Monday, 17 October 2016

In praise of Capability Brown + autumn at Wimpole Hall

It's a winning combination. 
One thing Capability got right was parklands. I mean everything he did was spot on, but the parklands he envisaged have established so beautifully and sympathetically- they seem so effortless in their execution, like they formed naturally and not from the vision of one man. Such was his genius. To see those parklands in mid autumn is spectacular. To walk them in atmospheric drizzle, as the leaves softly fall around you and your shoes get muddy is even better. 

The front aspect. 

From here, the house looks out over a 2 and a half mile grand avenue of uninterrupted countryside, adding to it's bold and assertive presence and unmistakable grandeur.

The house was begun in 1640, and the estate consists of 3000 acres of parklands and a still working farm.

The rear boasts perfectly geometrical garden beds in a formal jardin a la francaise style. A lovely contrast to the pockets of woodland in the North Park.

Looking out from a first floor window across the North Park. The focal point in the distance is a Gothic folly.

In addition to Earls and Viscounts, the house has had other notable owners, including Elsie Bambridge, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, who bequeathed the estate to the National Trust upon her death. One of Mr Kipling's luggage trunks is still in the Stewards quarters at the bottom of the house.

Inside is just as grand as you would expect from an estate of this calibre.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Wimpole Hall in 1843:

Lamps had been placed all the way along the drive and the front of the Hall was illuminated as the Queen was greeted at the steps, covered in crimson cloth, by the Earl and Countess at twenty-five minutes to six. The Queen and Prince were given two rooms on the first floor facing south to use as drawing rooms, and a breakfast room on the north front. For a dressing room Lady Hardwicke's boudoir, looking out over the elm avenue, was used; next was the royal bedroom and further along the Prince's dressing room; other rooms on the same floor were allotted to her entourage, and they used the private staircase. All these rooms had been specially redecorated for the occasion, and the great State Bed had the initials of Queen and Prince (V&A) worked somehow to each of the four supporters. A white lace coverlet was lined with green silk, and the hangings, according to a correspondent, were 'of elegant chintz with a white ground.'
From HERE.

The walled gardens are, like the rest of the estate, vast. Inside the walls are flower gardens, an orchard, vegetable and herb plots, as well as a winter garden. Much of the produce grown here supplies the cafes and farm shop restaurant on the estate. Wimpole is still a working farm with rare breed livestock and wheat the main focus.

Gardening gloves hanging out to dry, one of many indications that Wimpole Hall is still a living, functioning farm.

I loved it, muddy boots and all, 
but I was very grateful to have my new raincoat.

Here's to Capability on the 300th anniversary of his birth. He has left a beautiful legacy.

Kate  x

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