Continuing to describe Rumwoldstow as we first took possession, in 2016 (or 916 AD if you are following the history of Rumwoldstow), let me show you some pictures of what is now the young orchard. This is a squareish bit of land to the north of the walled garden which had been planted with a mix of native trees but had been gradually overshadowed by a very tall leilandii hedge to the south, willow to the west and a mixed hedge to the right. The north side had been devastated by the council as part of a plan to build a flood defence along that line, which never actually happened (lots of local politics there!). So we were left with this dark site, partly occupied by a very large willow and a huge sycamore, all the remaining trees leaning desperately northwards trying to get to the light, and then a barren area covered in piles of woodchip. Plus a mound of burned wreckage where the previous owner had burned a lot of inappropriate possessions in what seemed to be a fit of pique – including mattresses, electrical items, entire filing cabinets, cupboards full of clothes…
So here are a bunch of photos to give an idea of how it looked then! First, not quite a 360 degree panorama but this view from the north west shows the mix of blasted heath and deep shadow that we started with. The brook separates the orchard site from Lake Meadow which runs down to the Cherwell (if you ignore the railway line).
Back in 2016, Rumwoldstow was not even an idea. What we had was a walled garden built inside the shell of a breezeblock barn, and to the north a roughly square patch of land overshadowed on three sides by leilandii, willow and rampant hedge. The garden had a certain dishevelled charm but there was nowhere you could sit or grow fruit or other plants, and there was an awful lot of caryx grass and ivy. And to the south were two very large self-seeded sycamore trees, which shaded much of the garden for most of the day.
Above is a panorama of the walled garden as we first encountered it, back in August 2016 (916 AD in the history of Rumwoldstow). This would be just prior to the refounding of the monastery.
I think the original design must have been a Japanese-inspired garden with rockeries, but it was all so overgrown that the effect was lost. The outbuilding was leaky and had weird alcoves and internal fittings left over from some previous incarnation, perhaps dairy-related, when this was a working farm and the outbuilding was a lean-to on the side of a barn. Lots of agricultural heritage!