An C18 park in part developed from a medieval park, together with early-C18 formal gardens.
Reasons for Designation
Hazlegrove House is included on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date and rarity: as an interesting and representative example of an C18 park, parts of which are of much earlier origin, enough of the layout survives to reflect the original design, and a proportion of the original layout of its early-C18 formal garden is still visible;
* Documentation: the historic development of the landscape has been relatively well documented;
* Group value: the landscape forms an important group with Hazlegrove House, its Gateway and wing walls (all listed at Grade II);
* Condition: despite the fact that the south-west corner of the park is now in arable use and the A303 cuts through its south-east corner, the site retains the majority of its historic landscape features, and its overall historic landscape character and historic boundaries survive well;
* Planting: the park contains a number of important veteran trees.
During the medieval period, Hazlegrove was held by the Crown as part of an estate which included a deer park at Queen Camel. There is evidence that a second park existed during the medieval period at Hazlegrove; the possible park pale lies c 200m north of Hazlegrove House. A park was certainly in existence by 1633 when Gerard records both parks in the manor of Queen Camel; that at Hazlegrove being distinguished by a grove of oaks of remarkable girth (Bond, 1998).
Hazlegrove was acquired by Sir Walter Mildmay in 1556-8, but appears subsequently to have been let to a succession of tenants. A plan of 1573 shows a house, probably built in the mid-C16, surrounded by various enclosures, and with a courtyard to the east. The property descended in the Mildmay family, and by 1652 it included a park extending to 120 acres (c 90ha), an 'orchard garde' and a farm of 300 acres (c 225ha) (indenture, 1652, quoted by Sturdy, 1992). When Sir Humphrey Mildmay died in 1690 without issue, the estate passed to his cousin, Carew Hervey Mildmay of Marks, Essex, who in turn bequeathed it in the early C18 to his great-grandson, also Carew Hervey Mildmay (b1690). In 1730-35, Carew Hervey Mildmay commissioned John and William Bastard of Blandford Forum, Dorset to remodel the existing C16 house (Pevsner, 1958) in a Palladian style. At the same time, a walled enclosure to the south of the house appears to have been constructed, together with a further walled garden to the west known as the Bastion. Further improvements made in the mid-C18 included the construction of the kennels and a 'new causeway in the lawn' (correspondence quoted by Sturdy, 1992), perhaps a reference to improvements in the park. Carew Hervey Mildmay died in 1784 at the age of 93 without a direct male heir. The estate eventually passed to Jane, the daughter of Carew Mildmay of Shawford, who in 1786 married Sir Henry Paulet St John of Dogmersfield Park, Hampshire (qv). Sir Henry St John assumed the additional name of Mildmay by Royal Warrant in 1790.
The late-C18 estate is recorded on a plan of the Manor of Queen Camel (1795), which shows a walled forecourt, smaller in area than the present forecourt, to the south of the house, which contained at its south-east corner a small circular bath house. The plan also shows the Bastion), kennels, orchard and The Lawns, together with a drive running through an elm avenue to the east of the line of the present drive. In 1808, Hazlegrove was inherited by Paulet St John Mildmay, who in 1826 moved to take up residence there and began a programme of improvements in the landscape. These included the demolition of the bath house and the south wall of the C18 forecourt, and its extension to its present southern boundary. The drive appears to have been re-aligned and a new entrance formed, while between 1845 and 1858 the existing farm buildings were removed, the stables re-built, and shrubbery planted around the perimeter of the gardens to form a shrubbery walk (Sturdy, 1992). In 1858 control of the estate passed to Paulet Mildmay's brother, Hervey George, who in 1869 laid out the formal garden below the south front of the house and in 1872 built the lodge and re-erected the C17 entrance arch which he had acquired from Low Ham at the Sparkford entrance to the park. Hervey George Mildmay died in 1882, and during the late C19 the family suffered increasing financial difficulties. The house was let to a succession of tenants, and in 1920 half the estate was sold. The remainder, including the house, was subsequently sold in 1929. The house, formal gardens and part of the park was leased in 1947 to King's Bruton Junior School, and was purchased by the school in 1952. Today (2013), the site remains in divided ownership, with the house, gardens and part of the park remaining in institutional use, and the remainder of the park being in divided private
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Hazlegrove House is situated c 2km north of Queen Camel, to the north of the A303 road. The c 70ha site comprises some 5ha of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, and c 65ha of park. To the south the boundary is formed by the A303 road, while to the west, north and east the site adjoins agricultural land, from which it is separated by hedges and fences. The late-C20 course of the diverted A303 road cuts through the south-east corner of the park, severing the lodge and the site of the kennels from the remainder of the site. The site occupies a ridge of high ground, from which the land drops sharply to the west and north-west, allowing wide views across the surrounding country towards Glastonbury Tor.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
Hazlegrove House is today (early C21) approached from the junction of the A303 and the A359 which is marked by a late C20 traffic roundabout on the southern boundary of the park. A late C20 entrance leads to a tarmac drive which extends c 120m north along the line of a former ride, before turning north-east for c 200m on the course of a former footpath, before joining the C19 drive c 450m south of the house. The drive sweeps north-west across the park for c 400m, following the crest of an escarpment and allowing wide views across the lower areas of the park and the surrounding country, before turning sharply north-east for c 200m to approach the forecourt to the south of the house. Immediately outside the forecourt, the drive divides, one branch continuing through a pair of C18 wrought-iron gates supported by a pair of square Ham stone piers surmounted by heraldic beasts (all listed Grade II) into the forecourt, the other branch turning east to pass outside the ha-ha which forms the south-eastern boundary of the forecourt. This branch turns sharply north-east, passing to the east of a late-C20 gravelled car parking area, before reaching a further parking area at the south-east corner of the house.
In the C18 the drive entered the site at approximately its present position, but passed north-east across the park through an elm avenue c 100m east of the course of the present south drive. It then continued on the line of the present south-east drive along the eastern boundary of the gardens and pleasure grounds, to approach the east facade of the house. This arrangement, which may reflect the approach to the C16 house (Map of Hazlegrove, 1573), was modified into its present form by Paulet St John in the early C19. This arrangement was further altered in the late C19 when Hervey George Mildmay built a new lodge at the early-C19 entrance to the park, adjacent to Sparkford, and re-erected as an entrance the late-C17 arch (listed Grade II*) which he had acquired from Low Ham, Somerset, a house originally built by Sir Ralph Stawell in
1685-90 (Pevsner, 1957). This entrance remained the principal approach to Hazlegrove House until the line of the drive was severed by the new course of the A303 road in the late C20.
Hazlegrove House (listed Grade II) stands on a level site towards the north boundary of the park. The house comprises a three-storey south wing constructed in Ham stone ashlar under hipped slate roofs, lit by sash windows surmounted by individual pediments and with console bracketed cills. The south-east facade is of similar, but plainer form, while to the north-east a two-storey wing lit by mullioned windows projects beyond the line of the south wing towards the former service court north of the house. The south wing was constructed c 1735 by William and John Bastard of Blandford Forum, Dorset for Carew Hervey Mildmay, probably replacing part of a mid-C16 manor house. The present north-east wing survives from this earlier dwelling.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The formal gardens are situated to the south, west and east of the house, with areas of informal pleasure grounds extending around the outer perimeter of the formal gardens to the west and north of the house.
The south gardens are approached from the east through a pair of wrought-iron gates supported by rusticated stone piers with flat caps which are set in a high brick wall of C18 construction. A gravelled drive extends below the south facade of the house, from which it is separated by deep herbaceous borders. To the west the drive is terminated by a further pair of wrought-iron gates supported by similar rusticated piers surmounted by vase finials. To the north-west the forecourt is enclosed by C18 brick walls, while to the south-west it is bounded by a belt of ornamental trees and shrubs. To the north-east it is enclosed by further C18 walls and to the south-east by a belt of shrubbery which separates it from the late-C20 car park. To the south the forecourt is bounded by a brick-walled ha-ha which rises to form a pair of low quadrant walls flanking the C18 wrought-iron gates and piers which stand on the central north-south axis of the forecourt. A gravelled drive extends north from the gates dividing two rectangular panels of lawn which are planted with a symmetrical arrangement of early-C20 specimen conifers. After c 100m, the drive divides to enclose a rectangular lawn, each corner of which is marked by a mid-C19 marble figure of a putto supporting a carved stone planting basket. The centre of the lawn is marked by a quatrefoil-shaped marble basin in the centre of which stands a carved fountain in the form of a boy holding a swan. The fountain was installed in 1871 by Hervey George Mildmay, replacing a smaller basin which he had installed in 1869 and which was subsequently moved to the east garden.
The gate in the north-west wall of the forecourt leads west to an approximately rectangular level area enclosed to the east and north by brick walls c 3m high. The north wall is planted with espalier-trained fruit trees, and retains a series of C19 cast-iron brackets for supporting glass fruit protectors. To the south and west the area is bordered by a thick belt of evergreen shrubbery and mature specimen trees, while the levelled area is today (early C21) laid out as all-weather sports pitches. This area corresponds to the early-C18 'Bastion', which appears to have been a walled productive garden, to the west of which was a more level area, now covered by C19 shrubbery and trees, but which would have provided westerly views across the park and surrounding country. In the mid-C18, Carew Hervey Mildmay is said to have been in the habit of driving his four in hand carriage to the Bastion in order to watch his hounds in Kennel Ground (Sturdy, 1992). The walls enclosing the south and west sides of the Bastion have been demolished in the C20, while mid and late-C20 school buildings have been constructed at the eastern end of the Bastion. An opening in the north wall partly closed by C19 wrought-iron railings and gates, leads to a further area north of the Bastion which has been developed with mid-C20 single-storey staff accommodation on the site of C19 sheds and bothies (OS, 1904). To the north-west there is a mid-C19, two-storey stone gardener's cottage with ornamental barge boards and a high central chimney stack.
A further gate set in a high brick wall at the north-east corner of the forecourt leads to a small formal garden below the east facade of the house. A stone flagged terrace extends immediately below the building, with stone steps descending to the level of a lawn which is laid out with a symmetrical arrangement of two quatrefoil-shaped, stone-edged beds and a central circular basin (dry, 2002), which contains a fountain in the form of three inter-twined fishes supporting a tazza and spout on their tails. This fountain was originally placed at the centre of the south lawn by Hervey George Mildmay in 1869, and was moved to its present position in 1871 (Sturdy, 1992). A stone bench seat is placed on the north side of the lawn, on axis with the gate leading south to the forecourt, while beyond there is a group of mature specimen trees.
The formal gardens and house are encircled to the west, north and north-east by a thick belt of mature specimen trees under-planted with evergreen shrubbery. A circuit of walks extends through this shrubbery belt, allowing views out across the park and surrounding country to the west, and across agricultural land to the north. This circuit of shrubbery walks was developed in the early and mid-C19 by Paulet St John Mildmay and Hervey George Mildmay (Sturdy, 1992). The C19 service areas to the north of the house, which probably occupy the site of the C17 and C18 farm buildings and stables, were removed by Paulet St John Mildmay and Hervey George Mildmay in the early and mid-C19, have been developed with mid- and late-C20 school buildings within the outer belt of the shrubbery walk.
The park lies principally to the west, south and east of the house. The ground to the east is now (early C21) laid out with a series of sports pitches, but retains significant groups of C 18 and C19 parkland trees, including a group of cedars c 150m east-south-east of the house. To the north-east of the house, adjacent to the late-C20 Headmaster's House, is a group of mature oak pollards, two of which are known as King John's Oak and Queen Elizabeth's Oak, and are said to survive from the medieval park on his site. The park to the south and west of the house remains in agricultural use, and in the early C21 remains predominantly pasture with many scattered specimen trees. The late-C19 and early-C20 OS maps shows two parallel avenues of trees extending south from the south--east and south-west corners of the forecourt. Planted predominantly in elm, these features were lost through disease in the mid-C20. The southern boundary of the park adjacent to the A303 road is screened by a mixed plantation which extends to the east of the late-C20 diversion of the A303 road. The boundary belt continues north-east to the Sparkford lodge, before returning north-west for c 150m. The kennels marked in this latter boundary plantation on the late-C19 OS map do not survive.
The park was developed in its present form by Carew Hervey Mildmay in the early and mid-C18, and by Paulet St John Mildmay in the early C19, and is recorded on a survey of 1795. The C18 park was itself a development of an existing park which probably originated during the mediaeval period as one of two royal parks associated with the manor of Queen Camel, and which was considered to be ancient when Gerard commented on its oak trees in 1633 (Sturdy, 1992; Bond, 1998). The north-east and east boundaries of the present park may correspond to the mediaeval park pale, the course of which can probably be detected in field boundaries beyond the north, west and south-west limits of the C18 park (OS, 1904).