Marble Hill House to unveil bowling green based on 18th century discovery

A new bowling green modelled on an 18th century discovery will be open to members of the public at Marble Hill House in Twickenham from next year.

The original bowling alley was designed by Henrietta Howard, and was used as a leisure pursuit for friends and family.

The bowling green is part of a wider Marble Hill redevelopment plan, whereby both the house and gardens will be renovated.

English Heritage Landscape Adviser Emily Parker said: “It’s very exciting. I’m a garden historian by trade and it’s not very often that you get to restore this very important period of garden design and put it into practice on the ground.

“The house itself is a beautiful 18th century style house. Creating the landscape which once surrounded it reunites the two together. At the moment it feels very much like a house stuck in a public park, which doesn’t have much connection to its landscape.

“There’s going to be a flower garden, lots of new planting of avenues of trees going in. It’s going to be transformed to become more of a garden, rather than have a public park feel to it.”

The project will be opened in two stages, the first of which will see a new café and play area open its doors in the spring.

Entry into the house and gardens will be without charge, while members of the public will also be able to enjoy the bowling green for free.

The outdoor nine-pin bowling alley will be played on a clay surface and with a ball smaller than a typical modern sized bowling ball.

“Sometimes you can find them in very old pubs, but they are very rare in historic gardens. They were only fashionable for 20 years or so beginning in the 1730s. It’s a great example of something you won’t really see anywhere else,” Parker said.

The garden restoration is based on an 18th century survey, as well as a range of archaeological investigations.

The project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is part of a plan to make not only the house accessible, but to join both the house and garden back together once more.

“The aim is to give something back to our local visitors, but also to encourage visitors to come and visit Marble Hill as an attraction,” Parker said.

Featured image credit: English Heritage

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