My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Was I in Italy?

Today I awoke to brilliant sunshine and a cloudless blue sky. So what to do today?

I'd seen signs to Cherkley Court and Gardens recently and decided that as it was local I would pay a visit. The gardens had only been open to the public since April of last year, and the signs had just appeared on the main road. Apparently planning application had been delayed because, in order to qualify for permission for directional signs, the property has to have a minimum number of visitors first. I shall never understand English planning regulations!!

The house, a late Victorian mansion, was most recently owned by Lord Beaverbrook who lived there until his death in 1964. His wife, stayed in the house for a further 30 years and the house and garden fell into disrepair ; Lady Beaverbrook living lastly in only 2 rooms until her death in 1994. The house and estate are now owned by the Beaverbrook Foundation and restoration started in 2002.

The house and gardens certainly suggest a Mediterranean style and consequently the vivid blue of today's sky was an appropriate backdrop for the gardens.

The views from the garden, across to Ranmore common are stunning. Norbury House up on the Common can be seen and also the spire of Ranmore Church

It took eight years to restore the Gardens and one year in itself to dig out the terraces. Regrettably the storm of 1987 that hit South East England spelt the demise of some 21,000 trees around the estate. Where the present day car park is was once a heavily wooded area.

I was impressed with the large fields left for wild flowers to grow, that I drove through to get to the entrance of the gardens. However, in the main the gardens are very formal. At the lowest level there is a "wild" garden and also a "walnut" walk.

At the end of the day, if you like formal gardens, then this is is definitely for you.

For me? Too formal, much preferring a wilder garden; even the Mediterranean garden (to me) was too contrived. A pleasant enough morning, but was glad I hadn't travelled a great distance to get there.

It was a pleasant morning in the sunshine; I met two individuals - a lady who was coping with her husband just having had to go into a nursing home whilst she was waiting for surgery on her leg! A chappie (sporting a Nikon camera and Sigma lens) and I had a conversation by the Italian Pond - he was suggesting I joined his local camera club. Hmmm....

Standing with my back to the "front door" it's not a very
grand view.

However, going around to the back of the house is another
matter altogether

This is the Italian garden. The pond, now playing home
to water lilies, dragon and damselflies and various fish,
used to be a swimming pool. This end of the pond, the original steps
used to enter the pool still remain. Lord Beaverbrook's study had
this view from the doors of the house.

Look over to Ranmore Common - the view is out over
two further terraces although only the first one is
visible in this picture

Underneath the top terrace is the Shell Grotto

and below on the final terrace...

This is a view of one of two pavilions..
If I were to turn my back and move to the other side of
the pond - there would be the same view!

This garden used to be a conservatory and, where the arched windows are in the building, was the second of two swimming pools - this being the indoor pool. The cafe is now, literally, above the pool which has been covered over with flooring - the pool still existing underneath. A planning application to have the pool filled in - failed!

FLOWERS - around the wild flower meadows,
the kitchen garden and estate generally.


Carin Fuchs said...

Me and the bee
like the salvia tree! LOL

Well all right, it is a bush I know but it wouldn't rhyme, though. Oh, I hope it is at least really a sage? I like the 'portraits' of the flowers they are so beautiful and I can almost smell them!

oldcrow61 said...

Wow, that's quite the place. I really like the grotto and the flowers are wonderful. Great pictures.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Excellent... I never do House and Gardens.... maybe I should start after seeing these.

Janine said...

The grottos are amazing! Very cool place, perfect weather!

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