Carvings in a cave on the Ropewalk
HOW difficult it is for one generation to sit in judgment on the taste of another is well exemplified by the carvings to be found in artificial caves in a private garden on the Ropewalk.
So inartistic are these carvings considered nowadays that it is no great loss to the community that they are not accessible to the public, but when they were carved in 1856 they were looked upon as the last word in artistic achievement—but then ladies wore crinolines in those days and men were adorned with side whiskers!
Alderman Herbert built for himself a house on the Ropewalk-Victoria-street it was then called and in order to gain access to his garden on the slope overlooking the Park on the other side of the road, he had a tunnel driven through the solid rock underneath the roadway. In order to mitigate the severity of this subterranean passage he had its sides carved into a series of sculptures, and as it was necessary to remove certain loose soil he found himself in the possession of several caves on the terraces overlooking the Park.
One of these was made into a conservatory with all sorts of weird beasties carved in the rock to look as if they were lurking amongst the plants. Another was made into an " Egyptian Temple." Carvings of Druids, Sphinxes, and other strange creatures calculated to terrify and overawe the spectator were produced, and finally, in a cave all to itself, one comes upon Daniel in the Lions’ Den!
Coloured windows were most cunningly inserted so as to throw tinted lights upon appropriate points, and the whole production remains to-day, even after seventy years, an impressive spectacle.