The conservation of Upton's Mirror Pool

The mirror pool at Upton in the spring

For those of you who love Upton House and it’s gardens you will have no doubt been disappointed to see the moving in of diggers and the draining of the pool during the spring and summer of 2017. We are delighted to confirm that the stunning pool, normally found sparkling at the end of the terraces, hidden from site just below the ha ha is back to its former glory!

The mirror pool has long been an iconic site at Upton since it’s installation in the 1920s, apart from its brief covering during the war it has sat glistening silently for thousands to enjoy. Unfortunately as with many of the structures at the Trusts properties we need to continue to look after these important icons and occasionally they need conservation work.

The original puddled clay in the Mirror Pool had become quite thin in recent years, allowing water to drain away and more significant leaks to develop in the base of the pool and its walls. In order for the pool to retain its reflection of the gardens and trees surrounding it we needed to fix it. Despite various approaches to try to fix the leaks we were unsuccessful and so needed to take a slightly different approach. This involved using a textile clay liner as a base, covered with a layer of natural muddy clay to seal it completely; this will seal the pool for many years to come.

The pool needed to be drained of fish and pond life and plant life removed. Whilst the pool was drained we took the opportunity to make repairs to the dam wall, replacing the outlet pipe and rebuilding parts of the dry stone walls and pathway. Shoring up the wall and replacing the stone facing took around 4-6 weeks to complete. Once work started we realised the existing wall was in a poor condition, and so we decided to replace a further 15metres of it. The pool base has been covered with a geocomposite Clay Liner (GCL), once that was laid out the liner was covered with over 50 cubic metres of blue clay to act as a buffer cover.

All vegetation previously removed from the pool was stored and re-used as a cover layer over the GLC and blue clay, this layer is 300mm thick. Once the pond was complete we then needed to relay turf surrounding the pool and the slope down to it. That turf needed to take root before any visitors could walk around it.

The pool is fed from a natural spring in the corner of the garden, so with rainwater and the spring the pool filled up in around six months. Plant life has started to re-grow gradually and we can now see a selection of water-lily’s and reeds surrounding the pool. This in turn has encouraged bird life to come back, with several species having been spotted already this year including a Kingfisher!

The pool still needs its fish to go back in, which will happen once the water has had a chance to settle and its PH levels to stabilise.

The pool now sits once again glimmering in the sun light, for visitors to enjoy at Upton for many years to come. By visiting today you are supporting our repairs and conservation, helping to protect special places like this for the future. Thank you.