We were delighted to learn last month that the Somerset Gardens Trust has generously donated £1,000 towards the cost of restoring and conserving the rotunda in Hestercombe’s fantastic formal garden. Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and built between 1904 and 1908 after he and Gertrude Jekyll were commissioned to create the formal garden at Hestercombe, the rotunda was built to link the garden’s different paths and had, at its centre, a beautiful reflecting pool (which you can see to the right in a 1908 edition of Country Life magazine).
The pool has inflow and outflow pipes that are supposed to help aerate the water and minimise algae content, but a blockage in the outflow pipe means the water cannot circulate around the garden and rapidly stagnates as a result. What was originally conceived as a beautiful reflecting pool instead does nothing of the sort, taking on a murky brown/green colour that requires the gardens team to empty and then refill the rotunda on a weekly basis.
The financial support of the Somerset Gardens Trust will enable the Hestercombe gardeners to get rid of the obstruction and then install a state-of-the-art integrated pump equipped with UV filters. This will ensure that the water can circulate without further impediment and that silt and algae-causing bacteria are kept to a minimum. Their donation will not only fund the associated costs of removing the obstruction, therefore, but the new pump and filters will also ensure the rotunda remains blockage-free for generations to come and that the reflecting pool can, well, reflect!
Speaking about this donation and their work more broadly, Helen Senior – Grants Officer for the Somerset Gardens Trust (visit their website here) – commented that “The key purpose of the Somerset Gardens Trust is to record, preserve and enhance gardens of interest within the county. To this end we research the history of gardens and keep a watching brief on developments which may affect the historic landscape. We also make grants to schools in order to nurture interest in gardens in the next generation, give grants for specific projects in significant gardens and also have a very enjoyable program of visits, talks and social events! We are very privileged to have a garden such as Hestercombe within our area, and are very pleased to be able to support this project.”
We hope that by the end of the year the Lutyens rotunda will be fully restored, flowing and reflecting, with visitors able to look upon it as the Portman family would have over one-hundred years ago. Our busy gardens team will then be able to turn to one of the many other restoration and conservation projects that require their attention and, of course, the kind of funding so generously awarded to us here by the Somerset Gardens Trust.