it? Did you go in the church?

Peter Ashley said...

I did indeed go in the church Philip. As Betjeman has described other church wonders, this is indeed one to bring you to your knees even if you're an atheist. I was too awestruck to take a photograph, but this is one of the finest Baroque interiors in the country, if not Europe. I have to return to both church and house.

CherryPie said...

It is on my wish list to visit, I haven't quite made it this year!

Love your photo :-)

Peter Ashley said...

Thankyou Cherry Pie, and welcome.

ChrisP said...

When I first went to Great Witley in the 1960s it was an abandoned ruin, weeds everywhere, walls tottering and the lead pipes in the fountain had all been 'liberated'. It was much more atmospheric than today's tidied up, preserved pseudo-ruin, but I suppose it was either that or watch as it disappeared completely.

Diplomate said...

Chris P - i so agree. I seemed to visit many "ruined" or distressed architectural beauties in the '70s. These visits normally involved night time vigils, a small fire home-made recreational chemicals, girls, guitars, weird scenery and weeks of disturbed sleep to follow. Witley was deffinitely one of them, Kirby Hall another, Stowe Temple, and many many others. Sod promotional music videos, make your own !

Tendryakov said...

ChrisP:
Couldn't agree more. I love neglected unknown places, being able to just stumble across places fortuitously. I detest all this heritagisation and signposting. It takes all the magic away. I grew up a few miles from Witley Court. You used to be able to go there and be alone, or for a bit of slap and tickle right out in the fresh air without any fear of interruption. I've got a photo of me late 1960's, perched on top of that fountain. My dad remembered the glow in the sky when it burnt down. We used to have a glass tetragonal thingy from a chandelier, looted from the ruins a few days after the fire. Before BH bought it, incidentally, there was a plan to put it on the roundabout in front of the Worcester Cathedral.

Tendryakov said...

. . . plan to put it on the roundabout - the fountain, I mean, not Witley Court!