The Dark Side of the Wall

There are some parts of Warley that have always been a mystery. This is mainly because of the way they’ve been represented (or not) in maps, photographs and even The Kip, despite their being – in theory at least – right in the middle of the pleasure garden.

That doesn’t mean that they will stay an enigma forever, and while time machines are, alas, still not even at prototype stage, we have the next best thing: archaeology:

Yesterday I took a lovely long walk around the ruins with Warley’s current owner Linda Carter and discovered that – joy! – even more has been discovered .

I have so much time for those volunteers – they never stop working there, every Monday and Wednesday, come rain, come shine.

It seems to me, at least, that they are rewarded every week with exciting new discoveries though I also know in my heart that a lot of that work is just grind – clearing paths, maintaining stuff and stopping everything tipping back over into chaos. Still – many such volunteers do all that in other places without the rewards of constant discovery…

There’s no room for all the new discoveries today, so I’m going to concentrate on a bit that really caught my imagination yesterday, a part of the garden I’d never really considered: the north exterior of the Walled Garden.

Now, there’s not really any reason to get excited about that part of the garden – or there wasn’t. As long as I’ve known it, it’s been so heavily jungle-d that the brain sort of blanks it out.

One of the most famous pictures of Warley is an Alfred Parsons painting that has been washing around the internet for years. It is actually is of that very area and still it’s been forgotten, just because everyone’s looking the other way – down the valley, at the lovely daffs. And who can blame them?

Recently, however, there’s been a big project stabilising the walls (I didn’t realise just how much they needed this…) and clearing around it, revealing Lovely Stuff.

Mostly it’s a fantastic wall, which the volunteers have given a baby camellia…

…but that’s not all

I didn’t know (or hadn’t registered) for example, that the northwest corner of the walled garden has a gorgeous curve to it:

…unlike its southwest-facing friend, which has a sharp corner:

Yesterday, however, I was walking around the outside and saw the latest discovery, on the other side. Take a quick look at the previous pic of that curved northern wall, checking the bottom – as you can see, there was nothing to photograph – so I didn’t. This was only the last day of February.

Yesterday, though – a new discovery! They’ve dug out the soil to reveal some wonderful brick steps:

…leading sinuously around that northwest curve. No one would have known to look for these – they do not appear on any map, and there are no Willmott photographs of it (so far).

Of course my next question was why? Warley’s back door was the other side – why would Ellen visit the summer house from the other angle? But this would have been the quickest route from the productive side of the property: the stables, greenhouses – and kitchens – and most of Ellen’s visitors would have taken the full tour. It would have been a good way for the servants to bring refreshments to the summer house.

There hasn’t (yet) been found a path hugging the length of the northwest wall, and I’m not sure there ever was one. Let’s take a look at the Kip:

Immediately north of that wall the artist has done some hatching. At first I thought it was a path, but the artist has a different finish for paths. I’m pretty sure it’s just shadow, which doesn’t help us. For the moment, we just don’t know. Given it’s a dark, cold, exposed wall, it certainly wouldn’t have been prime growing space, which was reserved for the south facing wall:

However, there is plenty else. There are some remains of the hothouses:

though some has been damaged by vandals over Lockdown, who must have been dancing along the top of the walls:

and some is a bit overgrown:

One of these, at least, would have been for Ellen’s orchids, and there was also a pergola, nothing of which remains, except Alfred Parsons’s painting:

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Here it is on the Kip:

The curly paths, however, do appear still to be there. The main path from the pergola has been cleared for some time…

…but it looks as though some more work has been done, revealing the serpentine feel:

which in time may show the curly path around the (long-gone) tree:

I always look at these paths, made out of individual pebbles and think of the poor individual tasked with making them.

On the Kip, that path seems to lead to the shaded bit, so perhaps there is more to find.

But then there is always more to find and I trust the Warley Place Volunteers to find it. If anyone out there fancies joining them, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. And they’d love to have you, Christine, but you help in so many ways!


  2. Christine McLaughlin says:

    Yet another intriguing story with loads of question marks! Thank you Sandra keep up the good work. If I lived anywhere near Warley Place I would certainly be one of the volunteers.
    Best wishes, Christine


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