Acting Chairman Neil Ramshaw opened the meeting with the very sad news of the death of Chairman Michael Cochrane’s wife Pam. All our sympathies and condolences are sent to him and his family.

Four apologies were offered to the meeting and a letter acknowledging a donation of £40 made on behalf of Mr Douglas Webb, who spoke to us a fortnight ago, had been received from  Harrogate Homeless Project. This donation had been requested in lieu of a Speaker’s fee.

Today saw a returning Speaker Mr Michael Bevington, amongst other things a volunteer with the National Trust at Fountains and Studley Royal, whose topic would take us on “A Walk Around The Studley Water Garden”. This charming presentation detailed some of the history of the Gardens and Estate taking us back to 1180 and the first Lord of the Manor Richard De Aleman and the surprising fact that the same family / descendants had been involved with the estate up until 1966 albeit with different names to reflect marriages etc. (Mallory , Aislabie’s.) The real development of the gardens started in the seventeenth/ eighteenth century under the stewardship of George Aislalbie and the gardens were built and developed on formal lines, as the custom from France, to impress, entertain and tease or tantalize visitors. The Aislabie family had a chequered history with George Senior killed in a duel, his son John a politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer disgracing himself with his nefarious involvement in the South Sea Bubble scandal and his son William surviving a tragic fire and then serving for 60 years as Ripon M.P. 1721—1781. Both John and William were heavily involved in the Garden’s continued developments and relied on the employment over many years of Robert Dove. In 2010 a major restoration and conservation project was initiated at a cost of £1 million pounds to restore the Garden’s to their 1781 status. Metal Entrance Gates which had been requisitioned and lost during World War 2 were by a stroke of good fortune found and repurchased from Kirby Moorside. With their walks, water features, follies and Greek inspired statues it is clear that the original Aislabie aim to create one of the most spectacular Georgian Garden’s in this country has been maintained and enhanced and the audience, very familiar with the location, asked a number of pertinent and thoughtful questions at the conclusion of the talk.

The Vote of Thanks was given by Vincent Naylor on behalf of the 36 attendees.


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