Back to Croome Court after 30 years


How it was: Croome Court in the 1760s

Yesterday I drove the whole family up to Croome Court,  the 18th century country estate of the sixth Earl of Coventry. Gardens and architectural creations by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and interiors by Robert Adam. Beautiful place, and especially so if you were part of the English aristocracy in the 1760s when it was built. Then it was new, freshly appointed, decorated, and splendidly enjoyable. Those were its glorious days. Since then it has passed through several owners and the struggle is on to restore it fully and conserve it for future generations.

That is why, more than 250 years later, the National Trust are valiantly doing a splendid job of caring for it with funding from English Heritage and National Lottery and other good souls who wish to preserve the beautiful things of the past for the education and upliftment of people in the future.

I would like to say that I played my own, very small, part in preserving Croome Court some years ago. I and many others raised funds for its upkeep when, for a brief span of five years, it became known as ‘Chaitanya College at Croome Court’ and the headquarters of ISKCON in Britain. Now that period – 1979 to 1984 – is being remembered as the current guardians of Croome honour the small part in history that the devotees of Krishna played.

How it was yesterday: A little overcast in this shot of the back entrance, but lots of sunshine throughout the day brought in 900 over the weekend for a festival marking the devotees life there, 1979-1984

It was a little disconcerting to find one’s youth consigned to a museum display board complete with ‘audio memories’ of former devotee residents. That too, amongst other similar displays portraying Croome life in the 1760s and 1800s! But I must be realistic and remember my age. 1979 is a long time ago if you’re a twenty-something National Trust volunteer born in the mid-80s!

This is the second year that the National Trust and a committed team of Krishna devotees headed up by former residents Sripati and Tribhangananda have organised a ‘Hare Krishna Festival’ in the grounds. All the usual things we do for the public, but with around 900 visitors over the weekend. A great addition to our outreach and to a crowd that may not cross our path too often. But the slightly incongruous mix actually worked. We certainly felt at home there – back at home – and my kids were delighted to finally see the place they’d heard about. It was myself and my wife’s first visit there for 30 years. Walking history, we are.

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4 Comments

Filed under Community, Journal

4 responses to “Back to Croome Court after 30 years

  1. DavidC

    Visiting Croome touched me deeply.

    Funnily enough, my Dad’s a member of the National Trust, and this morning he received a donations request letter through for… the Red Wing at Croome Court!

  2. Pancha Tattva dasa

    I spent a few days there some time in December of 1982, on my way to India with a group of Detroit devotees. My memories are a little vague. I remember the extraordinary altar, a Ratha cart design. Very nice! I remember a great hall where oil paintings of past residents hung on the walls. One lady depicted there with heavy makeup, I was told, died of lead poisoning. I was thinking that perhaps my British hosts were spinning yarns!

    Some devotees told me the place was haunted, but I wasn’t bothered.

    • Yes, those paintings are all in safe storage now, pending restoration. I must say that devotees were, during their time at Croome Court, quite responsible custodians of British history. More fervent converts to Vaishnavism might have taken down all the paintings, but we made sure they were cared for.

      And yes, I do believe that all residents of the place have testified that it is haunted – perhaps by the persons depicted in the paintings!

      • Madhusudan Das

        I was on the bhakti course of 1980 and yes it was haunted I remember waking up at 1pm because I had a trouble sleep and decided to shower and chant some rounds down stairs and I am sure I was been follow as I walk around chanting, at one point I started to pray to Lord Narsingha Dev for protection. Good Days

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