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Saturday, August 16, 2008

A hint of Former Glories

And so where to today? Given the number of dragons flitting about I should have gone to somewhere Dragony but hey I went to Hatfield Forest!

Lots of Green Woodies about and Bullfinches which was nice. The Grebe youngsters were still on the lake together with 4 adults. One adult Tern about so the youngsters (I found out there were two) and the other parent must have gone.

I was surprised to find this lot on the lake.

Caught this chap about to dive as I was drinking a cuppa.

Lots of butterflies by the shell house.

Painted Lady

Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Red Admiral

Painted Lady


This Great Grested Grebe was feeding its young.

And so where to now? I mentioned a book a while back called "The Destruction of the Country House" by Roy Strong, Marcus Binney and John Harris. Whilst glancing through last night I saw a photo of the garden at Easton Lodge with a comment "The house disappeared during the second world war and the gardens no longer exist.".

Now the Gardens of Easton Lodge do exist. And they happen to be a few miles up the road.

There had been a deer park at Easton Lodge since 1302 and in 1590 Elizabeth I gave the estate of 10,000 acres to Henry Maynard (Lord Burleigh's principle assistant). In 1597 Maynard built an Elizabethan House.

The House was destroyed by fire in 1847. The house was uninsured and replaced by a new Victorian House. In 1918 fire devasted the house again when a sick monkey (yes a monkey) was hospitalised in the night nursery. It was given a coal fire and a blanket, it put the blanket on the fire and ran around the house with it!

Only part of the house was rebuilt. The house was in the hands of the war ministry in the war. In 1950 the owner pulled the house down and the gardens were left to their fate.

Over the years the estate was cut down from its initial 10,000 acres. Only 1500 acres of woodland, farmland and part of the garden remained and this was sold to Land Securities PLC in 2004.

The most famous owner of the House was Daisy Countess of Warwick and "friend" of Edward VII. She entertained lavishly at Easton Lodge and Warwick Castle until 1895 when she discovered Socialism and spent the rest of her life supporting good causes. She died in 1938.

It was her who commissioned Harold Peto to construct the gardens. These must have been superb at their height in about 1920, with French Style trelliage Pergpas and the sunken Italian Gardens.

In 1922 a snow storm wrecked the pergolas and these were never rebuilt. When Daisy's son died in 1960 much of the stonework including most of the Italian Garden was sold off for ..... £350. Criminal.

And there it would have ended but in December 1971 the Creaseys arrived. They created a garden around the west wing on the concrete and rubble of Easton Lodge and in 1993 acquired 4.5 acres of "overgrowth and junge" and began to restore the garden. In 2004 the Easton Lodge Preservation Trust was formed. Its aim is to fully restore the gardens. The Creasey's retired in 2007.

Ok I have gone on a bit ;) some photos.

I won't try and convince you this is one of the great gardens... its not. It desperately needs money. Biddulph Grange was also in an awful state in the 1970's and with the backing of the National Trust today it looks stunning. It will take years for Easton to be back to anything like its former glory but you have to admire the perservation of the people doing it. And if you are in the area a visit would help it.

Oh sorry I've gone on a bit and posted more photos than I intended!! Hey ho.


oldcrow61 said...

Awww, the baby ducks are so precious. The art work in the Gardens of Easton Lodge is quite interesting. Wonderful pictures of the butterflies and bees. Looks like you put in a full day.

Island Rambles Blog said...

Oh I just loved this one Pete, Easton Lodge I think it is called, I got a bit confused but I just fell in love with this place and am fond of places even if they are a bit gone wild by your standards, the duckies, butterflies and bees and flowers all so lovely...I think I will re-read it all now.

Pete said...

OC - thought you might enjoy it.

Islands - I've made it a tadge clearer. The first bit ducks nad buterflies are at Hatfield Forest.

The flower and bees are at Easton.

Tricia said...

Being the sucker that I am for wood and wooden sculpture, I find the "girl" carving fascinating but the "hands" are just great.

Goodly selection of flutters too and the expression of the parental duck "these are MY children :D)!

Kate said...

Aaaw, little ducklings :-) They are quite small for this time of year aren't they?

Janine said...

Fascinating sculpture. I found the one with the ferns interesting in the muted green and silver tones.

Mo said...

Could you send a green woodie up here please, I've still never seen one! The peacock butterfly is gorgeous - and the grebe photos.