Angels are sent to gather at the Font

Romsey Advertiser: Gardener, Jonny Bass modelled for this figure by Olivia Keith. Photo by Clare Kendal Gardener, Jonny Bass modelled for this figure by Olivia Keith. Photo by Clare Kendal

A host of angels has descended on an historic Hampshire garden for Advent.

Mottisfont Abbey’s Angel Garden forms a trail of sculptures, ranging from a carved kneeling figure, by Ed Elliot, to Nigel Williams’ metal angel in the River Test.

Jilly Sutton’s angel is based on Mexican religious sculpture, while Hywel Davies represented the impact of a fallen angel.

Kirsten Linning has created 50 white angels, which are now hanging in the trees of the winter garden.

There are also sculptures by Ian Campbell-Briggs, Andy and Michelle Rawlings and Olivia Keith, who created a huge woven angel from thatching straw and prunings from Mottisfont’s garden, inspired by one of the gardeners, Jonny Bass.

Louise Govier, visitor experience and communities manager, said: “Jonny was discovered posing for the artist in nothing but his boxer shorts the other day, which gave one of our other gardeners a bit of a shock when he came into the staff room for a relaxing cup of tea.”

Howard Brisland, a gardener, said: “Ed Elliot’s sculpture had to be transported into position with one of the forestry cranes we usually use for lifting felled timber, so this angel really did descend into Mottisfont.

“Once it was in place, Ed then had to spend another two hours or so bolting on the wings and oiling the wood. It’s a breathtaking sight.”

The garden is inspired by Mottisfont’s original angel, made in 1949 by Boris Anrep, lover of former owner, Maud Russell. The life-size angel was a symbol of his enduring love for her, with her features mirrored in the angel’s face. The mosaic can still be seen on the south side of the house.

The angels will be in residence until January 2, but the property will closed on December 20-25.

Other times, it’s open from 10am till dusk, with normal admission prices applying, but throughout December children go free. There will be a kids trail and craft activities throughout December. Call 01794 340757 for details.

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