Painshill Gardens - 10/10/2016 - Tonbridge U3A-Travel

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Painshill Gardens - 10/10/2016

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An excellent trip, stunning gardens and beautiful weather.
Thanks to Margaret and Amy and our driver Archie
Geoff & Sue

I had never heard of Painshill Gardens and Follies even though it is not too far away in Cobham. We arrived at 10 am on a sunny autumn day and had a drink before joining a tour guide.
Painshill, a 158 acres landscape garden, was created by Charles Hamilton in the 18th century but, after several owners, it was left to fall into disrepair until the Painshill Trust took it over 35 years ago. Over the years they have restored it to its former glory although it is a work in progress. It is now Grade 1 listed and has received numerous awards.
Hamilton took his inspiration for the gardens from his Grand Tour of Europe especially Italy. There was the option of the short or long tour and we were so glad we chose the long one. Our guide led us through the grounds and past several follies, explaining the history and reasoning behind them. One in particular stood out, The Crystal Grotto, which is very unusual and fascinating. At Christmas it becomes Santa’s grotto with lights strung up and must look magical to little ones.
There is a large lake and other smaller ones which are fed by the River Mole by a waterwheel that was turning when we visited it. There are trees from North America including the Toothache tree. Different themes run through the park including the Amphitheatre, Chinese Bridge Peninsular and Elysian Fields.
The tour lasted for about 3 hours and was informative and the grounds are stunning with beautiful views from several vantage points. It must be wonderful when autumn is in full swing. By now we were ready for lunch and the café had a good choice.
Another very enjoyable outing excellently organised as usual thanks to Margaret, Amy and the travel team. Geoff has put some gorgeous photos on the website that will give a real flavour of the Park.
Penny Hawney
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