The avenue

View from the chapel to the avenue

This half-mile-long sweeping grassland between the Chapel and Column to Liberty is known as the 'Long walk' or the 'Avenue'.

The Avenue plays a big role in George Bowes' landscape garden and certainly achieves the sense of grandeur.

As part of a design created by Stephen Switzer (1682 – 1745), it is quite clear that this streamline corridor was created to connect two of George Bowes’ personal gems; his Chapel and Column to Liberty.

The tall trees on either side of the Avenue certainly provide a dramatic frame for these monuments. A blend of oaks, sycamores and limes date from the 1840s – some hundred years after its creation and quite possibly re-planted for John Bowes (1811 – 1885).

During his time overseeing Gibside many new trees were planted across the estate including deodar cedar and monkey puzzle.

They are a slight mystery, as there were some trees during the mid-18th century which do disappear in later accounts of this section of the garden. Perhaps felled during Stoney Bowes’ time at Gibside.

While facing the Column, to the right of the avenue there is a dip in the land. This is called a ‘ha-ha’. They were fashionable in Georgian times and blended the parkland into the wide countryside creating a more natural and rolling vista.

Something of a task in those days. Without the machinery available today, the task of levelling the ground would have been a colassal undertaking for the estate workers when work started in 1746.

One theory is that the Bowes family would exercise their racehorses along this half-mile-long sweeping grassland. Although perfect for that purpose, it’s unlikely that it was designed with that in mind when the parkland was laid out in the mid-18th century.

With the original plans, we can't be sure.