Part 1: Repairing The Stone
Since 2016 mason Mike Orchard has been carving new stone to replace the damaged or lost elements of this Halswell Park icon.
The restoration started with scaffolding to the bridge and removal of dangerous tree limbs before the winter could do any more damage to the structure. Each stone had to be numbered and mapped both on the working drawings and on the stones themselves, before dismantling the most precarious areas could begin.
The Bath Stone Bridge in Mill Wood was created by Sir Charles Kemeys-Tynte (1710-1785) and probably Thomas Wright (1711-1786) as the show piece in the of their water garden vision.
The ashlar apse at the back of the central pediment had roots digging through the cracks and had been losing cut stone blocks into the water below for many years. Before Mike could evaluate the missing stone that needed to be remade a catalogue of all the stone found on site was needed so that the jigsaw could be understood. Salvaging stone lost in the silt was one of the first tasks.
Episode 1: Halswell Park
The first instalment in the Halswell Park documentary series.
Through interviews with art and architecture historian Roy Bolton, conservation director Mark Lidster and project architect Claire Fear, we delve into the history and legacy of historic Halswell House, how it came into the hands of current owner Edward Strachan and his vision of restoring the manor to its former glory as a true British landmark.
Country Life magazine published the first of two articles focussing on Halswell.
This article contains valuable photographic evidence of the internal layouts of the rooms at the height of the Edwardian period.
(Click page below for full article)
Restoration of the Venison Hut
The Venison Hut, located in the South meadow of Halswell Park between the house and Robin Hood’s Hut on the crest of the hill, had all but disappeared completely by 2010. All that remained was a broken up flagstone and red brick floor and a pile of rotted eighteenth century timbers, some with paint fleck and old nails. Luckily these few remaining fragments were enough to piece back exactly the dimensions of the original building as well as its wooden structure. Enough remained that our on-site carpenter, Mr Mike Bridgwater who lives in Dormer House within the old Halswell estate, was able to precisely reproduce the building using traditional methods, materials and to the original specifications. Though the building does not appear on the eighteenth-century estate maps this seems likely to be an oversight due to its size and location under the large branches of some very early chestnut and oak trees. The building is due to be completed in the more clement weather of next spring, 2016, when its traditional weatherboarding is attached and the thatched roof is completed. The park may one day again see deer roaming through its fields, however the venison hut’s function as a larder to hang slaughtered deer is unlikely to see such a revival. The hut is in an ideal location as a viewing folly, commanding wonderful views over the Halswell estate and across the countryside out over the Bristol Channel and beyond to Wales. As such it will become a resting place hung with antlers for walkers or riders on their tours of the parkland.
Development seen through historic images from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Halswell Baroque North Wing, dated 1689. Painting c.1710
Formal Gardens, c.1710, by the same hand. The high redbrick walls, gate pillars with armorial beasts, fountain and formal layout were all demolished during the 1740’s as was the rectangular Banqueting House of c. 1690 in the centre ground which was gone by the mid-eighteenth century to make way for the circular Rotunda of 1755.
Edward Strachan discusses the historic park and gardens for Somerset Gardens Trust Magazine, Summer Edition
Edward Strachan discusses the historic park and gardens for Somerset Gardens Trust Magazine, Spring Edition