The Capability Brown designed park at Ickworth provides a fine setting for the distinctive eccentricity of the rotunda-dominated house. Within the park the woods are mystical, dark and mysterious. The trees with gnarled and convoluted trunks look as if they might shake out their roots and lumber off to terrorise unwary visitors. The twisted, fissured bark threatens to open and release forest spirits. Buttresses split and break and the bark and the interior grain appear as tortured geological strata and weathered volcanic eruptions. These are ancient trees, bleached skeletal remains reach into the sky, stag-headed. They are age incarnate, witnesses to hundreds of years of change, metaphors for the decline of the seemingly timeless unequal social and economic structures that brought them there.
Brought there from where? These are not just the native trees of Suffolk, yes there are familiar oaks and beeches, but also redwoods, towering pines, slender avenue-forming yew and monumental exotic members of the quercus family. My reductive side wants to put a name to them; my reflective side is happy to be amazed and awed.