To visit the Gardens, Gallery and House, you no longer need to pre-book a timed admission slot online (simply purchase gardens admission on arrival). Summer Late openings take place every Wednesday evening.
The Rotunda is a beautiful reflective pool designed by Lutyens in the Edwardian formal gardens. From a design point of you it was a clever way to link lots of walkways, and has great views down the East rill onto the pergola.
But it is only beautiful sometimes!
After a good clean and a fresh refill, the rotunda will only take a matter of days to green up like this- especially in sunny weather- as the water is stagnant.
But this wasn't always the case.
It is actually designed with inflow and outflow pipes. The inflow comes from behind the orangery and the outflow goes underground, along the East rill and then dog legs to the West along the pergola and then South again through the fields and to the stream. The inflow still works but there is a blockage in the outflow. And this is what makes the water stagnant and turns it green. If the water was flowing in and out and there was movement this would be much less likely to happen.
Many people think that the central piece in the rotunda is a broken fountain but actually it is the plug, and the perorated metal top should act as an overflow.
In recent times to try and keep the pool reflective and clear, the formal team have had to siphon out the water using hose pipes, clean up the base and refill with hose pipes. But this takes so much time- it takes about a day to siphon and a day to clean and refill. It's really disheartening when it is green again in a matter of days. But it looks so lovely when it is done. The rotunda is part of the route down to the Orangery for brides so we always try and clean it up prior to a wedding. Unfortunately we have too many other jobs to do to keep it clean every day.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel...
The Somerset Gardens Trust have given us a grant to help towards fixing the problem.
To carry out the work we will need to lift some of those huge stones surrounding the pool where we think the blockage may be. We will try to clear the blockage and relay the stones. Then as a secondary tool to keep the water clear we are adding a UV filtration system. This will involve us digging up the stones that lead to the Victorian Terrace to lay down the cables and pipes so that they are out of sight.
This project will obviously prove quite disruptive for visitors so we are aiming to carry out the work in October when we are normally quieter. (We have 9 weddings in September and I would hate to see brides carrying their dresses over trenches by the rotunda!- and Julie White the wedding co-ordinator would KILL me!)
So please bare with us until the Autumn when hopefully all the rotunda's issues will be resolved.