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

Hampstead Park architecture

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The architect of the palace at Hampstead Marshal was Sir Balthazar Gerbier, who died in 1667, and is buried in a small church adjoining the site of the palace; where, also, was buried Gideon Hickson, "who was smith and farrier to the abovesaid noble earl, and who died in the year 1677." This palace was burned down in 1718; but the grand piers for the gates of the garden scenery, amounting to 12, each about 20 ft. high, and superbly decorated with sculpture, still remain; as does the kitchen-garden, with an elevated terrace forming one side of it. We were informed by Mr. Dawkins, the gardener here, that a London architect has recently proposed to remove these piers to Coombe Abbey, the earl's seat, near Coventry. We hope no such sacrilege will be perpetrated. We would rather recommend recourse being had to the original plans for the palace and its accompaniments; and, as the site is elevated, and commands extensive prospects on at least three sides, we would realise all the accompaniments, such as terraces and gardens, and build walls representing the general outline of the house. We would raise these walls to the intended height of the basement floor, and on this level platform, we would form a flower-garden, or even a plain area of smooth turf, from which the views of the surrounding country might be enjoyed. We would even go a step farther, and carry up the walls so as to terminate them a few feet higher than the platform, irregularly, distinctly indicating the openings for the windows, &c., and varying the whole with vegetation, so as to make it appear like a ruin. The situation is well adapted for a magnificent house, from its dry gravelly soil, as well as from its elevated surface; and we only wonder that any one should reside, even for a month or two, in such a low, dull, damp situation as Coombe Abbey, who had an opportunity of building here. The kitchen-garden intended for the palace contains seven acres, and the walks, which are of turf, were originally of such a width as to admit of a carriage driving all round and through the garden. The kitchen-garden in those days, it must be recollected, formed a part of the pleasure-ground, and, in correspondence with this idea, the terrace above mentioned is on that side of it which is opposite to the house. This magnificent terrace is now used as a rabbit warren. The walls of the kitchen-garden are most substantial, being built of sound brick, and well protected with stone copings. Against one of them the original fig trees still continue to bear excellent crops. There is a commodious gardener's house, with large lofty rooms; and some new hot-houses have been commenced. One of these, a peach-house, is heated by steam, by Messrs. Bailey of Holborn, the iron pipes being cast so as to imitate cables, in allusion to the late earl's fondness for maritime pursuits. The present residence of Hampstead Park is more than half a mile from this ancient garden, on a declivity in the lower part of the grounds. It is very pleasingly situated, and, though it was originally nothing more than a keeper's lodge, it is now enlarged, and has been rendered fit for the residence of a wealthy family. As both the additions to the house and to the grounds have been made by degrees, and without any previously concerted plan, with a view to unity of system and effect, it is not to be expected that much instruction can be derived from studying the general arrangement of this residence; but there is a great deal of variety in the details, and nothing can exceed the excellence of the culture of the flowers and shrubs.