A Little History

Almost all the land in the area was owned from feudal times by two families – the Hornyolds and the Lechmeres.

Rhydd Gardens started life as the kitchen gardens for Rhydd Court.

Rhydd Court itself was built by Edmund Lechmere (1710-1805) around 1805 as a replacement for Severn End, the original family seat, which was considered too old fashioned at the time, and despite extensive fire damage in 1896 still exists to the south of us and is occupied by the present Nicolas Lechmere.

In 1915 the Lechmeres allowed Rhydd Court to be used as a Red Cross hospital and moved back to Severn End.

Rhydd Court itself was partially destroyed by fire in 1922. It was rebuilt to almost the same plans and sold again in 1924.

In the Second World War, it was used to house evacuees from London and in 1952, Rhydd Court became a school which, via various ownerships, it is to this day.

Rhydd gardens was probably sold off around 1915 and the original house would have been a small two bedroom cottage originally built for the head gardener.

Dorothy Bowen who still lives in the village remembers the house still being like that during the Second World War by which time it had become a market garden supplying fruit and flowers. The long building on the south side of the courtyard was used as a mushroom house.

The packing house was used, as the name suggests, to pack up the produce ready for market in Worcester and Birmingham.

According to one gruesome newspaper report, one of the owners during the market garden era was declared bankrupt and subsequently found dead in one of the wells.

Latterly Rhydd Gardens ceased to be a commercial garden and later owners added significantly to the house.

Originally the gardens had extensive greenhouses heated by fires set into the walls in all three walled areas. Those in the south walled garden went long ago, those in the courtyard lasted, at least partially, into the 1980s. The last remaining greenhouse, in the main garden, was in danger of falling down when we moved here in December 2013, we have since restored it, replacing some 4000 panes of glass, all cut by hand.

All round the walls were fruit trees, lead labels showing the variety were attached to the walls and you can still see many of the original labels in place. We have reinstated many of the trees in the last couple of years. One apple variety “Rhydd Keeper” was apparently developed here we would like to have one to add to our collection, but so far it has eluded us.