10 Jul 2015

The Gardens at Chatsworth (3)

Chatsworth is well known for its water features. The flow cycle is powered not by pumps but by gravity alone and the water system has been used in the house and gardens for over three hundred years when the 1st Duke of Devonshire devised and installed it.
Rain that falls on the moors above the estate drains into man-made conduits and then into the Swiss Lake, the Emperor Lake and the Ring Pond. The water then flows down and over an aqueduct and then underground to the Cascade Pond above the Cascade. At the bottom of the Cascade a pipe feeds other fountains and ponds in the garden. It also carries water to the house and stables.
From the Emperor Lake a direct underground pipe feeds into the Canal Pond and the water then flows away down another cascade, the Quebec Cascade, into the River Derwent.  The Emperor Fountain in the Canal Pond can reach heights of up to 90 metres without a pump because of the pressure of the water which drops down through a narrow pipe for some 100+ metres. The Emperor pipe also feeds water-powered turbines and since 1893 the house has had a supply of electricity.

One of the features of 17th, 18th and 19th century gardens in grand estates was the use of water to create drama and even playfulness.  At Chatsworth one of these is the Willow Tree Fountain which was made for the 1st Duke, William Cavendish, (1640-1707). It was an artificial tree of brass which squirted water from the branches. When Queen Victoria, aged thirteen, visited Chatsworth she called it 'the squirting tree'.  A 19th century copy of the original can still be seen in the gardens. The Cascade Temple also has the capacity to squirt water up through holes in the floor which might or might not amuse unsuspecting guests!
The present Duke continues the tradition of installing kinetic sculptural art as well as displaying other works of art as exhibition pieces. There's always something new to discover in the gardens.

The above piece of permanent art was installed in 1999. The stainless steel and resin flower sculpture is called 'Revelation' and was created by Angela Connor.
'Moved by the weight of water and gravity from the lakes above, the inner sphere is filled with water causing it to descend.  This makes the outer leaves close over it as if protectively holding a secret.  A syphon then discharges the water. The lightened sphere rises. The leaves open out to reveal the preciously held secret before the cycle begins again'. (information taken from a plaque by the sculpture).

The Temple and Cascade

The Canal Pond can be viewed from the south side of the House.

The Emperor Fountain

The South-East corner of the House.

The Ring Pond was originally part of an area designed as one of the 1st Duke's formal 'wildernesses'.  

The sculptures around the Ring Pond and along the walk leading to the Rockery are in the style of ancient Greek 'herms'.  They were made for Lord Burlington's garden in Chiswick in 1700.

Water channels lead to Strid Pond in the Rockery. You can read about my previous visit to see the Rockery here.

The Trout Stream is a narrow rill that also channels water from the moor above into the garden, meandering down to a rocky waterfall from where it feeds the lower formal ponds. On its way it passes through narrow stone channels and down shallow water falls.
I followed along by the stream as it flowed through meadow grasses where there were wild flowers and moisture loving plants growing beside the water.