Strawberry Castle forever

View from the Long Walk at Gibside to the Chapel, begun in 1760 to the design of James Paine. ©NTPL/Mark Bolton

Gibside, near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, has launched a family competition to design a new adventure playground based on one the garden’s lost follies.

The triple-decker pulpit in the Chapel. The interior was not completed until 1816. ©NTPL/Mark Bolton©NTPL/Mark Bolton

Historical documents in Durham County Record Office indicate that there was a structure called the Strawberry Castle there in the eighteenth century. However, it is not clear where exactly it was located or what it looked like.

The Stables, designed by Daniel Garrett. The five-bay Palladian front could be seen from the New Coach Way, but the front with the carriage entrance was built in vernacular style. ©NTPL/Robert Morris

The landscape garden at Gibside was created by George Bowes (1701-1760), a landowner and businessman, between 1729 and 1760. It was a mixture of formal and informal elements and contained a number of garden buildings by Daniel Garrett and James Paine.

The Column to Liberty. ©NTPL/Robert Morris

Bowes’s support for the Whig party is shown by the Column to Liberty dominating the lower Derwent valley.

The ruins of the Green House. ©NTPL/Nick Meers

George Bowes’s daughter Mary Eleanor (1749-1800), a noted botanist, had a Green House built to shelter her exotic plants.

From the late nineteenth century Gibside went into a slow decline. In 1974 the Chapel and the Long Walk were given to the National Trust, which has since gradually been reuniting and restoring the core of the estate. The important early neo-Gothic Banqueting House is owned by the Landmark Trust.

Local primary school children working in the Walled Garden, where vegetables are now grown organically. ©NTPL/Mark Bolton

Designs and ideas for the Strawberry Castle adventure playground can be sent to Emily Bryce, Visitor Services Manager, Gibside, nr. Rowland’s Gill, Burnopfield, Gateshead NE16 6BG before 28 February 2011.

6 Responses to “Strawberry Castle forever”

  1. Barry Leach Says:

    What a delight the Chapel is – both inside and out.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    It is a gem, isn’t it? The plan is a Greek cross within a square, the dome is extra tall so it can be seen at close quarters, it has Diocletian windows, composite columns, Ionic pilasters, etc., and it has changed very little since it was built.

  3. Janet Says:

    The pulpit is extraordinary. Such a strange hybrid of styles!

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes I like the touches of the support for the sounding board being an Ionic column, and the tentlike canopy being topped by a little urn. Apparently it is made of cherrywood. The preacher would use the top tier, the readings were given from the middle and a clerk would occupy the bottom one (doing what, one wonders?).

  5. columnist Says:

    Taking his instructions from God, perhaps?

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Evidently :)

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