Sunday, 23 March 2014

Dalkeith, Montagu Bridge

The Montagu Bridge, a spectacular single arch span over the River North Esk in Dalkeith Park is one of the last works of the great Robert Adam.  Built in 1792 Montagu Bridge was originally adorned with life size sculptures of four stags mounted on the parapet at either end. They had to be removed because they frightened the horses. Their whereabouts are unknown.

Montagu Bridge was conceived as a magnificent eye-catcher to be viewed from Dalkeith Palace, rather than merely as a means of  reaching the far bank. This splendid extravagance was named after Lady Elizabeth Montagu who had married the 3rd Duke of Buccleugh and brought with her an enormous dowry including Montagu House in London and Boughton House in Northamptonshire, the latter described as the English Versailles and with it came five villages and extensive estates. The Montagu-Douglas-Scott family still own Boughton and find time to visit every year.

From the bridge the view to the east, is of a densely wooded gorge with the rapids way down below.  To the west  the view is of Dalkeith Palace, with the great grass bowl recently restored in front of it. The design and position of the bridge, in a sublime natural landscape, is a great example of the picturesque style brought back to Britain after noblemen were able to travel to the continent following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.