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

Nuneham Courtenay comment

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As it rained fast during the whole of the time we were here, we had little opportunity of examining things in detail. Nevertheless, we saw at a glance that the handsome terrace which has been added in front of the house is badly contrived, with reference to its connection with the pleasure-ground; a proof, in addition to those which we are continually observing, of the necessity of villa architects having a general knowledge of landscape-gardening. The direct fault of this terrace is, that the outlet from it to the grounds is badly placed. The terrace ought to have been returned at the south end, and the outlet so arranged as that the walk proceeding from it should have advanced in a straight line, and on a level, for at least some distance; whereas, in its present state, the walk takes a sudden turn, and ascends; two of the most undignified and unartistlike circumstances that can be imagined in such a situation. The arrangement of the going and returning walks in the pleasure-ground at Nuneham has always been unsatisfactory, and we recollect the old gardener, Stephenson, who showed us the original plan for laying out the grounds by Brown, acknowledging that this was allowed to be the case. The objection might be entirely done away with by means of a judicious terrace, but certainly not by the present one in its present state. If we have leisure, we may, perhaps, at some future opportunity, give a general idea to our readers how this is to be clone; but, as to do it justice would require several engravings, we have not time to enter into it at present; we shall only say that nature has done much at Nuneham Courtenay; and that art, judiciously exercised, might render the pleasure-ground worthy of the place. One of the worst features about the park is the approach road; which, from the lodges, first ascends a hill by a direct line, and then descends to the house, having it full in view. Nothing can be worse, either in point of convenience or effect, than such an approach; and the evil can only be avoided by circuitous sweeps, disguised by scattered trees, so that the house shall not be seen at all, till the stranger arrives within a few yards of it; and finds himself on a level with, or, if possible, rather under the level of, the ground of the entrance front. This should be done in such a manner that the steepness of the road should in no part exceed one in forty. There are some formal unconnected clumps and belts, bounded by straight undisguised clipped hedges in the outer part of the park, and various other deformities there, which, of course, will be done away with as the improvement of the place proceeds.