There’s little as pleasing as taking a walk through a restored ancient garden. Sadly far too many great English gardens have been lost to the ravages of time, so it’s great to hear of renovation projects.
Guy’s Cliffe is one such place.It’s history is long and colourful. It blossomed from humble beginnings to have an Oratory founded in the 5th Century and thereon it afforded shelter to the legendary 10th Century Guy of Warwick, resident chantry priests also made their home there in the middle ages amongst whom was the noted 15th Century antiquarian John Rous whose history the site is now mostly lost. Latterly the famous Georgian actress Sarah Siddons stayed here often in the welcoming bosom of the Greatheed family, who along with the succeeding Percy family did further embellish the location to see it become a country manor of some worth and intrigue…
Ultimately and sadly though it ended up somewhat slighted for it suffered greatly at the hands of negligence and fire, but all was not lost… Its present owners rescued the 15th Century Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene and ancillary rooms in the 1970’s armed with limited resources but bountiful determination.
Now the outer grounds need that same commitment and attention and indeed the determination is there but their resources are few… they really need some help! They have, therefore, started a go fund me campaign principally with this appeal to address two areas of Guy’s Cliffe.
The first is at the foot of the buildings aside the river Avon and is known as The Lower Walks, the second is an upper cliff area that has lost its walkway and where it is said Felice the wife of Guy of Warwick strode back in the 10th Century, therefore this area is known as Fair Felice’s Walk in her honour.
On the Lower Walk two pathways existed along its length that were straddled with ornamental planting to supplement the delightfulness of the areas’ aspect. Along the cliff’s rise here are the cave of Guy of Warwick and its odd neighbourly hollows together with the mysterious Cloisters cavern, further still is the old pump house, a subterranean water cave and the alcoves of the cliff gallery. Evidence of subterranean workings and possibly a sub-basement level in the rock also exist, tempting exploration, but they are blocked by great mounds of post WWII partial demolition and 1992 fire demolition piles.
The Lower Walk area is itself a Site of Special Scientific Interest resplendent with the rise of the cliff along its length, laying bare its alluring, ancient geological features.
It is an area they that needs to find its former glory and be given regular access to. They have with the help of Natural England begun to address the issue of restoring this unique spot, much clearing of the invasive Japanese Bamboo has occurred, a small footpath has been put in and the doors of the pump house re-instated.
Bigger hurdles now face them though for they need to clear the large debris piles, grade and plant out the land and possibly install a large cliff-side ramp to go up to and meet Fair Felice’s Walk and thus afford access for all visitors and machinery relating to ongoing maintenance.
By doing this another aspect of Guy’s Cliffe will return to be enjoyed by many and as part of the hire of the site as a whole it may go on to contribute towards the future restoration of even the great house itself, but importantly they will have righted one wrong from a disregarding past’s many blunders.
It’s ambitious but with the success of this appeal they can buck the often bureaucratic and frustrating lack of monetary help for such matters.