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Fringe Festival Event – guided walk of the gardens & landscape of Chalfont Park


John Lovelock
photograph John Lovelock

Claire de Carle as part of the festival organised a guided walk round the gardens and landscape of Chalfont Park on the afternoon of Thursday 27th June and the weather was kind. A big thank you to those that joined her for this one off event.

photograph Claire de Carle

Claire gave an insight into the fascinating history of this local site, which today has a commercial use with the recent addition of luxury flats. The locals know it from the footpaths that traverse the site but are probably unaware of its long history and illustrious former inhabitants.

Chalfont Park has associations with many prominent local families including the Brudenells (C15/16), the Bulstrodes with a tenuous link to Judge Jefferies and the Churchills. Horace Walpole was related by marriage to Charles Churchill, Walpole’s ‘committee of taste’ advised on the design of a new house in ‘Strawberry Hill gothic style’ the C18.

Charles Churchill (1732-64) was the most scandalous resident, although he probably did not actually reside at home very often! He was a poet satirist and not very credible clergyman. He died about a week after William Hogarth (artist, satirist) with whom he had been engaged in an ongoing dispute that only the death of one of them could have resolved. Churchill lived fast and dirty, and died young, more detail were revealed!

The Hibbert family lived at Chalfont during the C19, they made numerous improvements to the property using their ill-gotten gains from the slave trade on their Jamaican Plantation. Thomas Hibbert was a patron of the arts and Thomas Girtin and J.M.W. Turner were invited to paint watercolours of the park.

The gardens at Chalfont Park were once magnificent, the C18 landscape was laid out by the foremost landscaper of his day, Lancelot (Capability) Brown, who created a lake and planted mature trees, this was developed and extended by Humphry Repton in the late C18. During the early C20 Sir Edwin Lutyens made additions, including an Italianate Garden (now gone). With the use of maps, plans and historic photographs Claire was able  to illustrate the development of the garden, however, much of this has not survive.

The Gardens Trust – Nigel Temple Collection



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