The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Blenheim Palace Garden

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Blenheim.-August 11. On the evening of our arrival, we went to the great gates of the approach from Woodstock, and entered, hoping to catch the last rays of the setting sun lingering on the towers of the palace, and to see the deep broad shade thrown on the surface of the lake by the colossal bridge, and the massive oak woods beyond; a spectacle which we had often enjoyed with delight in former times. The view altogether disappointed us; for, looking down on the lake, the surface of which is more than 100 ft. below the eye, half of it appeared quite green with aquatic weeds. Next morning we proceeded to the same gates with greater deliberation; but, previously to describing what we saw, it may be necessary to state that such were the care and study of the architect to connect his work with what surrounded it, and to give note of preparation of what was to follow, that he commenced his grand entrance by an outer entrance of ordinary width, between four piers connected by short walls. This narrow entrance leads to a square area about 100 ft. on the side, which forms the outer court to the triumphal arch of the gateway. The outer piers of the narrow entrance are beginning to decay; and out of one of them is growing a young ash tree, 5 ft. or 6 ft. in height, and out of the other a sycamore of about the same size. This affords a suitable note of preparation for the state of the lake, the bridge, and the exterior of the palace. The head, or dam, of the lake is so much out of repair, that it does not retain the water so high as it ought to do by several feet; and the water of the stream, instead of falling over the cascade as it used to do, finds its way under ground, and rises up like springs in the bed of the river and in the flat ground below. The joints of the masonry of the bridge are becoming the nidus of plants, and in a year or two this building alone will produce a tolerable flora.