One Mans Vision

Taking advantage of the recent nice weather, Mr PP and I visited Painshill Park landscape garden near  Cobham in Surrey.  The gardens are owned by Elmbridge Borough Council and managed by the Painshill Trust and have had quite a chequered history since the original gardens of 200 acres were owned and laid out by it’s creator Charles Hamilton in the 1800’s. Painshill was created in the naturalistic style between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon, Charles Hamilton (9th son and 14th child of the 6th Earl of Abercorn).  Brilliantly imaginative, Hamilton used contrasts in architectural styling and landforms to create a stunning romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of the visitor.  These were not private gardens, but were created with the intention that people should be able to visit and marvel at their beauty.  Today the gardens are comprised of 158 acres of the original gardens and have been steadily restored by the Trust to how they would most likely have looked when they were first created.

The visitor is able to walk freely around the gardens with suggested routes including 2 accessible routes, available on a leaflet.  The garden follows the route of the River Mole, with it’s own large lake, small vineyard, alpine valley, woodland areas and assorted exotic features.  It has been awarded full collection status for the John Bartram Heritage Collection of North American trees and shrubs, is Grade 1 Listed and has been awarded theEuropa Nostra medal for it’s exemplary restoration.  We spent about 4 hours walking round and taking in the stunning views of not only the garden, but also across the Surrey Hills and beyond.


Entry to the gardens is over this footbridge across the River Mole.


The bluebells were a bit past their best but still quite stunning


Looking back (from the Turkish Tent) towards the Gothic Temple.  The narrow opening of the pillared arches frame a sort of living painting of some stunning views.  The actual building reminds me of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House at nearby  Twickenham.


The lake stretches away from the Gothic temple , the restored Five Arch bridge visible in the distance.

water wheel

The Waterwheel was restored in 1987 and is one of the largest working waterwheels in the UK today.  It was originally built to feed the Cascade and Lake and to also provide enough water for all of the plants.


A magical fairy tale tower hidden deep in woodland.  The Gothic Tower had 99 steps to the roof where on a clear day Windsor Castle and the City of London are visible.  Sadly it was a bit too hazy when we visited but the views were still quite far reaching.  There is a small cafe on the first floor, and we were the second customers ever to make use of it as it had only opened on the morning we visited.  “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair…”


Looking like a set design from Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, this is the view from the lake of the Grotto.  The Grotto is a special feature built from Oolitic Limestone which gives it that somewhat crumbling appearance and has been covered inside with 100’s of 1000’s of crystals of calcite, gypsum, quartz and flourite.  It was built over several years by  professional Grotto builder, Joseph Lane and dates back to about 1760.

inside grotto

Looking out from the inside of the Grotto


About paisleypedlar

Artist, Sewist, sometime Cyclist and Arm Chair Activist
This entry was posted in Country Houses, education, Expeditions and adventures, Fairy tale Houses, gardens, gothic revival, gothic style, Horace Walpole, memorabilia, Museums and Galleries, national trust, ostentation, Quirky things, Twickenham, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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