Brenda Colvin and Burwarton House

Brenda Colvin (1897–1981) and Burwarton House, Shropshire, Registered Grade II.

Brenda Colvin was one of Britain's most distinguished landscape architects. She was a pioneer, dedicated to promoting the profession: she helped found the Institute of Landscape Architects in 1929, now the Landscape Institute, becoming president in 1951.

Burwarton Garden 1956

Burwarton Garden 1956
© English Heritage

Brenda designed many gardens (she also added to Norah Lindsay's garden at Sutton Courtenay Manor, Oxon, Registered Grade II) as well as large-scale urban and industrial landscapes. She designed landscapes for several universities including the University of East Anglia as well as landscapes around several power stations, factories, mineral workings, hospitals, and reservoirs. Her books were an inspiration and she was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the CBE, in 1973. This award typically goes to those who have a high profile role in regional affairs and have made a distinguished contribution in their area of activity.

One of her early commissions was Burwarton, which has extensive formal gardens and a landscape park all carefully sited to take advantage of the rugged upland scenery of the locality. The garden lies on the lower eastern slope of Brown Clee Hill, which at 540m is the highest summit in England south of the Pennines.

The garden comprises a series of terraces with steps and gravel walks which fall away south of Burwarton House. In the 1920s they were extended by Brenda further to the south to include a rose garden within a yew hedge.

There are good views from the garden to the south where the ground slopes into the valley of a stream which drains the park. The main view at Burwarton however is from the west side of the house, enjoyed either from the dining room or from the lawn, which is bounded by a ha-ha. Generally the park's west half is more rugged and the slope steeper, containing abandoned industrial landscapes such as bellpits and other remains of mining for coal and ironstone. In the park are three pools created in the 19th century to serve as fire pools for the house. An icehouse is cut into the bank of one pool.

The Burwarton Estate, still one of the county's largest, is private and not open to the public.