The day dawned bright and clear and the coach was ready and waiting for us.
Painshill is a beautiful award-winning 18th century landscape garden in Cobham, Surrey. It is billed as a place “where the walk is a work of art”. The 158-acre estate is a living canvas of stunning views and dramatically placed garden buildings, with the added attractions of the 14-acre Serpentine Lake, the Grotto and the Walled Garden.
On arrival we were welcomed to the visitor center, where the head gardener gave an interesting talk on the history, layout and future plans for the park. After refreshments we went out into the park, where you could choose the guided walk, the buggy tour or explore the many creations as you strolled around with the aid of an excellent map and guidebook. There are at least twelve different places around the park to visit. I will describe a couple: -
- The ten-sided Gothic Temple - constructed in timber but rendered to resemble stone - was the first major building on the walk. The temple offers a view of the lake, Gothic Tower, Temple of Bacchus, Hermitage, Grotto, Five-Arch Bridge and Turkish Tent. The area round here was used to film locations for Netflix’s Bridgerton and was the favoured view of King George III. This was the first building to be restored by the trust, replicating Hamilton’s building techniques.
- As you progress either by the various bridges over the lake or round past the Turkish Tent you reach the Temple of Bacchus. It was designed by Robert Adam and constructed in 1762 to house the statue of Bacchus, which Hamilton had brought back from his Grand Tour. By 1981 the roof of the temple had collapsed. The Painshill Park Trust set about reconstruction in 1985, using a mixture of modern and traditional building techniques, now making this one of the most important and eye-catching buildings in the park.
While the head gardener was giving his talk, others went directly onto ‘the historic tour’ of the park. Our volunteer guide was extremely knowledgeable and with several decades of experience history at Painshill, there was nothing she didn’t know. At the end of the tour, we had a rest and picnic lunch in the shade of an old oak tree before climbing the hill to the Temple of Bacchus.
These photos, taken by several members of our group, will give you a glimpse of some of the highlights from our visit.
To conclude, we had a great day out. Refreshments in the visitor centre were excellent and both our outbound and return coach rides were uneventful (which is not always the case when travelling on the M25).
If you were unable to make the THACS visit, we hope you can find time to explore Painshill. You can find more information at their website www.painshill.co.uk.