The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wilshire, Dorsetshire, Hampshire, Sussex, and Kent in the Summer of 1832

Basildon Park

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Basildon Park, Sir Francis Sykes, Bart.-The house, a large quadrangular pile with wings, by Carr of York, is placed on a piece or table land on the top of a hill, and commands very extensive views. The ascent to it is by a very steep approach, which is both disagreeable and dangerous. We repeat here, what we have frequently stated before, that in no possible case need the road to a house be steeper than an inch to a yard. The approach here might have been led to the house at that rate with the greatest ease, and horses might have trotted up and trotted down. There is but very little pleasure-ground, and this is placed on one side of the house; but the park and farm are of considerable extent. The pleasure-ground has been taken care of for many years past by a local labourer, of the name of Hillsbury, who appears to have some natural taste for laying out flower-beds. He showed us different scroll-like shapes which he had laid out, and lamented his ignorance of the names of plants and their culture. His master, he said, had ordered him to collect some "fir apples" (cones), and sow the seeds of them, and he would be glad to know the proper season for doing so, with the manner of sowing, &c. This shows the great necessity of gardeners being reading men, and possessing books on the subject of their art. This man is doubtless an honest and faithful servant, as he has held his present situation, as he told us, nearly 30 years. [Basildon Park in Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire now belongs to the National Trust (2005). The present garden was made after 1952].]