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.

Situation of Woburn Abbey

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The original situation of Woburn Abbey was judiciously chosen in those times when water, the most essential necessary of life, was suffered to take its natural course along the Valleys; and before the ingenuity of man had invented hydraulic engines to raise it from the valleys to the hills. The great object of the monks was, to take advantage of two small springs, or rivulets, of which the traces are still left in the pools, and shapes of ground, one near the green-house, the other near the dairy. These two streams united a little above the site of the old abbey, contributing greatly to its comfort, by reservoirs and fish-ponds, so requisite to the supply of a numerous ecclesiastical establishment, whose chief food was the fish of fresh water. It is now too late to inquire why this site was preserved in the present house; or why the residence of a noble family retains the name of Abbey, when every vestige of the original pile has been destroyed. If any mistake is committed, it becomes the duty of the improver to suggest expedients that may retrieve errors, or remedy defects. And since it is impossible to raise the house in reality, or to alter its real situation, we must endeavour to do so in appearance; at least, we should cautiously avoid everything which tends to lessen the magnitude, to depress the importance, or to diminish the character which so obviously belongs to Woburn Abbey, as now altered from a monastic to a ducal residence.