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

North Stoneham Park

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North Stoneham Park, J. Fleming, Esq.- This is a large and ancient park, the Flemings having had a residence here in the time of Elizabeth. The fine avenue of sweet chestnuts which led to the old house still remains, but the house is removed. A new house has been lately built, which we went over; and many alterations have been made in the grounds: but the whole, though it contains many fine features by nature, appears to a stranger sadly bungled. Perhaps it may seem uncharitable to condemn a place before it is finished; and, therefore, we shall only allude to one or two points, upon which, we think, there can be no difference of opinion. The approach from the high London road to Southampton shows a distant glimpse of a small part of the house immediately on passing the lodge; whereas, according to every reasonable principle, it ought either to show an advantageous view, or none at all, in order that the first impression received of the house may be favourable. The road is so exceedingly steep, that, in many parts of it, a carriage could not stand still, either in ascending or descending, without a stone being put under the wheel; and this, we think, is a test for trying when a road is too steep. Near the house, the road is so conducted as to show three fourths of the pleasure-ground on the lawn front; which, to make the most of a place, ought to be first seen from the drawingroom windows. Besides, the purity of the expression or the entrance front ought not to be interfered with by the expression of the lawn scenery. The water consists of a number of pools, on different levels, one being placed below another down the slope of the ground; whereas, had the water been carried across the declivity, one grand lake might have been formed all on the same level; and the effect from the lawn front of the house would have been magnificent. When we mention that the elevation of the house exhibits half columns and sunk panels, after the manner of cabinetwork, it will readily be conceived that we cannot approve of it. It is one of the architectural monstrosities of the present day, that columns are introduced in cabinetwork; and panels with raised and sunk mouldings in masonry. There is one point of gardening about this place which is highly commendable; a number of scions of different species of thorn were obtained from the London Horticultural Society, and from nurseries; and, being grafted half standard high, they were afterwards transplanted to the pleasure-ground. Every enrichment of this kind, to pleasure-ground and park scenery, is a real benefit to the country; by its immediate influence, and by its example. Some trelliswork, in front of a magnolia wall, looks like an attempt to imitate the trelliswork in front of the kitchen-garden at the Grange, without understanding the difference. We were sorry that the gardener, Mr. Leslie (who, we were informed by Mr. Rogers, is very intelligent and persevering), was from home.