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.