Painshill Park25th September 2015 • Places to Visit • Stephanie Donaldson
It’s often the case (for me anyway) that gardens that are quite nearby get overlooked – I think it’s the thought that going there doesn’t need much planning compared with many of the far flung places I go to, so it can wait until another day. Another day finally arrived for Painshill Park and I finally made it to this historically very important 18th century landscape park with its series of wonderful follies.
It had its heyday between 1740 and 1773 when Charles Hamilton created the ornamental pleasure grounds, vineyard, follies, lake and parkland that eventually bankrupted him and forced him to sell. Over the intervening centuries it fell into greater and greater disrepair and it wasn’t until the 1980s that its restoration began. By this time its setting had become suburban and the A3 and M25 are close by, so it is quite astonishing to turn off a busy road, walk over a pedestrian bridge and find yourself in a Grade 1 listed parkland. Restoration is an ongoing process, but now most of the follies restored and the landscape has been returned to its former glory, this is a wonderful place to stroll around on a sunny autumn day. The Grotto is dark, mysterious and magical with every single crystal fixed individually to restore it to its original 18th century condition
Do allow plenty of time though – I didn’t get all the way round, but on the plus side that does give me an excuse to return.