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

Neglect of Blenheim Palace Garden

Previous - Next

The noblest place in Britain, perhaps in Europe, Blenheim, is going rapidly to decay. Before entering the great gates at Woodstock, the stranger sees two trees (an ash and a sycamore), each 4 ft. or 5 ft. high, growing out of crevices in the stone piers. When the gates are opened, he observes half the lake turned into a morass covered with rushes. Advancing to the house, he finds part of the architrave over the eastern gateway fallen down; and, if he goes as far as the cascade, he will find that the head or dam is no longer in a state to retain water; and that, of course, the lake is not so full as it ought to be by five or six feet. The duke's private garden, of which we think very little, we shall speak of hereafter in detail.(Let not this view of the decay of noblemen's gardens induce gardeners in want of places to despair. Every gardener who has seen much service knows that a situation under a rich tradesman, merchant, or small landed proprietor is productive of far more comfort to him than one under a nobleman; where so many intermediate persons come in between him and his employer, that he is at all times liable to misrepresentation, and to be discharged without even an opportunity of explanation. As far as we have observed, the pay given to their head gardeners by men who are themselves in business is as great as, in many instances greater than, that given by noblemen. As the country goes on improving, the small places will greatly increase, and, with them, a taste for gardening, and situations for first-rate gardeners.) Almost the only highly kept gardens which we saw were those of small proprietors, professional men, merchants, or bankers. Of these, we must give the decided preference, for beauty and keeping united, to the following, which we put down in the order in which we saw them: - Drayton Green, near Acton, Mrs. Lawrence; Taplow House, near Maidenhead, Pascoe Grenfell, Esq.; Bishop's Stoke, near Southampton, the Rev. Thos. Garnier; the garden of the Misses Garnier, near Wickham; and Redleaf, near Tunbridge Wells, William Wells, Esq. The last was by far the most beautiful, and, except the garden of the Misses Garnier, the most perfectly kept, of all the places which we saw.