The Orangery Urns

My younger brother is visiting from down south this week, so today, along with my elder brother (who lives locally) we took my Dad for a day out at Gibside National Trust property in the Derwent Valley on the outskirts of Gateshead. As my Dad can't walk very far these days we'd taken a wheelchair with us, but we were delighted to find that he could borrow a big chunky electric buggy: this meant that we could have a good walk and didn't have to push my Dad's wheelchair up the hills! I think Dad rather enjoyed "driving" himself....I'd have loved a go in the buggy myself but the rules forbid it!

I looked for a blip on the theme of "crowded" for this week's MonoMonday challenge but I couldn't find anything appropriate. However what you do have here is rather interesting: it's an artwork on the estate called "The Orangery Urns". 

The Urns are part of a temporary outdoor exhibition to link with the National Trust's 2018 ‘Women and Power’ national programme and were created by Andrew Burton, Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University. In the 18th Century Gibside was one of the country’s most well-known and opulent of designed landscapes. The artist’s brief for this Gibside commission focused on the dramatic and shocking story of the Countess of Strathmore, Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749-1800). Also known as the ‘Unhappy Countess’, Mary was George and Mary Bowes’s only child and one of the richest heiresses of her day. She was highly educated and an enthusiastic plant collector. She was tricked into an abusive marriage to Captain Andrew Stoney who went on to plunder the magnificent landscape established by her father. In an age where scandal and scurrilous rumours were rife, Mary's life provided much material for the journals and scandalmongers of Georgian society.

During the period of Gibside’s decay in the mid-20th Century the original urns were removed from Gibside's walled garden and re-sited at the Bowes-Lyons principal seat at Glamis Castle. Burton's work ‘returns’ the urns to Gibside, by remaking them in a new form. Some of the inscriptions on the urns relate to Mary's scandalous life.

There's more info here.

(Note: Mary Eleanor Bowes was the great great great grandmother of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother, and therefore the great great great great grandmother of our Queen.)

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