A foggy day at Painshill

landscape garden

Turkish tent and five arch bridge

As regular readers of this blog will know, one of my favourite local locations is Painshill Park, an eighteenth century landscape garden in Cobham. When I woke up one morning late last month to find a heavy fog, I took my trusty Fuji down to Painshill for a ramble.

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Gothic temple and five arch bridge

The mist had coated everything in the finest dew and the spiders’ webs were looking stunning against early Autumn foliage.

Autumn web

Autumn web

Every tuft of grass bore a sparkling hammock of silk.

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Hammocks of gossamer and dew

Berries of every hue reminded me that, in the words of the immortal Keats, this was a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

berries and leaves

Red berries



Not to be outdone, fungi of all kinds were busy decorating the grass,

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A toadstool in the park

the forest floor,

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Toadstools in the wood

and every tree stump.


Bracken fungus (maybe)

Most of the trees had yet to start turning, but there were a few obliging maples dropping their pastel leaves prettily onto the banks of Painshill Lake, just to give me some foreground interest.

folly and autumn leaves

The ruined abbey

In the mist, everything was still. Even sound seemed to be muffled, and it felt as if I had the whole park to myself.

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Painshill Lake

The Grotto was closed but I explored the outside.

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View through the Grotto window

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Nature colonising the Grotto

I often think the Gothic Tower, one of Painshill’s many follies, is a little too pretty to be truly gothic, but in the mist it did look a little bit spooky. A very little bit.

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The Gothic Tower

In the woods, I came across these dens, no doubt made by parties of children. Blair Witch, anyone?

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‘Mysterious’ dens

They were not far from The Hermitage, one of my favourite follies.

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The Hermitage

For a while in the eighteenth century, every self-repecting landscape garden had to have a hermit. Painshill was no exception although story has it that the first man hired for the job lasted only two weeks before he was discovered in a local hostelry drowning his sorrows! He was never replaced.

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Inside the Hermitage

Every time I go to Painshill I find something new, whether it be one of nature’s works of art or a fragment of the craft of people.

stone carving

A fragment of times past

I made a mental note to go back again later this month to see the Park in its full Autumn glory.

Painshill Park

The Chinese Bridge

Another of my posts about Painshill, including some of its history, is here.



Painshill Park, in Cobham, Surrey, is one of my very favourite local photography locations. An eighteenth century landscape garden, with several ‘follies’ ideally positioned to be ‘picturesque’ in the true sense of the term, it pleases the camera in any season. The top image is a view of the Lake from the Gothic Temple.


‘Painshill was created between 1738 and 1773 by the Hon Charles Hamilton, 9th son and 14th child of 6th Earl of Abercorn. A painter, plantsman and brilliantly gifted and imaginative designer, he dedicated his creative genius to the layout and composition of a landscape garden which was unique in Europe and still remains so.’


‘Painshill was created as a romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of the visitor…The gardens were among the earliest to reflect the changing fashion from geometric formality to the naturalistic style.’

The ruined abbey catches the morning sun. The use of still water to create reflections was one of the typical elements in landscape gardens of the period.

‘Rescuing and restoring this exceptional Grade I landscape has been very challenging and difficult but ultimately exceedingly rewarding, capped with the award of the rare Europa Nostra Medal in 1998 “for the exemplary restoration from a state of extreme neglect, of a most important 18th century landscape park and its extraordinary buildings”. Painshill Park is of international importance and therefore The Painshill Park Trust now has a long-term aim to become a world heritage site.’


The Park is big enough that it never feels crowded. Largely maintained and staffed by volunteers, it is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit.


The grotto is another of the follies, and it looks very spooky in fog. Father Christmas holds court inside every year.


There is even a working vineyard.


Wildlife abounds…


… from the small…


…to the not so small.

If you are ever in the area, Painshill Park is a must see!


There are more images in my Flickr set.