Monday, September 28, 2009
Garden History Image of the Week: New view of Chatsworth
Joseph Paxton's 1844 'Emperor' Fountain at Chatsworth as seen by '225.5º ARC X 5' by Bernar Venet. Part of "Beyond Limits", a Sotheby's selling exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture currently installed on the grounds. Get your bid in by November 15, if you're so inclined.
The Emperor fountain, with a maximum height of 296 feet, is entirely ego-powered, having been commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire in 1843 to surpass the fountains of Peterhof in anticipation of the impending visit of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. The work, including digging an eight-acre reservoir 110 meters above the house to supply the water under gravity-pressure, proceeded even at night under the light of flares and the project was completed in just six months. Alas, the Tsar never came.
But the water pressure was used to provide Chatsworth's electricity from 1893 to 1936, and after the installation of a new turbine in 1988 currently produces about a third of house's daily requirements; a thoroughly modern use of what was once just a garden fancy. I'm wondering if any other gardens have put their historic hydraulics to such a use...if you know of one, get in touch!