The iconic Great Vine of Hampton Court Palace, the largest grape vine in the world, has been admired and marvelled at by millions since it was first planted back in 1768 by Capability Brown, the famous garden designer. It’s the oldest productive grapevine in the world, producing on average, an impressive crop of about 272kg of black dessert grapes, which are sold in the palace shop every September. Now in its 250th year, the vine measures a colossal 4 metres around the base and the longest rod is 36.5 metres.
The fact that the original cutting was taken from a Black Hamburg Vine at Valentines Mansion is a lesser known piece of information. This year, to mark 10 years of the Mansion being open to the public, the great vine has made an exciting comeback to Valentines, its original home.
A cutting of the Hampton Court Vine was presented back to the Mansion and planted in a special vase, created by Valentines Mansion Studio Artist Cinzia Castellano. The vase and plant will go on display at the Mansion for the artists’ summer exhibition, ‘Decade’ which will mark the tenth anniversary of the Mansion being open to the public. A cutting was also gifted back to the Mansion in 2008 after the restoration, and this grows in the kitchen garden.
“While reading about the Hampton Court Vine, I found that the initial cutting was taken from Valentines Mansion. This fascinated me, and I wanted to create a vase which would chromatically represent the plant itself, whilst at the same time being an abstraction of the Mansion with its grand portico and windows” comments Cinzia. The end result is an impressive three part structural vase, the perfect home for the new cutting.
The brown vase, with its rough and unclean finish, is masked buy two glossy panels. Representative also of the actual plant, with its soil and roots which are not visible, to the shiny exterior symbolising the parts that everyone sees – the leaves and fruits.
Coincidently, the structure of the vase, with its tarnished vase covered by the glossy exterior, is also symbolic of another part of the Mansion’s history – it’s links with The East India Company. Three of the Mansion’s previous owners were involved in the EIC, and it was during the time of Charles Raymond, a retired ship’s captain, who lavished his fortunes on the house and gardens, that the original cutting was presented to Capability Brown, the famous gardener, who was at the time, in charge of the gardens at Hampton Court.
The cutting has been presented back to the Mansion by the Royal Palaces representative during a private event. Ian Tocher, the Nursery and Plant Production Manager at Hampton Court commented. “I’m delighted to have brought back our vine plant, propagated from our Great Vine, to Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens and thrilled that a special vessel has been made for it. It’s great to continue the historical links with the gardens and park, where our famous Great Vine plant originated as a cutting.”
The vase and plant is now on display at the Mansion during public open days.