Although Eastnor looks like a castle from a distance and turns out only to be a castellated mansion house on closer inspection, our lake looks like a lake from far away and is not a mirage when you get to it. It really is a lake and it was created in about 1820 by the damming of two streams that flanked the old house, Castleditch, which was demolished when the castle was deemed fit for family occupation in 1818.
As there is a reasonable flow of water through it, even in a dry spring, Robert Smirke, architect of the house and then the lake, closed the dam off with a weir, which forms a point of interest for those walking around the lake. It also has the capacity to allow flood waters to roar over after heavy rain as a better alternative to bursting the bund. The pool below the weir is crossed by an elegant, if now somewhat rusty, cast-iron bridge. A sluice can be opened to by pass the weir and lower the level of the lake below its crest at times, for example when we want to net fish or repair the bund.
We are required to have the lake inspected under the terms of the Reservoirs Act 1975, as now updated by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. However, we have not needed an engineer to tell us we have a problem, though the threat of trouble from the authorities has galvanised us into getting plans drawn up to have the dam properly repaired. The problems are more or less obvious from the image: damage to the stonework of the weir walls and face, water leaking round the side and rust on the hand rail of the bridge. The structure of the weir consists of a lime concrete base, a material pioneered by Smirke and one which fortunately can be repaired.
We expect to start at the end of the summer English Heritage has offered a useful grant, for which we are very grateful, but we hope our visitors keep coming this summer to help provide the rest of the money needed. JH-B 5/6/11