Nicola here. I was woken in the night by the sound of a downpour of rain, which was very welcome as the UK has been enduring a summer of drought. One of the consequences of this is that river and lake levels have fallen dramatically over the past few months and fields and gardens have dried out. This has led to ancient buildings and structures being revealed that have been lost for centuries, giving us a glimpse into the past that we wouldn’t usually have. It's not the way you would choose to discover more about history but it is an opportunity to learn more about what lies beneath our feet – or in some cases, rivers and reservoirs.
At Lydiard Park where I am a trustee of the Friends charity, we arranged for some drone photography to see if we could see any detail of the seventeenth century gardens that we knew had been swept away when the grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown in the Georgian era. (Photo credit Phil Jefferies and copyright Friends of Lydiard Park). The results were even more exciting than we had imagined! We knew from early maps that the previous Elizabethan-style manor house had had extensive gardens leading down to a canal and lake. From the air these were clearly visible in a grid pattern that would originally have contained a gravel forecourt, formal flowerbeds, topiary, paths and terraces. It’s been a fascinating insight. A similar thing happened at Chatsworth where the drought revealed the outline of the Great Parterre which was designed in 1699.