The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment Vi. On Castles.

Castle gothic scenery

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IT has been frequently observed, that an artist's fame must depend on what he has written, or designed, rather than on the imperfect manner in which his works have been executed. The annexed sketch is a picturesque attempt to add a house and garden to a romantic situation, near the head of a spring, which spreads its waters through the whole course of a narrow, but richly clothed valley. The old mansion was so deeply placed in the bottom, that the sun could never cheer it during the winter months; I proposed, therefore, that a part of this old building should remain as offices, and a new suit of rooms be built on a higher level: and, although it was deemed more expedient to add to the old house, this airy castle rose in my imagination; I will, therefore, avail myself of this imaginary specimen, to explain certain leading principles, for all of which combined, I can refer to no irregular Gothic buildings, except such as are in ruins; for, although many attempts have recently been made to produce modern Gothic castles, yet, the great principle on which the picturesque effect of all Gothic edifices must depend, has too generally been overlooked, viz. irregularity of outline; first, at the top by towers and pinnacles, or chimneys; secondly, in the outline of the faces, or elevations, by projections and recesses; thirdly, in the outline of the apertures, by breaking the horizontal lines with windows of different forms and heights; and, lastly, in the outline of the base, by the building being placed on ground of different levels. To all these must be added, detached buildings, which tend to spread the locality, and extend the importance of the principal pile, in which some one feature ought to rise boldly above the rest of the irregular mass, while the whole should be broken, but not too much frittered into parts, by smaller towers, or clusters of lofty chimneys. After all, no building can appear truly picturesque, unless, in its outline, the design be enriched by vegetation (such as ivy, or other creeping plants); and the colouring, by those weather stains, which time alone can throw over the works of art, to blend them with the works of nature, and bring the united composition into pleasing harmony.