Latest Restoration Project

restoration project at Painshill

Replacing the Woollett Bridge

Our 40th anniversary appeal

We urgently need to replace the Woollett Bridge to keep the circular route open and protect this beautiful view. Please help by donating today.

The History of the Woollett Bridge

The Woollett Bridge sits on the west side of Grotto Island, and is shown in an engraving by William Woollett in 1760 (Woollett was named as the most famous British engraver of his day by the British Museum). The bridge forms part of the historic route, a circular walk with a series of scenes, continually changing and mystifying. It is vital to the landscape as it allows visitors to leave Grotto Island and continue on towards the Mausoleum. From the bridge you can see various follies dotted around the landscape, including the Turkish Tent, and the Temple of Bacchus.

The existing bridge is based on a design by Italian architect Andrea Palladio, in his book Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture (Hamilton subscribed to Isaac Ware’s 1738 edition of Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture, which was clearly a source of ideas to him). Whilst there was no bridge evident when restoration began, the brick foundations were discernible and were restored so that the re-created bridge could stand in the same place.  

Why does the bridge need replacing?

You may remember that in December 2019 and again in February 2020 Painshill flooded. The bridge, made of softwood timber, was under water for about two weeks. The wood did not dry out properly and is now rotting.

The bridge is being regularly monitored to check for movement and to assess the bridge’s stability. It is not practical to fully repair the bridge, however, we have temporarily installed columns under the cross beams, to support the bridge. These ensure that the bridge is safe to walk on while we raise money for a replacement.  

If the bridge were to collapse before we are able to replace it, we would need to pay for a pontoon to keep this route open. Not only would this be unsightly, it would quickly become very costly.

Donate today to help replace the bridge

Painshill Park Trust is raising money to replace the bridge, so that visitors can enjoy the historic route all year long. We will have discussions around what style the bridge will be, and whether the existing bridge style is the most authentic one for the replacement. We will make a decision based on evidence available and archives of paintings and engravings and using information from our Landscapes and Restoration Committee. Painshill’s restoration has been as a result of painstaking work over the last 40 years.

As Hamilton left no diaries or estate papers, every detail found through research has added to the Painshill story. For example, whilst the Woollett engraving shows the design that the existing bridge is based on, other paintings show the bridge as a curve, however, this may be as a result of artistic licence, rather than fact. Hamilton was at Painshill for 35 years and in this time he may have needed to replace the bridge several times. As fashions and styles change, it is possible that the design of the bridge may also have changed over time.

Our 40th anniversary appeal is to raise the funds needed during 2021 so that we can replace the bridge during 2022. It is estimated that it will cost £120,000-£130,000 to complete this work.

Please donate today to help replace the Woollett Bridge.

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