Head Gardener, Martin Gee
Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year, not only do we have beautiful colours to admire but our Walled Garden is brimming with apples, quince, cobnuts, chestnuts and pears – which the chefs are putting to delicious use in the House and Granary Kitchens.
On Sunday 9th November I will take visitors to the estate on a guided walk through the Park taking in the splendour of Capability Brown’s 18th century vision in all its seasonal glory – with a special sight to see at the end. The walk starts off at the Granary and we will make our way up to the Obelisk and past the Knoll Tower taking in some great views across the estate.
We will then make our way over to Temple Wood, one of only five ‘Pleasure Grounds’ laid out by Brown in the 1770’s and where we have undertaken a lot of work in the last ten years to restore this area, and the park, to his original vision.
I have been working with the trustees and our landscape management agency on this lengthy project which will culminate in 2016 when we will celebrate 300 years since Capability Brown’s birth as part of a nationwide celebration of his work.
In recent years we have cleared rhododendrons, dredged Temple Pool and opened up views through to the landscape. There is still a lot to do and I will talk about our latest plans on the walk.
We will also take a look at the newly restored Cascade Garden, built in the 1930’s in memory of Lady Joan Bridgeman who tragically died following a horse riding accident.
At the end of the walk we will take a look inside the Temple of Diana, an integral part of the landscape and a very rare opportunity to see inside this unique building.
As a garden building, the Temple of Diana is unusual. Whilst garden temples were fashionable statements of a gentleman’s classical education, which they would have seen whilst on their Grand Tour’s around Europe in the 18th century – Diana is an unusual dedication.
Sir Henry Bridgeman, who worked with both Brown on the landscape and James Paine on the follies, was a keen huntsman so perhaps it is not a surprise to see the Roman goddess of hunting adorning the walls of the circular tea room inside the Temple.
The Temple was very much a multipurpose building. The South front is a three-bay glazed loggia which was intended as a greenhouse, for the cultivation of exotic plants and to give spectacular views across Brown’s landscape. Behind this is the Tea Room, where the Lady of the House would take tea. As tea was a luxury item in the 18th century the Temple had its own dairy in the cool basement and accommodation for the dairy maid in the upper floors.
The Temple’s north side, was intended to be seen from across Temple Pool, was inspired by Andrea Palladio’s 16th century Venetian works and therefore giving the building two very different architectural styles which would be seen by the visitor depending on which angle they were approaching the Temple.