Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Gothic Ruin at Frogmore

From Royal Central:
The Gothic Ruin was one such folly which was erected in the grounds of Frogmore in the 1790s, following the purchase of Frogmore Farm and then the estate of Great Frogmore in September 1792. The gardens at Frogmore were particularly loved by Queen Charlotte and provided a peaceful background for recreation and ‘botanizing’, with her daughters, in a kind of English echo of Marie Antoinette’s personal retreat of the Petit Trianon. The Ruin was designed by the architect James Wyatt, who was aided by the Queen’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who probably helped decorate the exquisite upper room of Queen Charlotte’s Cottage at Kew, resplendent with rich floral garlands, forming a floating pergola over the Gothic ceiling. Further evidence of Princess Elizabeth’s remarkable artistry may be seen in the Cross Gallery at Frogmore House, featuring paper cut-outs and flower panels, dating also from the 1790s; her decoration of the Chinoiserie rooms at Frogmore was captured in Pyne’s Royal Residences but sadly do not survive today. Similarities with a type of ‘Strawberry Hill Gothic’ could also be seen, given the fact that the building of Horace Walpole’s Gothic Revival villa was begun in the late 1740s and was in itself, highly iconic.

Princess Elizabeth designed several Gothic follies for the gardens at Frogmore, including ‘moss huts, Gothic ruins and octagonal temples’ (Flora Fraser, Princesses, Pg 144, 2004). The ‘octagonal temple’ referred to a Gothic Temple of Solitude, and the ‘huts’ were more precisely, a thatched Hermitage and a barn (or garden) ballroom; the aforementioned Gothic Ruin is the only one of these earlier buildings to survive today. Another hut, known as the ‘Swiss Seat’, is still to be found near the lake but instead was only erected much later, possibly in 1833. A series of engravings by Henry Edridge showing Queen Charlotte and her daughters at Frogmore in the early 19th century also features one of Princess Elizabeth, sat in repose by the lake, with what may perhaps be the Gothic Ruin in the background. (Read more.)

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