Monday 16 May 2011

Claremont Landscape Garden, Portsmouth Road, Esher, Surrey

Although the National Trust says Claremont Landscape Garden is of national importance, the lay visitor may find it hard to get excited. The eighteenth century landscaping is undoubtedly impressive, but Claremont isn't that large (at 49 acres) or that varied. One side of it is dominated by a lake, complete with a small island and stone pavilion, swans, ducks, geese and their droppings, surrounded by patches of woodland and open grass. There are some fine old trees and some atmospheric paths up and down the hillsides, but the garden isn't big enough for a satisfying walk and you can hear the hum of traffic on the nearby A-road. The grassy amphitheatre is cordoned off so children can't hurtle up and down its inviting tiers. Still, it is worth taking the back route up to the top for an elevated view of the lake and across to the the eighteenth century Belvedere Tower. The tower is generally closed and the original Claremont House is now an independent school, so there isn't that much to see. But children will like the substantial and solid wooden playground, with its mini castle, and the tea room serves some fine cakes. Claremont Landscape Garden is just about worth the standard six pound admission charge. 7/10