A mid C18 country house surrounded by a contemporary park and pleasure grounds laid out by Richard Woods, with a formal garden terrace added probably by W H Romaine Walker c 1910 during extension work to the house.
In 1690 the Throckmortons, a wealthy recusant Warwickshire family, acquired the Buckland estate by marriage but altered it little until, in the mid 1750s, Sir Robert Throckmorton (1702-91), the fourth baronet, commissioned the elder and younger John Woods (of Bath) to design and build a house on a new site some way from the old manor house. Throckmorton also commissioned the landscape designer Richard Woods (?1716-93) to lay out the park and pleasure grounds for him, c 1758-9. Further landscaping and planting seems to have occurred during the 1790s and early C19, supervised by Sir John Courtenay Throckmorton who had inherited the estate in 1791, this work possibly linked to the 1803 Enclosure Award. In 1908 Sir Maurice Fitzgerald bought the estate, employing W H Romaine Walker (1854-1940) to extend the house at the same time as the formal terrace was constructed against the north front, and Lady Fitzgerald supervised the construction of a water garden with rock paths on the north side of the lake. Following the Second World War the house entered institutional use, but returned to private ownership in the early 1990s.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Buckland Park lies in the Vale of the White Horse 6km north-east of Faringdon, at the west edge of the village of Buckland. The c 85ha site is bounded largely by roads to the west, south and south-east, separated from them by the remains of a drystone wall, and divided into two from west to east by the public St George's Road leading to the village. The north and north-east sides are bounded by agricultural land and the village itself. The southern two-thirds of the park lie on a plateau, with a sharp drop down to the northern third in which lies the Deer Park, Lakes and pleasure grounds, the slope continuing down to the River Thames 1km to the north. The steep north-facing slope is part of the escarpment running from Cumnor to Faringdon, with views north across the upper Thames valley towards the Cotswolds. The setting is largely agricultural, with the picturesque village lying adjacent, and long views north and east from the west side of the Deer Park. Woods' designed landscape seems to have continued into the fields south of The Croft (outside the area here registered), including a circuit taking in Home Farm and the adjacent gothick, ornamented dovecote (c 1755-7, possibly Richard Woods or John Wood the Younger, listed grade II*) (Debois 1993). This area is now bisected by an unusual avenue of groups of three or four mature pine trees flanking the drive south from Croft Lodge to Home Farm. The site is one of a group of landscape parks lying close to the A420 Oxford to Swindon road, including Pusey House (qv), Hinton Manor (qv) and Kingston Bagpuize House.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main approach, off St George's Road, enters at the small, single-storey, stone Alma Lodge, standing 250m south-west of the House, passing between stone gate piers supporting iron gates and flanked by further, smaller stone piers, in similar style, connected by iron railings. The south drive curves north and east through mature trees, skirting the north-west edge of the extensive, open south lawn, arriving at a turning circle by the centre of the south front of the House. The drive continues east from here along the north side of the south lawn through a further group of trees to the Manor House (formerly stables), where it joins the lane on the west side of the parish church which gives access to the village.
An extension (disused, 1998) to the south drive continues south through the centre of The Croft, flanked towards its southern end by the remains of an avenue of trees, terminating 750m south of the House at the single-storey, brick Croft Lodge (mid C19, listed grade II). The Lodge is ornamented with a pedimented curved alcove enclosing a seat, situated at the centre of the west front overlooking the drive. The adjacent former south entrance to the drive is flanked by two stone gate piers (overgrown), giving access to the main A420 Swindon to Oxford road which lies adjacent to the south boundary, and also to the drive south to Home Farm.
The former west drive (disused and partly lost, 1998) entered 500m west of the House off the lane to Bampton, past the former Inkerman Lodge (now gone), running initially through woodland at the north end of Arch Plantation and crossing the pedestrian circuit walk around the park and pleasure grounds 75m east of the road via a rusticated and pedimented stone bridge (c 1757, listed grade II) situated 600m west of the House. The drive formerly curved south-east through trees to join the south drive 150m south-west of the House.
Buckland House (John Wood the Elder and Younger late 1750s; W H Romaine Walker 1910, listed grade II*) stands towards the centre of the site at the northern edge of the plateau on which much of the park lies, overlooking the Deer Park to the north and with extensive views to the countryside beyond, towards the Thames. The three-storey stone house, much ornamented with carved garlands, is flanked by corridors leading to low octagonal pavilions.
Some 200m north-east of the House stands the Manor House (1580, 1757, listed grade II*), converted in the 1750s by Sir Robert Throckmorton into Gothick-style stables, and since returned to domestic use.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The formal garden terrace lies adjacent to the north front, a stone terrace being stepped down to the main grass terrace, supported by a balustraded stone wall (probably Romaine Walker c 1910, listed grade II). The central section of the wall projects to the north, being broken by a set of stone steps flanked by balustrading leading down to an informal lawn skirting the bottom of the terrace, adjacent to the parkland.
The park, although divided into north and south sections by St George's Road, seems to have been devised to be seen from a circuit walk or drive which encircled the whole park and pleasure grounds, and may have extended south into the fields north of Home Farm.
The south lawn runs from the House 150m south to St George's Road, where it terminates at a drystone retaining wall which drops a short distance down to the road level so that the road is not visible from the House.
From the north front of the House a path leads 150m north-east to the entrance to the pleasure grounds on the east boundary. The path passes the east front of the Manor House, overlooked by the loggia (Romaine Walker c 1910, listed grade II) attached to the north end of the Manor House and overlooking the former Rose Garden.
The path then leads north down the hillside through the wooded pleasure grounds, flanked by mature evergreens including yew and box, passing the icehouse with its thatched conical roof (probably John Wood the Younger c 1757, listed grade II*). Set into the hillside 250m north-east of the House, the icehouse is fronted by a large, pedimented, rusticated stone porch overlooking the lower, east lake to the north-west. The path continues north, crossing an elegant iron bridge over a rustic stone cascade (mid C19 and mid C18 respectively, both listed grade II) sited at the outfall of the east lake 350m north-east of the House. The remains of the c 1910 water garden lie at the lower level to the east within heavily shaded woodland. The path continues south-west along the open, grassy north bank of the east lake which is planted with flowering shrubs to the north. At the west end of the lake the path passes a further cascade from the upper, west lake, and a small rustic wooden thatched hut (late C19/early C20, listed grade II). Close by is a boathouse (mid C18, listed grade II) in similar style, standing at the east end of the west lake, 250m north of the House. The path continues along the north bank of the west lake with a parallel path close by to the east, the two winding through evergreen shrubberies. Framed views to the south and west are revealed along the lakeside path on the north bank of both lakes. These views extend across the Deer Park towards, variously, the north front of the House, the Exedra (probably John Wood the Younger c 1757, listed grade II) standing 150m north of the House in the valley, and the Rotunda (probably John Wood the Younger c 1757, listed grade II) standing on the hilltop 400m north-west of the House.
The path emerges from the west end of the pleasure grounds into the Deer Park, the path formerly rising south up the hillside through a lime avenue to the Rotunda. This is set on a levelled earth platform surrounded by a drystone ha-ha wall (c 1757, listed grade II), in parts broken down. The Rotunda enjoys fine views north and east over the Deer Park and west lake to the distant countryside. It also overlooks the north front of the House to the south-east. From here the path (now lost beneath pasture) formerly ran south. It now re-emerges at the north end of Arch Plantation and continues south, visible in places, to St George's Road. It runs beneath the west drive which is carried by the rustic stone bridge, where the flanking banks of the path retain traces of rockwork. Some 600m south-west of the House the path crosses beneath St George's Road, carried by a further rustic stone bridge (dated 1854, possibly of C18 origin, listed grade II), the banks of the sunken path again retaining traces of rockwork.
South of the road the remains of the circuit walk encircle the largely level south park, The Croft, principally laid to pasture with singles and clumps of park trees, and with the village cricket pitch sited at the centre. The path continues south from the bridge through woodland, flanked by mature yews and chestnuts, with views out over a stone ha-ha bounding the parkland to the east, reaching a pedimented stone temple (?C18) with a tetrastyle portico which stands 600m south-west of the House, facing east over the parkland. From here the path is largely lost, being overgrown with vegetation, but it formerly continued south through belts of trees, turning east through the southern belt, crossing the former south drive, then turning north to follow the east park belt back to St George's Road, which it crossed, returning to the south front via the south lawn (Tithe map 1842).
The late C18/early C19 layout of the pleasure grounds and park and their relationship as part of the circuit walk is clearly shown in the 1803 village Enclosure map, together with the park and belt planting. Its gradual modification during the following forty years is illustrated on the 1842 Tithe map. It appears that in 1803 the area north of The Lakes was confined to a narrow, sinuous lakeside walk, possibly with views north into the countryside beyond; by 1842 that area had been broadened to create a semicircular wooded extension with its own walks (extant). At this time a walk from the north bank crossed the dam between the two lakes, giving access to the Exedra and the L-shaped former lake (the empty basin of which still exists) as an extension of the pleasure grounds.
The course of St George's Road seems to have existed as a path crossing the park by 1803, its conversion to a public road probably occurring c 1854 (OS 1878; Debois 1993), with the consequent physical division of the park into north and south sections.
In the late C19 and early C20 the kitchen garden was sited behind (east of) the Manor House (OS 1876), enclosed by C17 stone walls and containing glasshouses. This area is now (1998) a domestic garden.
Country Life, 37 (15 May 1915) pp 662-9; (22 May 1915), pp 698-705; no 2 (11 January 1990), pp 58-61
Victoria History of the County of Berkshire 4, (1924), p 453
N Pevsner and J Sherwood, The Buildings of England: Berkshire (1966), pp 105-6
Garden History 14, no 2 (1986), pp 89, 118; 15, no 2 (1987), p 132
Buckland House, A survey of the landscape, (Debois Landscape Survey Group 1993)
J Rocque, A topographical survey of the county of Berks ..., 1761
Enclosure map for Buckland parish, 1803 (Oxfordshire County Record Office)
C and J Greenwood, Map of the county of Berks ..., surveyed 1822-3, published 1824
Tithe map for Buckland parish, 1842 (Oxfordshire County Record Office)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1900, revised 1914
3rd edition published 1931
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1876
2nd edition published 1912
Description written: June 1998
Amended: March 1999; April 1999
Register Inspector: SR
Edited: January 2000