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.
Historical documents in Durham County Record Office indicate that there was a structure called the Strawberry Castle there in the eighteenth century.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 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.
Bowes’s support for the Whig party is shown by the Column to Liberty dominating the lower Derwent valley.
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.
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.