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Latitude: 51.0983 / 51°5'53"N
Longitude: -3.0729 / 3°4'22"W
OS Eastings: 324971
OS Northings: 133768
OS Grid: ST249337
Mapcode National: GBR M2.C3BC
Mapcode Global: FRA 46G6.STR
Entry Name: Grotto
Listing Date: 7 August 2006
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1391741
English Heritage Legacy ID: 495882
Location: Goathurst, Sedgemoor, Somerset, TA5
Civil Parish: Goathurst
Traditional County: Somerset
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset
1873/0/10011 HALLSWELL PARK
Rockwork grotto at southern end of Mill Wood. Mid-C18 for Sir Charles Tynte. Attributed to the architect and landscape gardener, Thomas Wright. Built of sandstone rubble.
PLAN: Consists of three separate arched recesses which have been built into the hillside and together form a semi-circular plan.
EXTERIOR: All are built in a rustic style with a front 'wall' of thin rubble brought to course and a semi-circular head to the open archway. The south eastern recess has an inscribed stone plaque on its external face referring to Moses drawing water from a rock. A natural spring, with a C20 brick capping, rises in front of this recess. This capping is not of special interest. A curved, sloping pathway whose sides are faced with coursed rubble enters the grotto from the south west.
INTERIOR: Internally the walls of the recesses are also of exposed sandstone rubble, and except for the south western one, which contains a set of timber shelving, probably of C20 date, all are bare.
HISTORY: The grotto is situated on the western edge of Halswell Park; a grade II registered park and garden. The existing parkland around Halswell House was developed into a 'natural' landscape after 1740 when the estate was inherited by Sir Charles Tynte. These pleasure grounds comprise three distinct areas, linked by rides and drives through the parkland. That in Mill Wood appears to have developed in the 1750s from an existing area of woodland and was intended to stimulate a variety of emotional responses in the visitor. The grotto is sited at the head of a chain of six ponds, formed by damming a stream, and linked by cascades and other ornamental structures.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: This is a substantially intact mid-C18 grotto that contributes to Wright's overall design of the landscaped parkland around Halswell House. It is associated with a number of contemporary garden structures with which it has strong group value and is an indicative feature of C18 landscape design.
The Victoria County History of Somerset (1992), ed. R W Downing
History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset (1791) Rev. J Collinson.
Country Life XXIV November 21 (1908) pp 702
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