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Visit to Bramham 24 May 2017

On the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far about 30 LAF members met at Bramham, dodging between the stars and film crew of the next series of Victoria. Patrick Eyres introduced us to the architectural ambiguities of the baroque mansion built for the 1st Lord Bingley – Leoni ? Gibbs ? Archer ? Benson ? Paine ?, Detmar Blow ? – and Stuart, the House Manager told us the story of the family and gave us a spirited tour of the house. We particularly admired the portraits and sporting pictures and some of the Edwardian baroque furniture clearly supplied after the rebuilding from 1906. James Paine’s Chapel, formerly an orangery, was opened specially for us to admire the monuments to Bingley and his daughter Harriet attributed to Carlini.
After lunch Susan Kellerman, who has made a special study of the history of the landscape at Bramham, led us on a leisurely but thorough perambulation of the magnificent park, frequently referring to early maps and other documents. It is probably the best preserved and most extensive baroque landscape in Britain, untouched by the picturesque or later movements and now in a continuous process of restoration. Our route took us from the newly revived parterre and cascade by the Broadwalk, along converging beech allées, 18ft high, to the enigmatic Stone Nymph and Four Faces Urn; thence through long avenues to the Open Temple, perhaps designed by Harriet, to the bastion, and the T Pond and canal. From here we enjoyed the delightful Batty Langley Gothick temple and nearby the slightly later Gothic ‘Museum’. We proceeded beyond the Obelisk Ponds and cascade to the smaller water features beyond, across the valley to the sombre Round Temple, the Obelisk and the Lead Lads Temple, by now well within the 18th century ‘Wilderness’. Everywhere we saw evidence of recent improvements and careful management ensuring that this magical world is preserved and enhanced.