Thomas Bland, a man of varied talents, was a skilled artist and sculptor and reputed to be a musical composer of merit.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, “A festival of somewhat unique character was held annually, on the anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession, on the grounds of Mr. Bland, which are richly ornamented with pictures, statuary etc.
A band of music is engaged for the occasion, and the day’s amusements are interspersed with lectures, addresses, music, dancing and other recreations.”
His nephew, John Salkeld Bland, was also a skilled artist, leaving us the illustration of the Pleasure Grounds (sometimes called the Image Garden or The Garden Beautiful), reproduced here. Among its features were statues of Sir Walter Scott, Addison, Burns, Venus recumbent beneath a lion, and Music holding a Lute. Bas-relief panels depicted Rob Roy, Prince Charlie, Bois-Guilbert striking down Athelstan, and Science trimming the Lamp of Life. A “Shakespeare Gallery” and a “Local Gallery” of paintings of local scenes hung in the alcoves surrounding the area. There was even a building for the musicians. All of the oil paintings in the alcoves were removed in 1907. Some of the statuary, plinths, alcoves, urns and bas-relief panels remain to this day.
Please note: Although the garden is not open to the public, we occasionally let local historical societies as well as relatives of Thomas Bland tracing their roots come to visit the garden. We do however try to make sure this causes as little disturbance as possible.
Below is a 360 Degree photosphere. Drag the photo to rotate it.