A LANDMARK Droitwich Spa hotel undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment has started an ambitious tree-planting scheme to return its grounds to the way they were more than 150 years ago.

The Chateau Impney Hotel is to return to its 19th century glory inside and out as the hotel’s new owners are planting 200 trees in the same spots they were photographed in all those years ago.

Ben Elder, general manager, said: “When the new owners took over the hotel, they knew they were buying a venue steeped in history, and vowed to restore the Chateau to its former glory. While this includes rejuvenating the interior and exterior of the iconic Chateau, they were also adamant that the grounds should not be forgotten.”

Like many of the trees originally planted on the site, the new saplings will be a mixture of ash, oak, beech and hornbeams. New hedgerows will also be introduced to the grounds, and an orchard of apples, pears and berries will be planted. Not only will the orchard help the hotel become more self-sufficient, it is hoped that it will attract more wildlife to the parkland.

Mr Elder added: “The planting programme is a big task, and it’s probably one of the largest schemes of its kind undertaken in the region in recent years.

“We are very fortunate to have the original plans of the grounds as a guideline for our planting. While the layout of the site has changed quite a lot since the plans were drawn up, our aim is to follow them as closely as possible.

“As well as planting the new trees, we are also investing in an extensive maintenance programme to repair and protect the existing trees on-site, the majority of which are hundreds of years old.”

Originally built by John Corbett in 1875 as a testament of love to his wife Anna, the construction of the Chateau totally transformed the open parkland on which it was built, introducing lakes, waterfalls, tropical gardens, and over 3,000 varieties of trees – many of which are still around today.

A renowned philanthropist, who built schools, hospitals and houses in the local area, Mr Corbett also opened up the grounds of the hotel every Wednesday so members of the public could roam freely throughout the site and enjoy the open parkland setting, which the new owners are also embracing.

“The final phase of our planting scheme will be the removal of the vast majority of fencing from the site, helping to return the grounds to the open parkland setting that was in place when the Chateau was originally built,” Mr Elder said.

“Like John Corbett, we are hoping that our guests and local people will take the opportunity to explore and enjoy the surroundings.”

The tree-planting scheme will take around two months to complete and will add to the refurbishment aimed at make the Chateau Impney one of the best hotels in the UK. The Grade II listed 106-bedroom property was bought out of administration late last year, saving 44 jobs. For more information about Chateau Impney Hotel, visit chateau-impney.com