Thursday, 22 June 2017

Painshill Walled Garden


Welcome to the blog.

I really love a walled garden, don't you?  You know it's going to be good from the outside when all you can see are the high walls and a half open door.  All the sun's warmth gets trapped in those walls and the gusty wind controlled. They probably don't stop the slugs though!

Painshill Park's walled garden was divided into two by another wall in the middle, one side fruit and vegetables, the other flowers and a permanent marquee used for weddings. What a great spot for a wedding.

I hope you've enjoyed the trip to Painshill as much as I did.  Do pay a visit if you're nearby to help support the great restoration work going on, they could do with some extra funds.

I'll leave you with a statue of Bacchus who is awaiting the restoration of his temple.


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Heading to the Gothic Tower


Thanks for popping in.

Painshill Park never seems to stop surprising, the follies are so well positioned that they are revealed slowly as you walk around this fine English landscape garden.  Next up is a mausoleum affording views over the River to a field full of cows that had obviously been lurking, waiting for me to spot them in such a pastoral scene.

Passing the cascade, we finally arrive at the five arched bridge that has been tantalising us since the Gothic Temple.  Look at that reflection.

We're not crossing over the bridge as there's a sign that says waterwheel which sounded interesting.  But hang on, what's that up the hill?

There's the waterwheel, how enormous! It was restored in 1987 and is one of the largest working wheels in the UK.  It was originally created to feed the cascade, lake and plants.

Desperate for a cup of coffee by this time, we've made a beeline for the Gothic Tower, missing out the Hermitage, for which the owner of the garden in the 1700s, Charles Hamilton, advertised for a hermit to live as a recluse there for seven years.  Before three weeks were out, legend has it that he was found drinking at the pub and was dismissed! Talking of drinking . . .

. . .  there's the café, phew!  There's another one right at the garden entrance if you don't want the long walk, or the climb to the first floor of the tower.

Suitably refreshed, it's time to bound up the steps to the top to admire the view, 99 steps from the bottom.  No need to feel wobbly at the top as the wide castellations stop you feeling that way.

We're now at the further most part of the garden and must head back along the other side of the lake, past the Temple of Bacchus which is being renovated . . .

. . . admiring the views . . .

. . . past the Turkish Tent we saw on the hill . . .

. . . back past the grotto . . .

. . .  and the Chinese Bridge.

I haven't mentioned the ice house, the keyhole plantation or the amphitheatre. So many fabulous places.  How they manage to keep the grass under control in such a huge place, I just don't know.  There are a lot of volunteers though.

There's one more hidden gem for you next time. I know, amazing isn't it!


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Crystal Grotto


Here we are again as happy as can be. 😊

We're visiting Painshill Park near Cobham and have just crossed the Chinese Bridge and are heading to the Crystal Grotto. Wow! Doesn't that sound amazing. With it being half term, they were running tours inside, what a stroke of luck.

If you zoom into the photos by clicking on them, you'll see the outside is made from limestone which is well weathered, brought to the site from elsewhere.

You can see through the archway over the lake to the other side and can glimpse the crystals hanging down inside, each of the calcite, gypsum, quartz and flourite  square crystals were fixed in place by hand.

Let's go in, being careful not to trip over in the dark or touch the crystals.  The darkness was all part of the experience.

The tunnel leads into the light filled chamber, where water trickles down creating a magical place, which turns into Santa's grotto at Christmas.  Light floods in through the archway overlooking the lake helping the crystals to sparkle. Pieces of coral and shell's decorate the chamber.

There were a few photos showing the restoration and how it was made as well as paintings of the original before it fell into decline and was abandoned.

How spectacular and such a lot of hard work to give all the visitors from the 1700s until now an unexpected and thrilling experience.

Crossing over another bridge, we're now at the head of the lake and ready to see what's round the corner. Next time!


Monday, 19 June 2017

Painshill Park


How wonderful to see you!

Isn't it exciting when you head off on an unknown bus journey into the wild blue yonder hoping the bus driver will remember to tell you when you get to your destination! You car drivers don't know what you're missing.  Even more exciting is visiting somewhere for the first time and today we're off to Painshill Park on the edge of Cobham.

It isn't a National Trust property but is held in a trust and my Artfund  card got me in at a reduced price. There's no house to view but the park offers some wonderful vistas and a café.

Before we start, here's a bit of history for you. The Honourable Charles Hamilton created Painshill,  after returning from his Grand Tours, in the naturalistic style between 1738 and 1773 as a romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of the visitor.

As a ninth son, he didn't have any inheritance so borrowed money to develop the land he had purchased for it's closeness to London, the River Mole and the variety of landscape. The soil was made fertile by growing turnips and sheep grazing.  

Despite his grand garden being admired by visitors including two American Presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton was always short of money and had to sell in 1773.  The park passed through a number of owners until 1948 when it fell into dereliction.

It wasn't until 1970 when there were rumours of development, that people began to get together to save it and in 1981 the Painshill Park Trust was formed to faithfully restore the wooded wilderness to its former glory.

Off we go.

Following the Heritage Trail which passes steeply through some woodland, you emerge high up above the River and lake, next to a vineyard.  Hamilton used to make and sell excellent sparkling wine for a profit. Such a wonderful view over the countryside.

As you turn the corner, the Gothic Temple surprises. Lets have a look.

The land just drops away below, the lake sparkling and in the distance a five arched bridge is reflected in the water.

Winding down the wooded hill past clumps of purple foxgloves, you emerge on the peninsula covered with shrubs and arrive at the Chinese Bridge.

Before we cross over, a ruined Abbey catches my eye.

Next time we'll scoot over the bridge and see what's in the distance.