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

Mongewell Park

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Mongewell, Uvedale Price, Esq., now occupied by Mrs. Bathurst.- Our principal object, in visiting this place, was to see if there were any remains of the botany and gardening of the celebrated Daines Barrington; and of the landscape-gardening of Major Price, an amateur, who assisted the late Bishop of Durham in laying out some part of the grounds here, and who laid out Frogmore, and also a small place at East Sheen near Richmond, the residence of Lord Chief Baron Macdonald. We were on the whole disappointed. Nothing remains that can be attributed to Daines Barrington, and there is only a small flower-garden, which, we were informed, was laid out by Major Price. It is an irregular glade, partly surrounded by trees, but open to the south, with a walk round it, and the turf varied by roundish clumps. Altogether, it is very well designed, and it is kept very neatly. The kitchen-garden is under the management of Mr. Perry, formerly in business for himself at Leamington: his crops of wall fruit are excellent, and the garden seems well managed. The peach trees, when in blossom, are protected by beech boughs with the leaves on; the branches being cut green, and dried and stacked for that purpose, as birch boughs are in some districts. The fruit was now covered with cotton wadding, instead of wool, to preserve it from the birds. In a conservatory there is a branch of Araucdria excelsa planted in the ground, which has attained the height of 12 ft.; the stem is half an inch in diameter at 1 ft. above the ground, but increases to 1 in. in diameter at about half its height. There is a large mass of woody matter at its root, from which, we have no doubt, an upright shoot will, sooner or later, be produced. The church is close by the house, and near the latter are a flower-garden and an opaque-roofed green-house. The plants were out, and their place was supplied by a large table and several chairs; on the table were bulbs, that the young ladies, we were informed, were sorting, naming, and putting away in bags for the planting season; thus occupying themselves at once usefully and agreeably. Close by the kitchen-garden we met with Mr. Munn, a native of Bedfordshire, who has been here 47 years; part of the time as gardener, and the remainder as steward and general manager of the estate; He is a fine elderly gentleman-like man; and, when we saw him, it being evening, he had on his blue apron, with his watering-pot in his hand for watering his own garden, and seemed to us a personified beau ideal of a gardener of the old school, such as we may see in some of the frontispieces to the works of Mawe or Abercrombie. He is very intelligent, and, among other interesting things, informed us that a sum of money was left for keeping up for ever the fine old geometric gardens at "Wrest Park, Bedfordshire (sec III. 245.), where he had been gardener in his youth. This sum, he said, was sufficient to pay 14 men throughout the year, and that number would keep the gardens in the highest possible order and neatness. As far as we recollect, when we saw these gardens in 1826, there were only three or four men employed on them, and many parts were then in disorder, and going to decay. We hope some one interested in this subject will look into it, for the sake of the beauty of the neighbourhood and the credit of gardening. It is highly desirable that there should be at least one place, in the geometrical style, kept up for ever in high order, as a standing specimen of that mode of art. Wrest Park, we believe, was one of the very last gardening works of London and Wise. [Mongewell is 1.5 miles south east of Wallingford].