The Landscape Guide

English Baroque Garden Design (cont.)

Hampton Court St. James’s Park Badminton Bramham Park Melbourne Chatsworth

One of the finest and also most interesting places of the period is Badminton in Gloucestershire (Fig. 445). 
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Henry, Duke of Beaufort, built the house in 1682. He had a real passion for avenues, and his park grounds were traversed by numbers of walks, twenty of them starting from one point like the centre of a star. It is said that he infected his neighbours with his own enthusiasm, so that they let him extend the avenues into their territory, and in this way he obtained more distant and glorious views. But the gardens too cover a very large tract of land. They lie round a house in the middle of a great park, with the chief avenue two and a half miles long leading to the entrance. On the left of it there are parterres and a bowling-green. Behind the parterres, and in a straight line with them, are bosquets with fountains and finely designed paths; at the very end is a semicircular little room cut out of the hedge and containing two fountains.

The work of the duke at Badminton has perished, like nearly everything shown in the engravings. But here and there something has remained of the less famous garden of a less ambitious owner. A garden in the north of Yorkshire has preserved the beauty of its grand avenues bordered by straight-rimmed ponds, and its points de vue. This is Bramham Park, and the drawings show a scene of much beauty and character (Fig.446).

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 There is a place (Fig. 447) of that date at Melbourne in Derbyshire, laid out in the years 1704 to 1711 by the king's gardener, Henry Wise, for Thomas Coke, who was later on Vice-Chamberlain to George I.

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 Here the parterres end in a wide pond, with a pretty summer-house above it, and farther on a park-like meadow, which is reached by a bridge. This parterre is enclosed on either side by shady avenues of yew, cedar and wellingtonia; the last was of course only planted in the nineteenth century, when it was introduced. A park adjoins the place at right angles, and paths, sometimes forming a star shape, are cut through it, and are ornamented with fountains and pretty leaden vases of French make.

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The Duke of Devonshire’s seat, Chatsworth (Fig. 448) which, like Melbourne, is in Derbyshire, has had a changeful history, for each century has completely altered its character. We know nothing of its Renaissance gardens, but in 1685 the duke had house and garden altered in the style of the period, and this design is shown in the above engraving by Kip. The gardens ascend the hill in several terraces, the upper ones made use of for groves; these, however, are not so important as they might be, for each one has its own particular axial lay-out. The house is on the second terrace, and the view is over a great parterre de broderie. One axis at the side climbs the hill, and ends in a cascade that occupies thirty steps. The chief beauty here, which is by no means exhibited in the picture, is really in the great amount of water. From the River Derwent, which flows past the garden, a canal of great length branched. The water in the garden itself is all alive with great playing fountains, adorned with dolphins, and sea-gods, and many small jets and water-devices. But in comparison with French art one misses at Chatsworth, with all its spaciousness and many-sidedness, the unity given by straight lines and distant views. Even the cascades can only be enjoyed when one goes outside the house, although the ponds on the lower terrace must have been all one picture with the glittering waters that came from the boskets. Le Nôtre must, it would be thought, have laid out these gardens also; but in reality it was another Frenchman named Grelly, who made at least the water-devices. He adorned one of the thickets with a fountain which he directly imitated from the Marais, at that time so much admired at Versailles. It is only made of tin, with willows painted in natural colours, pouring water over large stones, and weeping, as it were, out of the tips of the leaves: in this fashion an ancient idea was transplanted into a northern land. The fountain and many other objects were preserved till after the English style set in, or possibly they may have been reinstated by some intelligent person who was looking after the garden in the nineteenth century.

By this insistence on a garden for strolling about, which demands a less formal and more cheerful arrangement than the French garden could allow, England was perhaps already paving the way for that revolution in taste which was soon to occur.