A NATIONAL Trust site near Worcester is inviting residents to explore its 200-year-old underground tunnels this summer.
Rescued from ruin by owners Chris and Karen Cronin, the tunnels at Croome have only recently been restored as part of a larger restoration project of greenhouses, borders and working vegetable plots.
Now families are being encouraged to discover the underground labyrinth of tunnels in one of Europe’s largest privately owned Walled Gardens at the National Trust site.
The tunnels were originally constructed to protect and maintain the hot water pipes which carried heat from the boiler house to the array of nearby glass houses.
Approximately 35m long, the main tunnel can be walked through in less than a minute.
Visitors can descend a flight of steps in the now fully restored fig house, before winding their way through the dimly lit tunnels to the boiler house.
Adventurous youngsters will be given a ‘I survived the Croome tunnels’ sticker to show off their bravery upon completion.
Mr Cronin said: “The red brick heating tunnels, which run underneath the glass houses, are a great example of the ingenuity and pioneering spirit that existed within the Walled Gardens during the early 1800s.
“Since that time technology has moved on a great deal and the tunnels have become redundant, at least as far as their intended purpose goes.
“When we first discovered them, we had hours of fun disappearing and reappearing in a different part of the garden. Now it’s great to see kids of all ages enjoying the fun whilst exploring our very own underworld.”
The Walled Gardens open from 11am to 5pm every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday until the end of September. Entrance costs £5.
Croome’s park and lakeside are open from 10am to 5.30pm and Croome Court is open from 11am to 4.30pm every day.
Call the National Trust site on 01905 371006 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome to apply or for more information.