Gothic Tower

Dean Messenger

Croydon, United Kingdom

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Gothic Tower, Painshill Park, Cobham Surrey

Built in the late 1750’s in imitation of a medieval watch tower, and sometimes referred to by Hamilton as his castle, it was neither intended nor ever used as a signal tower. Dominating the countryside from the westernmost boundary, it conveys an air of mystery.

Painshill was created between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon Charles Hamilton, 9th son and 14th child of 6th Earl of Abercorn. A painter, plantsman and brilliantly gifted and imaginative designer, he dedicated his creative genius to the layout and composition of a landscape garden which was unique in Europe and still remains so.

Hamilton was educated at Westminster and Oxford, where he formed a lifelong friendship with Stephen and Henry Fox, wealthy sons and heirs of Sir Stephen Fox. Hamilton joined two Grand Tour’s of Europe, first in 1725 with Stephen Fox and later in 1732 with Henry Fox, that cultivated his great interest in the arts.

In 1738, Hamilton began to acquire the land at Painshill which over the years built up to over 250 acres. Painshill was created as a romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of the visitor. Hamilton was in the vanguard of the picturesque movement. The gardens were divided into two parts; the ornamental pleasure grounds to the south, with the lake as the central feature, and an adjoining crescent of open parkland to the north in a free and natural style. The gardens were among the earliest to reflect the changing fashion from geometric formality to the naturalistic style. Painshill was also very much a garden of ‘mood’ which changed from one part of the grounds to another. Hamilton eventually ran out of money and sold the estate in 1773.

Until the outbreak of World War II it was held by a series of private owners, all of whom cherished their possession.

The main decay started in 1948 after the sale by the Coombe family to the Baroness de Veauce, who split up the estate, separating the mansion from the park, and sold it in separate lots. Some of the park’s original features were still to be found in 1981, when the Trust was formed, though obscured by years of neglect.

Rescuing and restoring this exceptional Grade I landscape, with its history largely undiscovered at the outset, has been very challenging and difficult but ultimately exceedingly rewarding, capped with the award of the rare Europa Nostra Medal in 1998 “for the exemplary restoration from a state of extreme neglect, of a most important 18th century landscape park and its extraordinary buildings”. Painshill Park is of international importance and therefore The Painshill Park Trust now has a long-term aim to become a world heritage site.

In May 2006, Painshill was awarded full collection status for the John Bartram Heritage Collection by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG). Our collection is the first National Plant Collection of its type that the NCCPG has ever awarded and will now be used as a standard to judge other similar heritage collections.

Canon EOS 1000D
F/10
1/30 Sec
ISO 100@27mm
HDR Photomatix 4
topaz adjust
single layer

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tower gothic landscape

Artwork Comments

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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