Archive for the ‘Gilpin, W.S.’ Category

Mysterious beauty

November 24, 2010

View towards Crichton Tower on Gad Island in Lough Erne, on the Crom estate. ©NTPL/John Millar

The National Trust has long published a technical bulletin called Views, which contains all sorts of research ranging from car park design to Repton red books. Now the most recent issues of Views have been made publicly accessible for the first time.

View of Crom Castle, built 1832-8. ©NTPL/John Millar

One of the articles in issue 47, by National Trust gardens curator Chris Gallagher, is about the rediscovery of the vistas in the Crom demesne in Co. Fermanagh.

The ruins of the old tower-house. ©NTPL/John Millar

As Chris explains, the park at Crom was designed by William Sawrey Gilpin (1761/2-1843) from the mid-1830s onwards. Gilpin was working in the Picturesque tradition and was adept at sensitively combining the man-made and natural elements of a landscape.

©NTPL/John Millar

The trees planted and arranged by Gilpin have obviously matured since then, and some of the Picturesque vistas he contrived have become overgrown. Chris’s research has identified many of these half-lost views.

View of Holy Trinity church on the Derryvore peninsula across Lough Erne. ©NTPL/John Millar

One of the purposes of vistas was to create a greater sense of connectedness between the different parts of a landscape.

View near Lough Erne. ©NTPL/John Millar

It is hoped that Chris Gallagher’s findings will lead to more of these crucial vistas being opened up again, while obviously also preserving Crom’s character as a place of great and mysterious natural beauty.

By the way, William Sawrey Gilpin was also responsible for the garden at Scotney Castle, which I have featured earlier. And these photographs of Crom remind me of a previous discussion about different types of beauty.

It’s Grimm down south

August 27, 2010

©Burstow & Hewett

Breaking news: we have just managed to purchase this little pen and ink sketch of Scotney Castle, Kent, dated 1783, by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm (1733-1794). We bought it at auction at Burstow & Hewett in Battle, East Sussex.

Emma Slocombe, the curator for Scotney, notes that it is probably a preparatory sketch for the watercolours of Scotney by Grimm which are in the British Library. We are always potentially interested in acquiring pictures that show what our historic properties used to look like.

The only remaining tower of the old castle at Scotney, with the ruins of the other parts of the building. ©NTPL/Stephen Robson

The sketch shows quite a lot of detail, including various buildings which have since disappeared or fallen into ruin. Originally Scotney was a castle with four corner towers, but the building was domesticated through successive alterations in about 1580, 1640 and 1720.

The old castle seen from the new house. ©NTPL/John Miller

In the early nineteenth century the house was abandoned as being too damp and unhealthy. In the 1830s Edward Hussey built a new house on the hill above, while incorporating the ruined castle into his picturesque garden. Other posts on Scotney can be found here.

The hermitage at Selbourne, Hampshire, with Henry White as the hermit, 1777, by Samuel Hieronymus Grimm, at Dunham Massey, Cheshire. Note the 'picturesque' seat made of untreated branches. ©NTPL

There are a few other works by Samuel Hiernonymous Grimm at other National Trust properties. Apart from topographical pictures, he also produced mythological and picturesque scenes.

The new house

March 22, 2010

The ruin at Scotney Castle, with the new house beyond. ©NTPL/John Miller

The garden at Scotney Castle, in Kent, is one of the finest surviving examples of the Picturesque landscape style. Around 1840 Edward Hussey III commissioned Anthony Salvin to build a new house there. The garden was designed by William Sawrey Gilpin, who incorporated the ruin of the old castle in a picturesque composition that could be admired from the new house.

The hall at the new house. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Edward’s grandson Christopher Hussey inherited Scotney in 1952. He was an architectural historian who contributed to Country Life for over 50 years. In 1927 he had written a pioneering study of the Picturesque movement, which was directly influenced by his experience of the garden at Scotney. He was also one of the minds behind the National Trust’s Country Houses Scheme, through which historic houses were beginning to be secured in the 1940s.

Christopher Hussey's study. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Christopher and his wife Betty reinvigorated the garden, and they furnished the house with heirlooms as well as new purchases. Although they were keen to preserve the original neo-Elizabethan decor, the interiors also clearly show their own taste and interests. 

Some of Christopher Hussey's books. ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The Husseys’ friends have testified that Scotney was a happy and welcoming place. The interiors show what life could be like in an English country house in the twentieth century, with a relaxed coexistence of old and new.

The kitchen. ©NTPL/John Miller

Scotney was left to the National Trust upon Christopher’s death in 1970, but Betty continued to live in the house during her long widowhood. After her death the contents of the house were accepted in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust in 2008.

The bamboo bedroom (during 2010 this room may only be open on selected days). ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

The house is now open to visitors. It adds another layer to the already rich and multifaceted experience of Scotney.