Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rievaulx Terrace, Yorkshire, England

Rievaulx Terrace was created in the 1750s by Thomas Duncombe II. He wanted a place to bring his guests from Duncombe Park where they could enjoy a stroll and fantastic views, as well as a fine meal. He had the terrace flattened and put up two small temples for entertaining. Now the property is part of the National Trust and is open to visitors who want to appreciate the view and picnic, maybe not in the style of Duncombe's guests.

We arrived and took the recommended route, walking through a woodland glade on the way to the Tuscan Temple. The path was long but held plenty of interest for us.

Actually, it looks like only one choice

We came upon the sky glade, a spot where tree trunks are set up at an angle so visitors can rest and appreciate the sky. We all tried it out.

J reads about sky glade

Looks a little like a stone circle

L glades

The view

Further on is the natural play area, with physical challenges and stick dens galore.

L discovers stepping stumps

J and L at one stick den

J in the deluxe stick den

The trail ended by the Tuscan Temple, built toward the end of the 1750s. The appearance is based on the Temple of Vesta in Rome and has been known as the Tuscan Temple since it was built. The Tuscan style has a plain entablature (the area just above the columns) and the columns have bases. On this temple, the entablature has a variety of decorations and the columns are directly on the floor, which is the Doric style. Whoops!

J runs to the (supposedly) Tuscan Temple!

Side view (note, columns without bases!)

The far side of the temple (note decorations above the columns!)

Detail of the decorated entablature

J and L enjoyed measuring their height against the temple base (it's about 5.5 feet at its highest) and peeking inside.

One table all alone, not very good for a picnic

The ornate ceiling

The painting at the top

We had our own picnic lunch outside the Tuscan Temple and then walked across the terrace to the Ionic Temple. Along the way, the views down to Rievaulx Abbey and over the countryside were impressive, along with the fake horse and the old Carriage Entrance to the terrace (you don't think Duncombe's guests walked to the terrace, do you?).

The terrace is just a bunch of grass

Rievaulx Abbey below

More of the abbey

L and the horse sculpture

The old Carriage Entrance

The Ionic Temple was also based on a classical Roman structure--the Maison Carree at Nimes. The characteristic bit of Ionic style is the volutes, a spiral-like or scroll-like ornament at the top of a column.

Ionic Temple

Side view

Scrolly bit at the top

The temple has a very practical use. It is a sumptuous dining room where Duncombe's guests could refresh themselves with a nice meal in a fabulously ornate setting.

Not available to visiting picnickers (I asked!)

Cherubic candle stand

The most amazing part of the room is the ceiling painted by Italian artist Giuseppe Mattia Borgnis. The theme is mythological, with various Greek gods and heroes at iconic moments or in famous poses.

Sun god Apollo in his chariot

Andromeda about to be saved by Perseus

A reminder to rest!

Zeus trying to woo another woman..geez, doesn't that guy ever stop?

Bath time, or possibly Hades kidnapping Persephone

Underneath is a room that served as a kitchen (you didn't think Duncombe's guests had cold food or brought it themselves, did you?). Later, it was home to the gardener who cut the terrace lawn. Now it is an information center with details about Duncombe, the terrace, the abbey, and the temples. L enjoyed jumping down into the entrance.

Entrance to the exhibit

The terrace is a great place to visit on a sunny, clear day. We didn't visit the abbey since it is run by English Heritage and we only have the National Trust membership. They should come up with some sort of dual membership if you ask me.

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