Sunday, 23 May 2010

Restored to gilted glory

part of the nineteenth century wall for the walled garden

One of the places we like to spend some time at weekends is a local Country Park - it's close to family if we have to return quickly and there's not a lot of driving involved in getting there. There are walks, woods, a maze, plenty of wildlife and birds; there are beautiful views over the North Channel and the Antrim Coastline.

There is also a 19th century walled garden which is now laid out in flower beds, trees, benches and a collection of sundials, both freestanding and placed on the old wall. The wall is the original one that was built for the estate, and the brickwork is weathered, mellow and has a lovely mixture of colours throughout it.

It's a tranquil, beautiful place to spend some time. This is one of the more complicated sun dials, displayed there. As you can see it's a highly decorative piece of work as well as a practical instrument.

Over the last few years, my favourite sundial has been a much simpler one - it's round with a clown's face in the centre. The clown is playing a flute and it's the shadow of the flute that tells the time. I've always loved it for the details in and the expression on his face. Not clowning at all, he has a quiet dignity.

Inevitably over the years he's become weathered and at some stage his nose disappeared as well as his left hand, so he looked a little the worse for wear - but none the less dignified throughout.

On our last visit about two weeks ago we found that the clown had been restored, and not very sympathetically. He's been given a replacement nose and a (bad) paint job.

I find it hard to believe that this was how he was originally meant to look, gilded like a piece of very cheap jewellry, with a nose that has been carelessly stuck on and the cracks simply painted over. It made me wonder where the value is in restoring something when after restoration it actually looks worse and in the end loses the character that the years have given it.

I really hope that this will weather down as the time goes on and will begin to fit into it's surroundings a little more sympathetically. The picture below, showing the path in the walled garden, with the sundials on the left wall, shows how it fails to blend in at all at the moment.

I'll continue to pay my respects when we visit, after all underneath the badly applied make up is the same face that I've come to love; perhaps he'll reappear once again when the autumn and winter winds and rain have had their way.


  1. I completely agree with you that weathered is a darn sight better than many restorations. I always watch work on old buildings in town with some anxiety for the same reason.

    Do you know that you've got your comment facility set to 'no reply'? If its on purpose forgive me for saying...

    I wrote you an email then realised it wouldn't send, so here it is instead!!

    Oh Heckety was just IMPOSSIBLE! It wasn't bottled water- it was Pimms and Belgian Chocolates she wanted! And someone to walk the dogs while she chatted, but she was reasonably polite, for once....

    You do make me laugh!!

    I included your daisy photograph in my Summer Dayz Treasury! Click on the 'My Treasuries' at the top on the blog and then the link, if you want to admire your work!!

  2. Wow, what a lovely place to have close by to visit whenever you want. I agree that the 'restoration' of the sundial does not do it justice; probably because of budget I'd guess.