September 19, 2016
Are we making the most of what water we have in our gardens? Here is Celia Fiennes, a gentlewoman garden touring in the 1680’s, describing Wilton House.
‘…the river runns through the garden that easeily conveys by pipes water to all parts. (A) grottoe at the end of the garden…. its garnished with many fine figures of the Goddesss, and about 2 yards off the door is severall pipes in a line that with a sluce spoutts water up to wett the Strangers; in the middle roome is a round table, a large pipe in the midst, on which they put a crown or gun or a branch, and so it spouts the water through the carvings and poynts all round the roome at the Artists pleasure to wet the company; there are figures at each corner of the roome that can weep water on the beholders, and by a straight pipe on the table they force up the water into the hollow carving of the roof like a crown or coronet to appearance, but is hollow within to retaine the water forced into ti in great quantetyes, that disperses in the hollow cavity over the roome and descends in a shower of raine all about the roome; on each side is two little roomes which by the turning their wires the water runnes in the rockes you see and hear it, and also it is so contrived in one room that it makes the melody of Nightingerlls and all sorts of birds which engaged the curiosity of the Strangers to go in to see, but at the entrance off each room, is a line of pipes that appear not till by a sluce moved it washes the spectators, designed for diversion.’
Have we lost our sense of humour?