Claremont Place

The designed landscape at Claremont Place is an outstanding example for the development of the English Landscape Design from the 1710s to the first half of the 19th century. The landscape included all main styles of the period: In the 1710s Vanbrugh and Bridgeman introduced the Forest Style, naturalised by William Kent in the 1730-40s with Augustan Style elements. In the early 1770s Lancelot Brown designed the only surviving house of his career and altered the landscape in some areas through the inclusion of the Serpentine Style. Finally the Gardenesque and the Mixed Style found their way into the grounds in the 1810-30s with a number of elements: a teahouse, a mausoleum and the camellia house. But Claremont is also a place that shows the fatal developments of the 20th century when the owners constantly changed and the original parkland was cut in small parcels. The area of now circa 20 hectares, called Claremont Landscape Garden, is managed by the National Trust. The other parts of the original park are in the hands of a girls school including the house and approximately 40 hectares. Further parkland, approximately 10 to 20 hectares, was sold for housing.

The National Trust is responsible for the key elements of the period from Vanbrugh/ Bridgeman, up to the Belvedere Tower, Kent’s and the 19th century Camellia Terrace. However in this area Brown’s already existing dominant influences are not visible. They are only recognizable in the alternated Ha-Ha. Claremont Landscape Garden was restored after 1975, and the turf amphitheatre came to light after 200 years during which it was covered with Cedrus maybe planted by Brown. So the dominant style of this area is a mix of elements of the Forest Style – with the rest of the Ha-Ha as a retaining wall, visual axes between the Bowling Green and the Belvedere Tower, tree plantations and a amphitheatre – and the Augustan Style with a naturalist lake, the Island Pavilion and the Grotto as parts of a classical landscape.

Today the visitors enter the park at a side where never before an entrance was located. It is an absolute dilemma that the interested visitor is thus robbed of the opportunity to understand the original dramaturgy and scenery of the area in which he is pushed at the wrong place. It is not the only garden or designed landscape managed by especially the National Trust where the original entrance situation of the park in the original layout with its important vistas and relationships was not preserved. Stourhead and Fountains Abbey have the same problem. In Stourhead space needed for the car park could have been a reason for the change, but not in Claremont or in Fountains Abbey. Perhaps this is unimportant for visitors on their “Great Day Out”, but it is important in terms of the interest in long-term management and for connecting committed and dedicated people in their engagement for and to a historical site.

Current management

On the other hand, the ownership by the National Trust preserves and secures the place for a wide range of visitors, and it integrates local people who benefit by learning about the local history and in turn help to preserve the area. The management’s main focus is to preserve the current state of the park and present its key features. For this part of Claremont Place a management is necessary that freezes the style. The preservation and continuation of the historically important design is guaranteed. If there are no flowering areas, the three gardeners can manage the 20 hectares of parkland, especially after some changes regarding the mowing practice. The gardeners are assisted by 10 volunteers on two days a week. A particular issue is a great number of wild ducks and there excrements in the front of the amphitheatre. Special machinery is provided to clean the lawn. Irrigation is only in use for new plantations.

Kim Wilkie has produced a long term Management Plan for part from the school.

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