The Garden Guide

Old Gorhambury Water Gardens

Sir Francis Bacon's famous Water Garden survives, though without any water at the start of the 21st century. The Water Gardens are 1.5 km east of Old Gorhambury House. Their layout and history was researched and described by the leading garden historian of the pediod, Paula Henderson, in the Journal of Garden History Autumn 1992. She wrote that they 'would make an ideal candidate for complete restoration... [in which]... we will probably come far closer to experiencing the joy and delight of Elizabethan and Jacobean gardens than we ever could in the more common modern re-creations of somple knot or topiary gardens'. The Water Gardens 'adjacent to the River Ver, were two large, slightly irregular, squre ponds, possibly medieval in origin... [with] 'four L-shaped channels creating a square enclosure and, within it, the lake and island on which he had drawn the black and white pavement of the banqueting house'.

101. When Sir Nicholas Bacon the lord keeper lived, every room in Gorhambury was served with a pipe of water from the ponds, distant about a mile off. In the life-time of Mr. Anthony Bacon, the water ceased. After whose death, his lordship coming to the inheritance, could not recover the water without infinite charge: when he was lord chancellor, he built Verulam house, close by the pond-yard, for a place of privacy when he was called upon to dispatch any urgent business. And being asked, why he built that house there; his lordship answered, " that since " he could not carry the water to his house, he would " cany his house to the water." [The works of Francis Bacon: baron of Verulam, viscount St. Albans Volume 2, Francis Bacon, 1819]

Gorhambury, Hertfordshire, England

Not open to the public

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