Thursday, September 11, 2008

Searching for Regency England

Did you miss me? Or did you take a peak at the other blog? It seems there is a new catch phrase for writers who guest blog and no one turns up, you are No Friends Nigela. I don't know if anyone has seen that cooking show? I like her, but lots of folks don't apparently. Anyway, I wasn't lonely lucy either. So now back to our regular programming.

I got a bit sidetracked over the past few months and there were one or two more places I wanted to bring to you from my last research trip.

Both of them are in Wales. The first one I wanted to chat about is Margam. Margam Park is built on the site of an abbey (closed in 1536).

The house pictured here was designed in 1827 and completed over the next several year. So it is Georgian, but not Regency. It is definitely romantic, with its mock battlements, clusters of tudor twisted chimneys, turrets and pinnacles. A great central pile of the house rises to a majestic octagonal tower. The architect was Thomas Hopper. The view of it here is the back of the house, which overlooks the park. It really is a ruin inside. So sad. But it is also gorgeous and fascinating and could just as easily have been built during the Regency, so I present it here.

These steps, to the west, lead to the orangery, which was finished in 1793, at the same time as the original house was being torn down.


It was built to contain a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees. There were a great many legends about the origin of the trees, which indicate that while they were destined to be delivered to the crown the ship foundered and were claimed by the Mansells. Sounds like there might be a story in there somewhere.

By the mid 18th century there were over one hundred trees in greenhouses all over the park, and while they can stay outside in the summer, they must be taken in for the winter because of low temperatures. This orangery is gorgeous. It is long and narrow with 27 tall south facing windows to admit winter light and the plain black wall has fireplaces from which hot air passes through flues. It is beautifully augmented by fountains along its length, deeply-worked stone, friezes and sculptured urns

We have talked about orangeries before and this one has to be added as one of the most gorgeous ones of our era.

There is lots more to say about Margam, so I will continue next time.

Until next time, Happy Ramble.