Sophia Cust and the boathouse

Watercolour of Belton's Boathouse in the Wilderness garden

Sophia Cust was the daughter of the 1st Earl Brownlow and his first wife, Amelia Sophia Hume. She painted many views of Belton's park and gardens. The accuracy of her paintings has enabled the National Trust to restore many lost garden features with confidence. Most recently this has helped us discover the secrets of the lost wilderness garden and the riverside boathouse.

The boathouse was constructed in the 1830s for the 1st Earl Brownlow. It's one of a series of ‘incidents’ throughout the wilderness garden designed to delight and excite the Earl's visitors. The most tantalising piece of evidence we have showing the original appearance of the boathouse is a watercolour painted by Sophia Cust, Lady Tower.

This watercolour has enabled us to accurately understand how to restore the boathouse to its former glory. Most excitingly it depicts two lost gilded weathervanes. As the painting doesn't show the detail of the weathervanes design, National Trust Curator, David Fitzer has produced a design using the Belton archives and existing weathervanes on the estate. We hope to reinstate this feature during the restoration work.