The Garden Guide

Book: Fragments on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1816
Chapter: Fragment XxvIII. Containing Extracts From The Report On Woburn Abbey.

Basin pool at Woburn Abbey

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THE BASIN. The large pool, or basin, in front of Woburn Abbey, in its present naked form, is rather an object of splendour than of cheerfulness; yet it is so conspicuous a feature of the place, that it ought not to be given up, without some struggle or endeavour to make it appear more natural. Could an ample river be obtained through the whole course of the valley, it would, doubtless, be a circumstance worthy of any effort of art to produce it; but the levels of the valleys forbid the attempt: we must, therefore, have recourse to other expedients for retaining the advantage of water, with the least apparent interference of art. The present head, or dam, forms a complete circle of about half a mile in circumference, round which the eye glances in a moment, meeting with nothing to check its progress; and, from the saloon, the ground is seen to fall below the surface of the water. If a tongue of land, or promontory, be formed on the head by the earth to be taken from the south front of the house, two improvements would be carried on at once. This promontory would disguise the dam, and the pool would appear to be the consequence of a stratum of rock, or other hard impenetrable soil, through which the water could not force its way.