At the end of the 19th century, Virginia creeper was planted around the walls of the castle. It grew so well that much of the east and south faces of the castle, the Porte Cochère and Portcullis were shrouded in a lattice of branches, with leaves which turned a wonderful red in the autumn. The bad news was that many of the leaves were blown onto the roofs and had to be swept and bagged up ideally before but occasionally after they blocked the drains. The branches also damaged the stonework, although less so than ivy would have, and one architectural historian commented, with obvious disapproval, that it looked as if Eastnor had a beard.
It was not hard to decide to kill the creeper. It was harder to work out how to remove it. First, the late Fred Dibnah, came to the rescue. On one of his visits to Eastnor, he suspended his bosun’s chair from one of the turrets and scraped the growth off as he lowered himself down. He was very effective, and there is a photograph of him at work in the Octagon Saloon. Sadly, he could not stay to finish the job.
We are now using Wallwalkers, a local firm, who specialise in accessing awkward parts of buildings. They are using a similar approach to Fred, as the attached image shows. We are looking forward to putting pour appearance back to the look originally intended by my ancestors for visitors to enjoy at our Easter opening.