Taking the long approach to Wimpole Hall

It is such an arresting view when you approach Wimpole Hall from the south: A wide open space focussed on the house by maturing parallel avenues of trees. The irony is that most people see this view (if at all) whilst they are speeding along the A603 to Cambridge.

Wimpole Hall, South avenue

Wimpole Hall from the South Avenue

This grand South Avenue was carved into the countryside by Charles Bridgeman, a landscape-architect working for then owner Lord Harley, during the 1720s. It is certainly feels like a statement of power and influence. (There is even a suggestion that the great South Avenue was intended as the start of a direct route to Whitehall).

Today the South avenue consists of over 2 miles of parallel lime trees planted as a double avenue (planted 50 feet apart across a space of 90 yards), but the original trees were elms that were sadly lost to disease in the 1970s.

If you stroll away from the house along the length of the avenue you will encounter ha-has, cross the old roman road leading west of Cambridge (also known as Akeman Street), find a huge octagonal basin, (designed to be water-filled but now a reed bed with central island), cross two rivers, and finally join Ermine Street (A1168 – a second roman road).

It was this end of the South Avenue that was used between 1942-1945 as concealed parking by the B-17 bombers of the 323rd Bomb Squadron on pads hidden amongst the elm trees. If you stop to take a look, you will find a plaque showing this arrangement and commemorating the dedication of the airmen.

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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