The Birdhouse

Badger Dingle, Shropshire

Overview

The Birdhouse was designed in 1783 by the great architect James Wyatt in a natural setting so spectacular it could epitomise the Picturesque movement. Today it is a romantic hideaway for two.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • RemoteRemote
  • ShowerShower

Beds 1 Double

Sleeps
2
4 nights from
£291 equivalent to £36.38 per person, per night

Gentle beauty funded by heavy industry

The spectacular Birdhouse was designed by James Wyatt for Isaac Hawkins Browne, a wealthy iron and coal industrialist. This funded Browne’s Grand Tour of Europe and he returned with antiquarian tastes to inspire the creation of his Shropshire estate. Our secluded Landmark for two is its epitome, perched above a natural ravine known as the Dingle, through which flows a tributary of the River Whorfe. The valley’s natural qualities were enhanced by a pupil of Capability Brown, William Emes, and later by John Webb.

Nestled in a serene landscape 

You can still explore the Dingle today. A network of paths runs along three long pools, with an icehouse, a Rotunda and caves. The Birdhouse remained in use until the 1930s but when Badger Hall was demolished in 1952 it fell into dereliction, reduced to the sort of ruin that no doubt inspired its form in the first place. We rechristened the building the Birdhouse, its original 18th-century name. Whether this name arose from its spectacular perch among the trees, or because it hangs like a birdcage above the ravine, or because of the wonderful birdlife you watch from its loggia, we leave you to decide.

'Fabulous little folly is the perfect hideaway...blissful solitude'

From the logbook

Floor Plans

Map & local info

The Birdhouse overlooks Badger Dingle, a picturesque ravine in a woodland setting on the edge of Badger village. There are good walks around the Dingle with plenty of wildlife to look out for. See if you can find the Rotunda, icehouse, tunnel and cascades. Badger is a small and pretty village in the middle of a triangle formed by Telford, Bridgnorth and Wolverhampton.

Ironbridge and its many museums are just five miles away, including the Tar Tunnel, Coalport China Museum, Blists Hill Victoria Town and the Museum of the Gorge. Further afield is Dudmaston Hall (10 miles), a house that provides a classical setting for a collection of modern and contemporary art. Entry to the Coalport China Museum's exhibitions and to Dudmaston Hall is free with a National Art Pass, which enables its members to enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions.

The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it at artfund.org/national-art-pass.

The following attractions are also worth a visit:
Bridgnorth
Severn Valley Railway
David Austin Roses
Dudley Zoo
Black Country Living Museum
Boscobel
Upton Cressett Hall
Wightwick Manor (NT)
Attingham Park (NT)
Shrewsbury
Weston Park
Royal Air Force Museum at Albrighton

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.  

Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Acessed from the public highway, through a walled garden and down a tree-lined drive.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Albrighton - 5.4 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is parking for two cars adjacent to the Landmark.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    Electric panel heaters
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker and a microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a freestanding shower
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    There is a curving internal staircase from the upper down to the lower level. Externally there is a stone staircase which can be slippery when wet.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is no garden but there is a small balustraded terrace at the upper level. You are surrounded by wonderful woodland walks.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    No
  • Can I access the roof?

    No.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • What time can I arrive and what time do I have to depart from the Landmark?

    Arrival is from 4pm and departure is by 10am.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there toilet rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide toilet rolls and a bar of soap per basin, but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.
History

An almost impossibly Picturesque setting

Sometimes a single building can epitomise an entire aesthetic movement. The Birdhouse is one such, a Classically-inspired pavilion in an almost impossibly Picturesque setting. It was designed c.1783 by the master of such ornament, architect James Wyatt, for a wealthy Midlands industrialist who was inspired by his travels on the Grand Tour. The Birdhouse is perched above a natural ravine known as the Dingle through which flows a tributary of the River Whorfe, its natural qualities enhanced by a pupil of Capability Brown, William Emes.

The owner of this Badger estate was Isaac Hawkins Browne, who had made his money in the Midlands coal- and iron ore fields. This funded a Grand Tour, and he returned with antiquarian tastes. As part of William Emes’ gentle reworking of the landscape features, Browne also commissioned a pavilion in the Greek Revival style to overlook the scene from James Wyatt, one of the most prolific architects of the Georgian period . Though its exterior is fairly plain, the salon within was elegantly decorated. Below was a service floor, originally with a hot air heating system based on a Roman hypocaust. 

Later, Emes’ partner John Webb still further enhanced the Dingle, damming the stream to form three long pools, creating a network of paths and adding other features : an icehouse, Rotunda and caves. All these are there to explore today.

The Birdhouse remained in use until the 1930s, by then under the Capel Cure family, who maintained an endearing tradition of an annual tea party there at which the Capel Cures waited on their servants. Eventually, the building fell into complete dereliction, reduced to the sort of ruin that no doubt inspired its form in the first place. 

For a short history of The Birdhouse please click here.

To read the full history album for The Birdhouse please click here.

Restoration

A triumphant reconstruction

The saviour of The Birdhouse was not, this time, Landmark, but the Vivat Trust. Vivat were a buildings at risk charity founded in 1981 with a purpose and operation very similar to our own. Sadly, they went into liquidation in 2015.

Vivat started work on The Birdhouse in 1995, achieving a triumphant reconstruction and restoration through a near total rebuild.

Twenty years later after Vivat’s sad demise, the owner of the Badger Dingle estate was happy to sign a new lease on The Birdhouse (known to Vivat as The Temple) with Landmark. Given its provenance and the excellence of its restoration, we were equally happy to take it on, not least to help perpetuate the legacy of such a worthy ally as the Vivat Trust in the fight for the preservation of Britain’s historic buildings.

To avoid confusion with other ‘temples’ already in the Landmark portfolio, we decided to revert to its original name, the Birdhouse. Whether this name arose from its spectacular perch among the trees, or because it hangs like a birdcage above the ravine, or because of the wonderful birdlife you can watch from its loggia, we leave to our visitors to decide.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.