I went to Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher eager to catch the golden-copper colour trees and to learn a bit more about the history of the gardens.
Greeted by the friendly faces of ducks by the entrance, I was led to a giant amphitheatre…
A turf amphitheatre! (I paused to see if a cabal of meerkats was going to spring from the grassy undulations – but – no. Not this time).
It was the creation of Charles Bridgeman for the Duke of Newcastle who was then Prime Minister. The concave/convex terraces cover three acres, carved from a naturally formed hill in around 1722 and it was hidden for nearly 200 years!
Continuing through the gardens, I saw a thatched garden cottage which was where games were played in the mid 18th century…
Throughout the gardens there are statues of animals, like this stone bear, which was originally in the lake and used to represent the Duke of Newcastle’s coat of arms.
I was shocked to see a flowering camellia at the beginning of December!
And at the top of the gardens rose this view from over the lake…
William Kent expanded the man-made lake from a circle into its irregular shape, as by 1738 it was more fashionable to have less formal garden designs.
There’s a small island in the middle of the lake, which William Kent instructed. When Clive of India bought Claremont in 1769 he commissioned ‘Capability’ Brown to design him a new mansion and to alter the layout of the road around Claremont.
This particular spot was a favourite for those who lived at Claremont, so when the newlywed Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold moved in, they arranged for a tea house to be built overlooking the vista. Tragically, Charlotte died in childbirth just one year later in 1817 and the grief-stricken Leopold ordered the unfurnished building to be remodelled as a mausoleum. However, it was sadly demolished in 1922 to make way for a proposed housing development. Thankfully this scheme was later abandoned.
If you lengthen your winter walking strides with gusto and stomp, you will arrive at Belvedere Tower, designed 250 years ago by Sir John Vanbrugh for the Duke of Newcastle, as a symbol of his wealth and power for all to see.
It’s such a wonderful place to visit, I had a great time!
For those interested my wool grey coat is an oldie (I got it the year before the military trend was key, seven years ago!) but there’s a similar one from John Lewis here.
My wool Fairisle scarf is from John Lewis last year, but they have a similar one this year here.
And my faux-fur handbag is about 14 years old (the seven year fashion cycle strikes again!) but I’ve found a similar one from M&S here.
More information about Claremont Landscape Garden can be found on the National Trust website.