Thursday, 29 December 2011
On the hill behind Wimpole Hall stand the imposing remains of a castle. At least, that's what you're supposed to think. It was very much to romantic taste to have a ruined castle overlooking ones estate and if there wasn't a convenient ruin then you had one built. If you wanted a true top-notch ruin then you commissioned Sanderson Miller, the best architect of romantic ruins to design it. And that is exactly what the 1st Earl of Hardwicke did in 1759. It was built in 1770 when Capability Brown, the greatest landscape gardener of the time, landscaped the park.
I began my walk at the Hall itself in blustery, drizzly weather, crossing the wide pastures and descending to the lake.
Every garden had to have a lake too and, you've guessed it, there wasn't one handy so the Earl had one made by having a small stream dammed. In fact they dammed it twice to create two lakes; they didn't do things by halves. Mandarin Ducks appear on the lake from time to time but today there were only Moorhens, Canada Geese, Tufted Ducks. a single Pochard and a couple of young Swans.
The wind began to break up the cloud layer as I neared the ruin, or more correctly, the folly since that's the correct name for such artificial structures.
The National Trust, who own the estate, won't let you get too near to the folly as it is in real danger of becoming a proper ruin and falling down on unsuspecting visitors.
The observant will realise that you were never intended to get close; for, although the front of the building is of fine stone, its backside is shamefully made from cheap bricks!
I continued on my way in the rain for the clouds had now rolled in again and reached an area of woodland known as The Belts. Woodland was another important element in the ideal Picturesque Landscape. Do I need to tell you that the wood was created to complete the illusion?
Flocks of small birds made their way through the trees and a Buzzard cried overhead. But when not gazing upwards through the binoculars I was kneeling in the damp leaves photographing little details like these fungi which resembled butterflies perching on the rotting wood...