Trip to Kelmscott Manor and Buscot Park

The weather was perfect and 28 members had a very successful trip to Kemscott Manor and Buscot Park near Lechlade. It was and early start at 8:00am but this enabled us to spend more time there.

Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor has had a major restoration. The following is taken from the Observer on 26th March 2022 and describes some of the changes that we saw:

For William Morris, the Oxfordshire village of Kelmscott was “heaven on earth”. An old farmhouse became a beloved rural retreat and inspiration for the pioneering designer, author, architectural conservationist and social reformer, widely regarded as the father of the arts and crafts movement.

Now Kelmscott Manor, near Lechlade, is reopening to the public on 1 April following a £6m renovation project, preserving and enhancing it for future generations. 

The property, which is today owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London, Britain’s oldest learned society, needed extensive remedial work, including measures to stop water getting through the brickwork.

The renovation has been made possible by a £4.3m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £1.3m from the Kelmscott Manor: Past Present & Future campaign, which continues to raise funds.
Martin Levy, a leading expert on Morris and chairman of the Kelmscott campaign, told the Observer: “Kelmscott is so magical. You hear the crows screeching in the trees, the daffodils coming up, the river beside the house. The public is going to see the house brought back to life more authentically.

“Using inventories, photographs and watercolours, the curator Kathy Haslam has done archaeological research into how the house looked while Morris was there. They’ve been able to place furniture and objects where they were originally. So you get a feeling of a house that’s lived in rather than a cold, museum-like shrine. The curator has really brought Morris’s ‘heaven on earth’ to life. I’ve been bowled over by the richness of the colours in the rooms.”

Wallpaper has been reinstated to several rooms, with designs individually printed by hand using the original blocks from the Morris & Co archives. Analysis of long-hidden paint-layers offered further clues to his colour schemes. What was always referred to as the Green Room has now been repainted in its original dark green, “Brunswick green”, which was the name given to a blend of Prussian blue and chrome yellow – a colour that Morris found “restful to the eyes”.

This article can be read in full here

We were divided into three groups for a fantastic guided tour of the Manor.

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Buscott Park

Buscot Park was built by Edward Loveden Loveden between 1779 and 1783.

The house is a dignified example of the late eighteenth-century taste for Italianate country houses, inspired by the architecture of the great Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio.

A subsequent owner, Robert Tertius Campbell, died bankrupt in 1887, having spent his large fortune on turning Buscot into a model agricultural estate.

Buscot was then sold to Alexander Henderson, later the 1st Lord Faringdon, a city financier of exceptional ability. With catholic tastes in art, he bought paintings by Rembrandt, Murillo, Reynolds and Burne-Jones, establishing a solid core to the Faringdon Collection.

Gavin Henderson, the 1st Lord Faringdon’s grandson and heir, was also an enthusiastic collector of pictures, and he added the bulk of the pictures to be seen at Buscot today. He also remodelled the house by removing the heavy Victorian additions that had compromised the original design, as well as building the two balancing pavilions that stand to the east and west of the house.

In 1956 the Buscot Park estate was bequeathed to the National Trust

To enjoy Buscot Park to the full, time should be taken to explore the extensive pleasure gardens that surround the late eighteenth-century house.

To the west of the house, the mellow red-brick walls of the original kitchen garden now shelter the Four Seasons garden.

To the east, woodland walks lead to one of Britain’s finest water gardens, an unusual marriage of Italianate formality with an English parkland landscape.

From the south front of the house, the carriage drive sweeps away to the south east, down through mature woodland.

From the north front of the house, the views take in the Little Lake and the Thames plain beyond. From neither point is any clue given of the splendid water garden that lies to the east of the house, reached by following the steps from the north terrace.

Harold Peto was a great designer of Water Gardens and one of his best examples is here.
The Peto Water Garden
Designed by Harold Peto, who was, in his day, the leading exponent of formal Italianate garden design, the Water Garden was laid out in 1904 for the 1st Lord Faringdon, and extended in a second phase of building in 1911 to 1913.

The garden creates a link between the house and the Big Lake that is such an important feature of the original eighteenth-century parkland landscape.

Consisting essentially of a chain of stairways, paths, basins and a central canal, the Water Garden is flanked by box hedges, sheltering statues and terracotta jars.

The stone-edged canal follows the bold linear axis of the earlier Victorian arboretum, carried for the greater part of its length through woodland.

Variety is given to the design by a series of secretive enclosed lawns, surrounding rectangular and quatrefoil pools, and by effectively placed Italian marble seats and statuary.

The canal stream is made to perform every possible manoeuvre before it reaches the lake, running over narrow rills and miniature cascades and beneath a hump-backed balustraded bridge.

At one point the water is thrown into the air by the charmingly playful Dolphin and Putti bronze fountain.

Water-lilies decorate the surface, and box hedges are flanked by stone figures on columns, and herms portraying Roman gods. Where it meets the lake, the vista continues eastwards to the domed and columned garden temple, also designed by Peto, which sits on the opposite shore.

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