Painshill Park, Cobham (UK)

European Garden Award 2015


The restoration project at Painshill landscape garden has been conducted over the past thirty years with the intention of rescuing the garden created by Charles Hamilton (1738 and 1773) which had fallen into dereliction. Over the recent years the project has culminated in the restoration of the crystal Grotto, the Five Arch Bridge and lake vista, and the Woollett Bridge.

One of the biggest achievements has been the restoration of the crystal Grotto – a truly exceptional example of an 18th century grotto in its entire and original form. 100s of 1000s of crystals including originals recovered from archaeological works were skilfully embedded with lime mortar onto a framework of inverted wooden cones, to re-create the dazzling stalactite effect of the original folly. These crystals were strategically positioned as the play of light inside the chamber was of fundamental importance.

The final restoration stage was the repair of the water system which creates the marine cave illusion. The rock pools were then liberally decorated with the original corals, shells and a large South Pacific clam shell.

The restoration works also included the reinstatement of the historic Woollett Bridge and improved accessibility to enhance the visitor experience. The design is based on the 1760s engraving by William Woollett, which is the only known illustration of the original bridge.

The additional new Five Arch Bridge has been designed to replicate the original created by Charles Hamilton in the middle to late 1760s. Now reinstated, the Five Arch Bridge and its iconic round arches, is once again making a significant impact within the landscape garden. The long lake vista has been restored and the lake now flows freely under the bridge.

New planting schemes have been implemented to create a more authentic appearance to the landscape garden as the result of the Ornamental Planting Review which was established in 2012.

Link to Painshill Park website