Painshill Park Crystal Grotto gets restoration grant

Painshill Park grotto
Image caption Painshill Park grotto was created in 1760 as part of the landscaped garden

A grotto at an 18th Century park in Surrey is to be restored with a £747,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Crystal Grotto, at Painshill Park in Cobham, will be lined with minerals such as quartz and embedded with crystals to make dazzling stalactites.

Access to the island where the grotto is situated will be improved with the rebuilding of the lost Woollett Bridge.

The appearance of the bridge is preserved in an engraving dated 1760.

"This wonderful heritage site is one of only a handful left of this type of landscape feature," said Stuart McLeod, head of the HLF for the South East.

"We fully support the restoration and this opportunity to save the grotto for future generations."

The Prince of Wales toured Painshill Park in May as part of a day-long visit to Surrey.

The 158-acre Grade I listed landscape was created by aristocrat Charles Hamilton, a passionate plant collector.

Image caption Woollett Bridge, which has been lost, is to be rebuilt as part of the restoration

He was forced to sell the estate in 1773 for financial reasons and it had a series of private owners until it became derelict after World War II.

A registered charity, Painshill Park Trust, was formed in 1981 to restore the garden.

The grotto project is the latest phase of restoration work.

"The recreation of the grotto is an important milestone for the trust, which is also celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year," said Mike Gove, chief executive of the trust.

"This is going to make a huge different to this heritage site, which has been painstakingly restored and treasured by many."

The 24-month restoration programme is due to be completed in 2013.

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