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HISTORY OF HARDWICK PARK
THE CIRCUIT WALK
HARDWICKE PLANTATION - A poem in 1811
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THE CIRCUIT WALK
The circuit walk which was conceived as a deliberate sequence of experiences, each contrasting with its predecessor and successor. The visitor would arrive from Sedgefield across fields, later altered to parkland. He would enter at the lodge and pass through groves of trees until arriving at the GRAND TERRACE, a broad straight gravel walk running east to west. Looking back the visitor would see the tower of Sedgefield church framed in trees. Ahead he would see a CIRCULAR POND halfway along with the Doric façade of the BATH HOUSE. To the south he would see a sixteen acre LAKE. Beyond the lake he would see, to the south-east, the apparent RUIN of a mediaeval building with a circular turret, to the south-west a domed classical TEMPLE with a square colonnade round it. Other hidden features were the BONO RETIRO and CASCADE, GOTHIC BRIDGE, NEPTUNE and the BANQUETING HOUSE.
The HALL was designed by James Paine as a Palladian villa of exceptional grandeur with pavilion wings. It was never built, perhaps because John Burdon was not able to finance the project. The building was designed to face east and west giving a view across the lake.
|The pleasure gardens extended west of the house backed, on the northern side, by a tall brick wall. Inserted into this wall was the TUSCAN ALCOVE, a significant eye catcher in the view north from the TEMPLE OF MINERVA.
Progressing west along the GRAND TERRACE the visitor soon came to the GOTHIC SEAT, set in a semi-circular grove of yew trees, to the north of the CIRCULAR POND.
|An engraved view of the LAKE is taken from near the CIRCULAR POND.
The function of the CIRCULAR POND could have been to provide a focal point as a visual "mid point" along the GRAND TERRACE.
The BATH HOUSE stood at the western end of the GRAND TERRACE, surrounded by trees. It was of the Doric Order having an open portico in front, leading to the bath, and apartments to breakfast and repose in, at the sides. These rooms were decorated with motifs alluding to the buildings function, i.e. the fire screen in the bedroom was a painting of Apollo with Muses washing his feet. Over the fireplace there was a relief head of Neptune.
From the BATH HOUSE the visitor takes a winding path to the BONO RETIRO.
The BONO RETIRO (a place of pleasant retirement) was built in the rude gothic style in an atmospheric setting intended to exhibit 'a pleasing picture of taste of former ages'. A visit to the interior was for selected visitors only. The first floor, or "library", was lit by stained glass windows, the subjects represented were 'the likeness of things so foul to behold that what they are is not to be told'. In front of the Bono Retiro was an extensive bottle pond, with a CASCADE flowing down the western face of the dam. The CASCADE was reflected in a mirror at the entrance to the building. The whole area was entirely hidden from view from all directions by lofty trees and shrubs. The visitor continued on a winding walk with a sudden view of the lake with vistas to the mock RUIN etc. The walk then approached the TEMPLE OF MINERVA on its hill.
TEMPLE OF MINERVA
The TEMPLE OF MINERVA was erected on a mound surrounded by a ha-ha. It was built in the Ionic style and dedicated to Minerva, goddess of wisdom and patroness of the Arts. It consisted of a single 18 foot cubic room, above which was a leaded dome on an octagon of sandstone. The niches, on either side of the single window in each façade, carried busts of literary figures on decorative plinths. A colonnade of twenty Ionic columns surrounded the cubic building providing a covered walk around the temple. The single room was elaborately decorated, the floor was marble mosaic and further busts installed round the walls.
Extensive views in all directions could be seen from the colonnade. After leaving the TEMPLE, the visitor entered a shady walk terminating at a RUSTIC SEAT after which the GOTHIC BRIDGE was approached.
The GOTHIC BRIDGE spanned the SERPENTINE RIVER and ........
STATUE OF NEPTUNE
......... gave the visitor a view of the STATUE OF NEPTUNE upon a pedestal in the SERPENTINE RIVER. In the distance the RUIN could be seen with its backdrop of trees. The RUIN was intended to represent the remains of an ancient castle.
The visitor then proceeded by the margin of the SERPENTINE RIVER to the BANQUETING HOUSE.
|The BANQUETING HOUSE stood on rising ground with a spacious lawn in front and surrounded by an amphitheatre of woods. A Palladian building with an elaborately decorated interior of stucco work with much gilding. The chimney piece was inlaid marble with jasper columns. Busts and statues adorned the walls and John Burdon's portrait was placed above the mantle piece. It was the final destination in the tour of the gardens and a place where drinks and iced fruit desserts were served on a summers evening.|
A portrait of John Burdon by Martin Ferdinand Quadal 1779 formerly hung in the Banqueting House above the chimney piece. It shows a view of Sedgefield Church through an archway in the background.
The GROTTO lay on the peninsular between the SERPENTINE RIVER and the LAKE, a part of the grounds but not included in the circuit walk. This isolation is appropriate for a GROTTO, intended as a place of solitude in uncultivated surroundings (Italian - grotta = cave).
The estate was bought by John Burdon in 1748 for £10,800, it was sold for £40,000 in 1791 to William Russel.
THE GOTHIC SEAT
|The GOTHIC SEAT was situated to the north of the CIRCULAR POND at the west end of the GRAND TERRACE.|