Saturday 5 June 2021

Compton Verney after lockdown

It was wonderful visiting Compton Verney after lockdown - maybe I should say in-between lockdowns as I am convinced there's going to be another one, but this is not the subject of this post. We went to see two exhibitions but before that a walk around the grounds was in order.

We started walking along this path which is next to the car park.

First stop, the bird hide - no water birds on the lake

but we did see this rat looking for food in the mud

Disappointed, we continued on our way

One of Capability Brown's bridges in the distance

The lake was created by Capability Brown from a chain of five separate ponds. Brown designed the lake to look like a river that, like the park itself appeared to continue indefinitely. The lake boosts impressive views of North Park.

We soon got our first view of the house

A new addition: the wild swimming landing stage

The end of this path and our first view of the Upper Bridge. Although the bridge was constructed by Brown's builders, it was probably designed by Robert Adam, who remodelled the mansion in the 1760s. 

Four Grecian sphinxes are positioned at each end of the bridge - they were probably inspired by Adam's visit to Italy and the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures he saw there. During WWII, Compton Verney was requisitioned by the army. Soldiers used the sphinxes for target practice and in 1945 a jeep badly damaged one of the balustrades.

View from the bridge

and the other side

The bridge provides an ideal location from which to view the mansion.

One can see the other bridge from here as well

We crossed the bridge and made our way to the house

John Frankland, Untitled Boulder, 2

We looked at two exhibitions (posts to follow)

and then resumed our tour of the grounds

Ariel Schlesinger, Ways to Say Goodbye, 2019, (aluminium, steel, glass)

You can see the lake from almost anywhere on the grounds

Everything is so lush - it's not surprising given that it rained more or less non-stop during the month of May

a different view of the house

another view of the Lower Bridge

some extremely mature trees

I asked Ken to pose to demonstrate the size of this trunk

The reed bed sewage system

The remains of the old Haha

The Haha was a clever piece of landscape design used as a barrier to prevent livestock and deer entering the gardens close to the mansion without detracing from the sweeping views of the wider parkland. Originally the estate extended over the road and would have appeared as an endless expanse of land. The view is now obscured by trees and the land is privately owned.

The lilacs are out.

The small vegetable garden

and the bee hives.

A 1738 estate map shows Baroque formal gardens with symmetrical planting, geometric parterres and a central canal stretching from the mansion to the road. The 14th Baron, keen to keep up with the trends of the time, commissioned Capability Brown to create a fashionable natural garden in 1768.

Brown swept away the formal gardens and replaced them with extensive lawns interspersed with specimen trees. His West Lawn survives and has been enhanced with native wildflowers and grasses, planted in 2015 by landscape and garden designer Dan Pearson. The lawn is managed as a meadow for the spring and summer months. The hay crop is then removed and the shorter grass returns which is more in keeping with the wider Capability Brown layout.

Buttercups abound at this time of year

We had come almost full circle - the chapel on our left, but we did not go inside this time

We crossed the Northern Bridge

and arrived at the Ice House

it's very dark in here, but it photographed surprisingly well

 I love this building

This path would take us to the car park

but we made a small detour to the play and picnic area

as I wanted to walk inside the willow tunnel

and here we are. It must be enchanting in the evenings when the lights are switched on.

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