Archive for the ‘Studley Royal’ Category

The wonder of the north

November 12, 2015

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The extraordinary landscape garden at Studley Royal is the subject of a major new book by Mark Newman.

The cascade and the fishing tabernacles at Studley Royal, created in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The cascade and the fishing tabernacles at Studley Royal, created in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Based on many years of research, this book charts at the history of Studley Royal from its origins to the present day, while devoting most attention to the development of its pioneering garden in the eighteenth century.

The rustic bridge at Studley Royal, built in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The rustic bridge at Studley Royal, built in the 1720s. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

John Aislabie (1670-1742) may have been a blatantly venal government minister – he was was convicted of corruption following the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720 – but he had a sophisticated taste in landscape design.

Statue of Bacchus in front of the Temple of Piety, probably built in the early 1730s, at Studley Royal. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Statue of Bacchus in front of the Temple of Piety, probably built in the early 1730s, at Studley Royal. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Following his banishment from politics he poured his energies into Studley Royal. He bent the landscape to his will, but at the same time allowed for a degree of naturalness and irregularity, which was new at the time.

The Octagon Tower at Studley Royal, completed in 1735. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The Octagon Tower at Studley Royal, completed in 1735. ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Studley represents the early phase of the English landscape garden, juxtaposing formality and informality, architecture and foliage, water and greenery, light and shade.

View over the half moon pond and the weir at Studley Royal towards Fountains Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

View over the half moon pond and the weir at Studley Royal towards Fountains Abbey. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

His son William Aislabie (1700-81) continued to develop the landscape, incorporating the medieval ruins of Fountains Abbey into it and creating the ‘Chinese woods’ further up the valley.

The seven bridges walk at Studley Royal, near the area formerly known as the 'Chinese woods'. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The seven bridges walk at Studley Royal, near the area formerly known as the ‘Chinese woods’. ©National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The book can be purchased via the National Trust online shop.

Studley dredged

October 22, 2010

The Cascade at Studley Royal. ©NTPL/Andrew Butler

The water gardens at Studley Royal, North Yorkshire are a rare surviving example of early-eighteenth-century landscaping in the grand manner.

They were created by John Aislabie (1670-1742), an ambitious politician who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1718. He was implicated in the South Sea Bubble in 1720 – the credit crunch of its day – and as a result was barred from public office. Aislabie subsequently poured his energies into the creation of the Studley gardens.

View of the Lake and Cascade c. 1760 by Balthazar Nebot, showing how the different elements of the landscape were intended to interact, including the reflective quality of the water. ©NTPL

Studley is also remarkable as one of the first gardens where formal landscaping was combined with a natural setting. The intentionally created vistas between the different pavilions interact with the topography of the wooded valley. In addition, the enlarged and formalised sheets of water reflect the sky, add light and enhance the sense of space.

The Lake at some point before 1890. ©National Trust

As the water gardens are part of the course of the river Skell, the lakes and ponds have always been prone to silting up, and they need to be regularly dredged. In spite of this, the appearance of the Lake remained more or less unaltered until the second half of the nineteenth century.

Recent aerial view of the Lake, showing how two of the vistas were being blocked by the island. ©National Trust

At some point between 1854 and 1890 an island appeared in the Lake, probably created from dredged silt. Although an artificial island can of course serve a useful picturesque function, in this case it obscured the vistas down the Canal and to the Half Moon Pond.

The Lake with the island still in place. ©National Trust

Recently it became necessary for the Lake to be drained and dredged once again, so that the dam containing it could be inspected.

Based the historical evidence mentioned above, collated by gardens curator Christopher Gallagher, the decision was taken to also remove the island and open up the vistas again.

The drained Lake in spring 2010. ©National Trust

The work was undertaken this year and has just been finished.

The newly opened-up view, September 2010. ©National Trust/Ian Gilkinson

The trees that had slowly encroached towards the edge of the Lake have also been cut back, so that the bank could be shored up and the original lakeside walk reestablished.

More information and videos about the project can be found here.


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