Few will have heard of Painshill Park, a park that is technically still in London within the M25 even though it is actually also in Surrey.
Painshill Park is a garden created in the 1700s, one of the best still left and which fortunately you can still visit. This garden was created from 1738 to 1773 by Hon. Charles Hamilton who was one of the many sons of the Earl of Abercorn and who as a young man had visited Italy on several trips.
A lover of the Renaissance and the aesthetic principle, Hamilton wanted to create gardens that resembled a painting. The garden reflects the fashion in gardening of the time that didn’t like ordered and geometric gardens, preferring instead a more ‘natural’ landscape.
The main point of the park was a snake-shaped pond with many islets and bridges. The park is located in naturally hilly land and crossed by the Mole river, this geographical advantage was exploited to the maximum.
In addition to the trees and flowers Hamilton also had follies, which were constructions that were in vogue at the time and didn’t have a purpose. Among these we can remember the fake ruins of a Gothic abbey, a crystal cave and a Roman mausoleum.
Hamilton also had a hermitage built and hired a hermit who was fired for absenteeism. Eventually, Hamilton ran out of all money and had to sell the property which passed to several owners until 1948 when the Painshill Park land was split into several parts. rented separately.
This meant the destruction of the original garden (the original house had been demolished in the late 1700s). In the 1980s the municipality bought the property and founded a non-profit company for the restoration and development of the famous garden.
The famous follies have been restored and put back in their place. Official site If you intend to visit Painshill Park, check the official site well even if the park is open almost every day, certain parts are only open on weekends.
In addition, there are always many events that you may not want to miss.
How to get to Painshill Park?
As we said this park is still located in London and to get there you will first have to reach Kingston by train or bus and from there take the 715 bus to Guildford. In less than 40 minutes you will be outside the park’s entrance.
Melrose Abbey in Scotland with lots of Gothic charm
Melrose Abbey in Scotland is in the town of the same name in the Scottish Borders. Virtually all historic buildings found in the Borders (the border area between England and Scotland) have been destroyed numerous times by the English. Melrose Abbey is no exception.
What makes it important is that despite being destroyed and now only ruins remain, many decorative parts still remain. Like the gargoyles and the Gothic rose windows.
One of the many reasons why this abbey is famous is because it is said to host the heart of Robert Bruce, the famous king of Scotland in the Middle Ages. Other medieval Scottish kings were buried here.
The history of Melrose Abbey
Let’s start from the beginning, the abbey was built in 1100 by Cistercian monks under the order of King David I. It was located in the same place as another monastery, this one dedicated to St Aidan of Lindisfarne. The Cistercian abbey was followed by the town of Melrose, being an important religious centre, there was no lack of trade.
The abbey was almost destroyed by the English king Edward I in 1322 and then rebuilt. It was later set on fire by Richard II and its reconstruction lasted over 100 years.
In 1544 it was again damaged by English troops when the British wanted Mary of the Queen to marry the son of Henry VIII. After this event the abbey was never restored and was never a functioning monastery again.
It suffered further damage later from the cannon fire of Oliver Cromwell’s army. In the end, the poor abbey never managed to stand up for long.
In addition to visiting the ruins, you can also start from here St Cuthbert’s Way, a path that goes up to the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. It had been the route taken by St Cuthbert himself in 650 from the old monastery of Melrose. In all it would be about 100 km, but you don’t have to do it all. However, it crosses some very beautiful landscapes. Melrose itself is a nice little town even if it doesn’t have much of a memorable one.
Facts you might not know about St James Park in London
St James’ Park is the smallest royal park, it is a great place to take pictures, in fact it has a perfect view of Buckingham Palace from the bridge of the pond, called Blue Bridge.
In the pond you will find a variety of swans, ducks, loons and geese and even four pelicans. Pelicans have been in St James Park since 1664 when they were donated by the Russian ambassador. At 2.30pm you can see when they are fed.
Apart from the pelicans in this park there are also owls, woodpeckers, great tits and different types of sparrows. During the day the animals you will see are undoubtedly the numerous grey squirrels but in the evening you can also see different types of mice, foxes and bats.
The pond has two small islands one called Duck Island and the other West Island. The land of St James’ Park was bought by Henry VIII, just after his marriage to Anne Boleyn, then it was a marshy area where the River Tyburn passed.
Henry VIII spent his youth at Eltham Palace in Greenwich where there was a park full of deer for his favorite pastime: hunting. Once he became king and had to move to central London he bought this swampy land where there was a hospital for leprous women. He had all the patients thrown out and created a park for deer, a pond for swimming, a vegetable garden and a garden to relax.
James I decided to reclaim the area and put exotic animals there including giraffes, crocodiles, camels and elephants. However, the name St James does not come from the monarch (who was never made a saint) but from the hospital for leprosy women that used to be here.
Charles I, son of James I did not do much in the park but before being beheaded he took a walk in the park covered by a black cloak.
The Birdcage Walk has this name because of the many bird cages, many of which were exotic, placed by Charles II . He also opened St James’ Park to the public . While in exile in France, he was very impressed with Versailles. On his return to England, he tried to do something similar in the ground of Henry VIII park was by then completely neglected. Instead he wanted the deer park and a beautiful garden full of flower beds like that of the French royal palaces. The French gardener André Le Nôtre convinced the king not to change the landscape, as the natural simplicity of this park was perhaps even better than the manicured flower beds. But they finally decided to compromise. An 800-meter-long canal was excavated for the entire length of the park.
The canal was to be the central point of the park and all the avenues would start from here even if it never reached the complexity of the French gardens. In those days the canal often froze in winter and could be used for skating. Henry VIII’s pond was left and for years it became a place of suicide for women who were disappointed in love or betrayed.
The small lake or Rosamond’s Pond was then covered in the late 1700s by the well-known Capability Brown who tried to improve the park. In fact, from 1750 onwards the park became a den of criminals and prostitutes.
To celebrate Napoleon’s defeat, the royal family held a great party in which all the royals of Europe participated. A pagoda very similar to that of Kew Gardens was built for the festival but built on a bridge built by John Nash.
During the celebrations with fireworks, the pagoda caught fire and collapsed into the canal. Two spectators died.
Most of the trees you see now are no older than 1827 when the park was modernized, previously the trees were normally cut for lumber and on several occasions fireworks in the park burned several trees. Most of the trees in the park are plane trees, there are also oak and mulberry trees that date back to the time when James I tried to bring the silk industry to London.
Two major changes took place in the park over the course of 10 years, one was when the canal was transformed into the present pond around 1820. In fact, a long and straight channel was not considered very aesthetically beautiful.
The second was in 1911 when the Queen Victoria Memorial was built in front of Buckingham Palace on land that belonged to the park and was part of the pond.
St James’ Park is part of the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk and for those wishing to complete the walk, you can find the map here. The park is open from 5 am to midnight every day of the year. It is visited by over 5 million people every year.
See London like you have never seen it before!
The Unreal City exhibition is over but you can now see it in your home via a free app that you can find here until February 7th.
The objective is to transform the city into an immersive art gallery in augmented reality (AR). An initiative of the AR Acute Art and Dazed Media app, the exhibit featured 36 digital sculptures by artists from around the world and was organized as a riverside walking tour at a time when indoor museums had become completely inaccessible due to COVID-19.
Featuring images of some of the sculptures and words from artists including Olafur Eliasson, Tomás Saraceno, Cao Fei and many others.
Concerts coming up!
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