Bulgarian Partners Charity

21st October 2014

Dorothea Restorations are proud to support the Bulgarian Partners Trust in their aim to complete The Social Medical and Training Centre. 

The fundraising evening was held at the Bristol University in Clifton; where visitors were escorted through the Goldney Grotto and grounds. According to the Bristol University records "between 1737 and 1766, Thomas Goldney III on several occasions managed to buy some of the adjacent property, which allowed him to carry out his plans for the development of the garden. He kept a Garden Book, which provides us with details of the work he undertook."

His first major project in 1737 was the construction of the Goldney Grotto. The first part of this scheme was actually to build a tunnel, so that he would not have to cross the public footpath leading through his estate (between two of the plots of land, which he had acquired). The grotto itself was not completed until 1764. It is the finest surviving example of an eighteenth-century garden grotto in Britain. The walls and pillars are covered with a vast variety of minerals, shells, corals, rocks and fossils, some of which may have been brought back to Bristol by Captain Woodes Rogers. Its unusual design might have been influenced by Dutch styles of the late seventeenth century, and indeed Thomas Goldney II did visit the Netherlands in 1725, but it is unknown whether he was accompanied by his son.

The shells were completed in 1739 and the date is inscribed beneath one of the skylights. In the centre of the alcove sits a river god, occasionally referred to as Neptune, but as he has no trident and Bristol is situated on a river, it seems more appropriate that he be a river god. Opposite the entrance is the Lions' Den, containing an almost life-size plaster of Paris lion and lioness. The original Bath stone lion now sits on the terrace and was originally painted, in fact its resemblance was so striking that it frightened lady visitors.

The evening was a great success whilst raising over £20,000 for the project. Please visit the Bulgarian Partners website for further information and ways in which you can support the project.