Painshill Park was created between 1738 and 1773 by Charles Hamilton, a painter, plantsman and brilliantly gifted and imaginative designer, he dedicated his creative genius to the layout and composition of a unique landscape garden.
He acquired the land in 1738, which over the years built up to over 250 acres. Painshill was created as a romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of the visitors, as Hamilton was heavily involved with the picturesque movement. The gardens were divided into two parts; the ornamental pleasure grounds to the south, with the lake as the central feature, and an adjoining crescent of open parkland to the north in a free and natural style.
We visited the park today, and thoroughly enjoyed walking between each of the themed garden features, such as the Gothic tower, Chinese bridge and crystal grotto.
The brick-built Grotto is built with limestone, lined with calcite, gypsum, quartz and other minerals. It was constructed by grotto maker Joseph lane with a design by Hamilton himself. The dark mysterious tunnel full of light-catching crystals leads to a large open chamber with water cascading from two alcoves in the lake. They have been restoring the grotto since 1988. The roof of the main chamber was damaged during the second world war when the lead was taken to finance a VE day party by the nearby army garrisoned at the house. A major archaeological dig in the 80s revealed the exciting range of crystals used in the original construction, and all the original water features.
In 1987 English Heritage offered a grant towards the restoration, and the work and preservation has continued ever since. I found this a beautiful, unique space, and It's the first grotto I have experienced. A really special little place.
We also joined in with a spot of 'pond-dipping', I was lucky enough to catch a pond snail and a froglet, such fun!
A highly recommended day out (apart from the tearoom....don't ask! Send in Country house Rescue to sort that out!)
Hope that was enjoyable, fancy building a grotto sometime?? Let me know.