Leicestershire, Temple

Garendon Park, Leicestershire

Courtesy of a Private Collection

In July 2018 planning permission was granted for a huge development to the west of Loughborough which will include 3,200 new homes, two schools and retail and industrial estates.

The site adjoins the Grade II listed park of the former Garendon Hall. The mansion was requisitioned in the Second World War and allowed to deteriorate in the subsequent decades. It was eventually demolished in 1964 and the rubble used in the foundations of the M1 motorway.

Although the house is gone, the park is still home to an important collection of ornamental structures including the Triumphal Arch (listed Grade I), a rotunda called the Temple of Venus (Grade II*), and an unusual obelisk where four stone balls sit on the plinth and support the tapering column (Grade II). All three were built by Ambrose Phillips in the 1730s, making them a very early and important group. Phillips had lived in Italy and used his knowledge of the architecture of Rome to design the park ornaments himself. Sadly, the Temple of Venus has long since lost its eponymous statue; the story passed down through the family being that it was destroyed by Luddites as they were marched through the park. Quite what the Luddites had against the goddess of love remains a mystery.

Postcards courtesy of a Private Collection

The good news is that restoration of the park and structures has been made a condition of the planning permission. The West of Loughborough ‘Design and Access Statement’ states that the park will be ‘opened up for public access and the monuments and parkland will be restored for the benefit of our community’. The Temple of Venus and the Triumphal Arch are on Historic England’s Buildings at Risk Register and will be the first to be restored.

Thanks to Michael Cousins for sharing his memories of a visit to Garendon many years ago.

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