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Matt Baker and Ellie Harrison are in the Black Country, where they visit 18th-century English gardens Hagley Park and the Leasowes and the mysterious Kinver Rock Houses.

Countryfile is in the heart of England on the beautiful borderland of the Black Country, where Matt Baker explores two of the most important 18th-century English gardens - Hagley Park and the Leasowes, both of which are going through major restoration projects. He discovers the history of the great men behind the gardens, George Lyttelton and William Shenstone and gets stuck in restoring the cascades at Hagley Park. With a little help from Ellie Harrison he adds the finishing touches by releasing 100 golden rudd into the lake.

Ellie explores the mysterious Kinver Rock Houses. Inhabited right up to the 1960s, they are now a haven for wildlife. She also discovers how the rich geology of the area sparked the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, Adam Henson's competitive streak comes to the fore when he and his son Alfie take their poultry to the Cheshire Show.

Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the greatest threats to modern human health. Charlotte Smith investigates whether giving medication to farm animals is making the problem worse.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 15 Sep 2014 02:25

The Leasowes restoration

Matt Baker visits the first of two green oases located in the heart of the Black Country.  The Grade 1 listed gardens and parkland of Leasowes in Halesowen are undergoing constant management in the hands of its team of wardens.  Matt finds out about its creator William Shenstone, a poet whose vision it was to construct a garden that worked in tandem with nature.  The park is open all year round so Matt finds out what it takes to sustain such a lush natural habitat and beautiful landscape for everyone to enjoy.

Find out more about The Leasowes 

Geology and industry

Ellie Harrison explores the legacy of the industrial revolution and considers how nature is reclaiming the landscape. The rich geology of the Black Country gave rise to a surge in manufacturing as the area became the “workshop of the world” and factories and furnaces dotted the skyline.  Now, the region has some wonderful green spaces and awe-inspiring underground worlds that exist as an ideal escape from the urban sprawl.


Find out more about the tunnels near Dudley

Poultry show

Adam Henson and his son Alfie head to the Cheshire County Show with some chickens. They’re entering some of the farm’s rare breeds into the poultry competitions. Each one needs a good scrub and grooming before they are fit to compete and with more than 700 birds at this year’s show Adam and Alfie’s chickens will have to be something special if they are going to take away a prize. 

The Hagley Estate

Matt Baker discovers another landscape created in the 18th century, Hagley Park. He meets with its owner, Lord Cobham, and the Head of Landscape, Joe Hawkins, who are in the middle of a massive restoration project to bring the park back to its former glory.  Matt gets involved with putting an ancient cascade back together and sees some of the most breathtaking views in the Black Country.  Later, Ellie joins Matt, Chris and Joe to release some of the one hundred traditional Golden Rudd fish into the estates’ newly restored pond.


Find out more about Hagley Park

Animal antibiotics

Resistance to antibiotics has been described as one of the greatest threats to modern human health. The more they are used, the greater the chance that the bacteria they are supposed to kill will actually become immune to their effects. But concern about the overuse of antibiotics isn’t confined to human health, some feel that the use of these drugs on farm animals is also contributing to the problem. Charlotte Smith asks whether we should now be dramatically reducing the use of antibiotics on British farms. 

The Kinver Rock Houses

In Staffordshire, Ellie Harrison takes a trip to an ever-popular tourist spot for Black Country residents, Kinver Edge.  With archaeologist Edmund Simons, Ellie unearths some extraordinary homes and finds out about their ancient history.  Then David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation for the National Trust, explains how the trust is protecting the residents of the present day.  Nik Novak, whose family lived in the rock houses, tells Ellie about his experiences growing up in this special community.

Find out more about Kinver Edge


Role Contributor
Presenter Matt Baker
Presenter Ellie Harrison
Presenter Adam Henson
Presenter Charlotte Smith
Executive Producer William Lyons
Series Producer Joanna Brame