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Chinese Boathouse

A place to keep your junk Take me here now

Make sure your volume is on: "Sir George talks about the Boathouse"

Show transcript

So first of all let’s get one thing clear if we may. This is a ‘boathouse’. It is where a gentleman keeps his boat when he is not actually using it, so that it doesn’t get full of leaves or rainwater or nesting ducks. It is not the same thing as a ‘houseboat’, which is where some people live when they need to spend their lives working on the water.

Having said that, this boathouse is a bit special, don’t you think? It is a proper Chinese design. Obviously, having spent all those years of my life in the port city of Canton, I saw plenty of examples of how they arrange their boats and docks and suchlike, so it was easy for me to draw up a design. These big round openings here, you see, are very typical of the Chinese building style – you often see them in gardens…they are called ‘moon gates’ which is so very poetic, don’t you think.

Yes, I spent a lot of time on the dockside, but for the Chinese gentleman, water is an almost essential element in a garden. You see, they try to make their gardens into miniature worlds, so sometimes they create a stream or a lake – just like I did here – or even build a miniature mountain.

Water helps to make a space for contemplation and rest – which is how I want my pleasure garden to be.

A boathouse is a shelter to keep your boat dry while it is moored without having to take it out of the water. It is not the same as a houseboat, which is a floating home!

George Stauntion built this folly as one of four Chinese-themed follies in his park (the others being the Bridge, Fort and Summer House), reflecting his many years spent living and working in China.

There are a number of elements that made the structure Chinese in style. The shape of the roof and the use of roof tiles is one, along with the use of circular openings which are similar to traditional Chinese 'moon gates'. There were also four Chinese characters written on the roof - LIN CHEE CHEU SO - which translates as 'Thicket Water Boat House'.

The boathouse was replaced with a more English design - with a thatched roof - after Staunton sold the estate to William Stone. 

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