A ruined city just outside Ascot

It must have been quite a sight: 12 gun carriages worth of ancient Roman columns and stonework lumbering from London to Ascot.

It had seemed a capital present for the Prince Regent, a few towering artefacts from the monumental fallen city of Leptis Magna. In 1816 the then governor of Tripoli in modern-day Libya- Colonel Hanmer Warrington- suggested the Prince might like them, and soon afterwards 22 granite columns, 15 marble columns, figures and inscribed slabs were removed and placed for safekeeping at the British Museum.

It took a decade for them to find their permanent home at Windsor Great Park, and three months to transport them.

They were arranged between 1827 and 1828 by George IV’s architect: Sir Jeffrey Wyatville.

There they have stood ever since, added to now and then by magpie-finds at other great English houses.

And if you wish you can pack a picnic and stroll by the great lake at Virginia Water until you find them, the ultimate folly, nestling well back from the water’s edge.

They fell into disrepair for more than a century; but now a Royal Landscape Project has made them accessible once more.

They re-opened to the public in 2009: and we strolled round on your behalf just the other day.

Here’s what we found.


One comment

  1. Fascinating – thanks for sharing.

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