The Landscape at Boughton
John, 2nd Duke of Montagu was passionate about the landscape and made grand changes to the gardens. His new landscape covered 100 acres, with water features, splendid vistas and tree-lined avenues. However, not all his plans came to fruition.
One of these plans was for a grand bridge on the estate. John, 2nd Duke of Montagu received many suggestions from the antiquarian Dr William Stukeley about how to improve the landscape. One such suggestion was to create a gothic style bridge to replace the simpler construction in the park.
Thomas Eayre (1691-1757), a local artisan, took on the task to create the bridge. He was the most outstanding member of a talented family working as, amongst other things a clockmaker, bellfounder and surveyor.
The Duke relied upon Eayre for all sorts of technical things like the examination of the medieval Eleanor Cross in Geddington. He made the steel stamp of the Duke’s arms for the weights and measures office. He and his family still cast bells and we think Eayre even designed the church at Stoke Doyle, although not for the Duke of Montagu. Bills in the accounts at Boughton record him paid mainly for work on clocks and other mechanisms including the floodgates and plumbing for the water features.
He was highly respected by the Duke and although he created a model of the proposed new gothic style bridge, Eayre would write to Stukeley on the 30th November 1744, advising it would be structurally unsound.
Discover for yourself
So sadly the bridge was not to be but you can still see the model of the planned bridge today. It is located in the Egyptian Hall at Boughton – part of the Ground Floor tour taking place the middle weekends in August – find out more here.
If you are exploring the wider parkland you can also still see the bridge the model was intended to replace. The Gardens and Parkland are open Friday to Monday throughout August – you can book here.