Historical Background - Ingestre Orangery
The history and background of Ingestre Orangery (Grade ll Listed) is inextricably linked to Ingestre Hall, a Grade ll* listed building, and the adjoining Ingestre Church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The latter was built in 1676 by Walter Chetwynd (d.1692/3) and is of national importance, as indicated by its Grade 1 listing.
This wonderful group of buildings are all approached at the end of a lane that holds a series of Grade ll listed buildings; Ingestre Old Stables (late 17th century), Ingestre New Stables (1885) and Home Farm (c1820). Nearby, is Ingestre Pavilion (1752) a Grade ll Landmark Trust property in Ingestre Wood.
Ingestre Orangery is just one of a unique grouping of 17th, 18th and 19th century buildings set within an Arcadian landscape. It is a hidden gem, sadly neglected and decaying. It is the only listed building that has not been sensitively restored to its former glory.
Ingestre Hall was built in 1613 by Sir Walter Chetwynd (d.1638 - grandfather of Walter, the church builder) on the site of an earlier manor house and occupied by the Chetwynd family until 1767. It then passed to a cadet strand of the Talbot family following the marriage of Catherine Chetwynd (d.1785) to John Talbot (d.1756). It was this Catherine, who commissioned the building of Ingestre Orangery c1770. Her son, Charles, became the first Chetwynd-Talbot.
Ingestre Orangery was built by Samuel and Joseph Wyatt after the designs by James Athenian Stuart for the Grade ll* Listed Orangery at nearby Blithfield Hall. The Orangery faces south and is an Athenian style building with a temple structure at both ends with a Doric colonnade. It is built of brick; the front of the south-east elevation and the return elevations being clad in limestone ashlar. The rear elevation is bare brick.
The building has pitched glazed roofs and the temple facades have a pair of niches and pilasters on either side of a central doorway with a fluted frieze above. The building comprises a single open area; nine equal bays of south facing window with a wider pedimented pavilion at each end. The north, east and west walls are blank.
A fully glazed pitched roof spans north-south throughout the main area and east-west, plus metal framed windows. Both of these features are thought to date from the 19thC. Brickwork returns at a high level to separate the wings from the central zone. The floor is of sandstone with an integrated grille.
A park boundary was added in the early 18th century and still survives in places. The 27 acre park was landscaped by Capability Brown in 1756 with new walks, a haha and a pleasure ground. All the formal gardens were removed in 1789. By 1815 ‘The Long Walk’, a sloping pathway, was created - leading from the north garden to the Orangery and lined with Irish Yew trees brought in 1810 by the second Earl Talbot. This provides a wonderful access path to the Orangery.
The Orangery was used for growing exotic fruit and plants by the Chetwynd-Talbots and subsequently the Earls of Shrewsbury until 1959 when the estate was broken up and sold. Ingestre Hall, Ingestre Orangery and the surrounding land were bought by West Bromwich Council and became a residential arts centre for children. Consequently, the tradition of the promotion of the arts, established by the Earls of Shrewsbury, has been continued.
The Hall opened its doors to the first groups of children in 1960. At that time the Orangery was used for growing plants for the grounds. Local children were also allowed to use the swimming pool in the surrounding garden.
Local Government reorganisation in 1974 brought certain changes. In 1983, Sandwell Metropolitain Borough Council restored both Ingestre Hall and its Orangery. The plaque commemorating this success and commitment to the estate can be seen at Ingeste Hall.
Since then, due to finance constraints, the Hall was prioritised as a residential arts centre for children and the Orangery has been maintained to a minimum standard. The Orangery is now in a poor state and unused. Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council are the current owners and hold frequent discussions about the financial viability of their buildings. They have granted Friends of Ingestre Orangery a 30 year lease with a peppercorn rent, so that it can be restored to a sustainable use by the community.