Badger Dingle, north east of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, was created by Isaac Hawkins Browne in the 1780s and ‘90s. He constructed a new mansion, Badger Hall (demolished 1950s), to the designs of James Wyatt whilst at the same time employing William Emes, and probably his associate John Webb, to create a pleasure ground. Lakes were created in the valley bottom and a circuit walk took visitors through the ‘ornamented cultivated side’ of the valley, which looked across to the ‘purely sylvan’ scene of the opposite bank. An early account describes a picturesque scene of alpine planting and colourful shrubs.
Throughout the century it was open to tourists, but by 1890 public days were restricted and visitors had to apply in advance to the then owner, Col. Capel Cure. Soon after visitors were banned; their habit of digging up flowers and ferns was no longer to be tolerated and Badger Dingle was closed to the public ‘on account of the ravages of depredators’.
The ‘ornamented’ side of the valley had a temple for refreshments, a rotunda and a rock tunnel. Both of the buildings are attributed to Wyatt and all three features survive today. The temple is in particularly good condition as it is in the care of the excellent Landmark Trust and provides a romantic (in both senses of the word) retreat for two. Known originally as the Doric Temple it was later called the Birdhouse. Today it is simply The Temple.
Happily the dingle once again welcomes visitors and there are footpaths through the woods and around the ponds.