Arch, architecture, aviary, Derbyshire, eyecatcher, Folly, landscape garden, Temple

Rex Whistler and Renishaw, Derbyshire: panoramas and papier-mâché.

Eighty years ago this month Sir Osbert Sitwell and his good friend Rex Whistler were discussing how materials such as papier-mâché, much used in theatrical set construction, could be used in the ‘arts of landscaping and garden design’. Once the war was over they planned to erect a dramatic eye-catcher at Sir Osbert’s Renishaw home. But two months after their meeting came tragic news: in July 1944 Whistler was killed in action in France.

Arch, architecture, Cleveland, country house, Dovecote, garden history, landscape, landscape garden, North Yorkshire, Temple

The Pigeon Cote, Kirkleatham, North Yorkshire

In 1934 a local paper published a ‘Cleveland Ramble’ featuring a walk around Kirkleatham village. The author looked across the park to the ‘elaborate castellated pigeon-cote’ which was described as a ‘startling example’ of the extravagant ‘pseudo Gothic craze’ of the later 18th century. Only a couple of decades after this account was published the castellations were gone, and the pigeon cote was cracked and crumbling, and soon to disappear.

architecture, belvedere, country house, garden history, landscape garden, Monument, Obelisk, Tower, Worcestershire

Leicester Tower and Obelisk, Evesham, Worcestershire

The Battle of Evesham took place on a site near the town in 1265, but it was several centuries later that two memorials to the hero of the hour, Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, were erected. In 1842 Edward Rudge, a civic figure, botanist and antiquary built a tower and obelisk in the grounds of his home, and dedicated them to the battle and the earl.

architecture, Borders, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Scotland, Summerhouse, Temple

The Temple at The Lees, Coldstream, Borders

In the border town of Coldstream a footpath leads from a lodge down to the river Tweed. The route passes an ice-house shaded by trees before a stroll along the riverbank brings one to an elegant stone temple. The Temple ornamented the landscape of a grand Georgian mansion called The Lees, which was largely pulled down in the 1970s.

The Lees (sometimes just Lees) was the seat of the interrelated Pringle and Marjoribanks (pronounced Marchbanks) family. In 1760 a traveller noted that ‘Mr Pringle has built a handsome house, and made a beautiful plantation’: ‘Mr Pringle’ was James, who died in 1769 leaving the estate to his cousin Edward Marjoribanks.

The temple was extant by 1769 when a historian noted Mr Pringle’s ‘modern seat’ as well as the ‘octagonal tempiato’ on the banks of the river. It is shown as an existing feature on a ‘Design for the improvement of Lees’ by the Edinburgh based designer Richard Stephens (?-1821) dated 1816. Stephens’ family business was in ‘draining, irrigating and embanking’, but he also drew up improvement plans for a small number of Scottish estates.

The Temple is named as such on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1858. The map shows the Temple and the Ice House as well as an array of summerhouses and seats that are lost today, and the surveyors preparing the map noted the ‘considerable and well laid out pleasure grounds’. Historic England Scotland incorrectly date the structure to the ‘later 18th century’ and it is listed as Category B.

By the middle of the 20th century the house at The Lees was in a very dilapidated condition and the then owners were only interested in the fishing rights. In 1975, when all attempts to find a buyer or a purpose had been exhausted, permission was granted to demolish. By that date the house was owned by Andrew Douglas-Home, nephew of the former Prime Minister (which information the Flâneuse shares simply so the headline in The Scotsman can be understood: ‘Doom for House of Home’). The paper reported that whilst the Scottish Civic Trust and the Scottish Georgian Society thought the case was ‘one of the saddest ever’, they accepted that there was no alternative to demolition.

The derelict house in the 1970s https://canmore.org.uk/collection/2483132

Douglas-Home had a long term plan to build a new house on the site, and for that reason the circular central section won a reprieve and was left standing.

The central section standing after demolition. The columned section shown in the photo of the mansion above is to the rear. https://canmore.org.uk/file/image/1845697

Towards the end of the 20th century it was incorporated into a new house designed by Nicholas Groves-Raines, which has since been further extended.

The new house incorporating the round section, as seen from the footpath to the Temple.

As briefly mentioned the Tweed is of course famed for salmon, and the wide stretch of river in front of the Temple became known to fishermen as ‘Temple Pool’, as seen in this postcard view (which helpfully points out that in Coldstream the river is the border between Scotland and England).

Looking along the river Tweed from the Temple which is just out of shot bottom right. Card posted in 1921 courtesy of a private collection.

After the Right to Roam was introduced in Scotland Mr Douglas-Home created a footpath through his grounds and down to the river. Walkers are welcome but are requested to keep to the path and to respect the usual rules of the countryside (and to give Mr Douglas-Home a cheery hello if you see him out and about).

Thank you for reading and do please get in touch if you have any thoughts or comments – scroll down to the bottom of the page to make contact.

architecture, Banqueting House, belvedere, country house, garden history, landscape garden, Observatory, public park, Summerhouse, Temple, West Yorkshire

The Temple, Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury

When first built the handsome gazebo in the grounds of Crow Nest in Dewsbury would have had views over the estate’s fine gardens and pleasure grounds. At the end of the 19th century Crow Nest was bought for the people of Dewsbury, and has now been a public park for 130 years. The Temple remains an ornament to the park, but sadly today it has a rather forlorn appearance.

architecture, Bedfordshire, eyecatcher, garden history, Greater London, landscape garden, Middlesex, Monument, Obelisk

The Obelisk, Trent Park, Greater London

Obelisks might not seem as exciting as some of the quirkier landscape ornaments, but this one began a particularly interesting life in around 1732. Two hundred years later it was one of a group of monuments from Wrest Park in Bedfordshire that was sold to the wealthy socialite and politician Sir Philip Sassoon, and taken to his seat at Trent Park in Middlesex. There each was carefully placed in the park, and the largest, this substantial obelisk, was re-erected to terminate a new vista cut through the trees.

architecture, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Monument, Obelisk, Suffolk

The Obelisk, Woolverstone Park, Suffolk

On the banks of the river Orwell in Suffolk there once stood a lofty obelisk. It proclaimed to all the filial piety of Charles Berners, who erected it in 1793 in memory of his father, William. At 96 feet tall, and topped with a golden sun, it was a prominent landmark but sadly it came to a sorry end when it was damaged by fire and then demolished in the middle of the 20th century. But as the image above shows, fragments were salvaged and survive today.

architecture, bridge, garden history, landscape garden, Monument, Obelisk, Rotunda, sham castle, Worcestershire

Hagley Park, Worcestershire

It is getting a bit ‘backendish’ – as they say in Yorkshire – and the Folly Flâneuse is taking a short break. Meanwhile here are some of the wonderful landscape ornaments built by the Lyttelton family at Hagley Park, seen on a perfect autumn day as the leaves begin to turn bronze and gold, and the mist clears to reveal a blue sky.

architecture, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Menagerie, South Yorkshire, Temple

The Gothic Temple, Wentworth Castle, South Yorkshire

In the middle of the 18th century the Earl of Strafford was embellishing his seat at Wentworth Castle near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. A new wing was added to the mansion and the grounds were decorated with temples, columns and garden seats. Strafford asked his lifelong friend Horace Walpole for advice on an ornament for his menagerie, and this little gothic temple was the result.

architecture, belvedere, country house, eyecatcher, Folly, garden history, landscape garden, Temple, West Yorkshire

The Temple of Venus, Harewood House, West Yorkshire

Until the middle of the 19th century visitors to Harewood House, near Leeds, could open the doors of the Saloon (today known as the Main Library) on the piano nobile and ‘walk out upon the fine portico’. From there they could admire the lake and plantations created by the finest landscape designers of the 18th century, and on the horizon they would glimpse a fine domed temple.