Formal garden, avenue and woodland walks of c 1860 by W A Nesfield and park associated with a country house (now largely demolished) begun in 1858.
In the late 1850s Richard Snead-Cox (1820-99), a substantial landowner in Herefordshire and Oxford, commissioned a new house, Broxwood Court, and employed W A Nesfield to design its gardens. The family (who remain at Broxwood) were Roman Catholics, and the wooded landscape which was developed west of the formal gardens reflects their strong faith, with walks and other features named after biblical figures. There were apparently few substantial changes at Broxwood until the 1950s when Col R J F Snead-Cox (d 1968) demolished the old house and built a smaller replacement, simplified the gardens and undertook new plantings. The house remains (1998) in private ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Broxwood Court lies 1km south-west of the hamlet of Lower Broxwood in west Herefordshire. Kington lies c 7km to the north-west, and Weobley c 5km to the south-east. The park is bounded to the east by a minor road from Woonton Ash to Whitehill, and to the west by the A480 Kington to Hereford road. The house faces roughly west, although the main view from the front of the house is south, towards the River Wye and the Black Mountains beyond. The registered area is c 63ha.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
A front drive approaches the north side of the house from a gate opposite the road from Lower Broxwood. To either side of the gate is a mid C19 Wellingtonia. The back drive is 100m to the south, and approaches the rear of the house via the old stables court. A group of Scots pines lies either side of the main entrance and continues as a screen along the north side of the drive.
The foundations were laid for a drive from the west through the park. The scheme was never completed.
In 1858 Richard Snead-Cox commissioned C F Hansom to build a large house in the Gothic style. Hansom, however, died with only stables and a service range completed. In 1891 Leonard Stokes (1858-1925), who undertook many commissions for Roman Catholic clients, was called in to erect a Tudor-style mansion, aligned on an avenue of trees planted by Nesfield c 1860. That house was demolished in 1955 and replaced by a smaller house on the same site, also in the Tudor style. The stables and service court was left standing, and in the 1990s converted to residential and office use.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
Lawns slope gently away from the main, west front of the house and to the south; in the latter direction, over the Abbot's Pool at the bottom of the lawn and the Lone Pine beyond, long views are enjoyed to Garnstone Hill and to the Black Mountains. Low terraces and steps in the centre of the west side break up the lawns, which to the south are bounded by a ha-ha.
About 75m south-east of the house, and leading away from it, is the Yew Walk: parallel clipped yew hedges with apsidal bays spaced regularly down either side and with a broad grass walk down the centre. To the south of the Walk a rose garden with pergola was about to be reconstructed in 1997. At the east end of the Yew Walk is a formal garden (the Kitchen Garden) entered via an iron gate in a low stone wall and comprising a walk between parallel rows of Irish yews leading to a bench set in an apse in a tall clipped hedge of macrocarpa which runs across the end of the garden. Beyond, and rising above the Yew Walk and Kitchen Garden when seen from the house, is a belt of pine.
The west front of the house is aligned on St John's Avenue, which runs for over 1km to the A480 on the western boundary of the park. The first section of the avenue, leading slightly uphill from the house, is of cedrus deodar. Next are six Wellingtonia (three to either side), with the rest of the avenue being Scots pines. Before passing into open parkland c 400m from the house, the avenue is flanked by an arboretum containing large numbers of mature specimen trees. Two informal walks loop through this from the house, joining at the avenue immediately south of the large fishpond which lies in the north-east corner of the arboretum. The more northerly circuit is known as St Michael's Walk, that to the south Our Lady's Walk. About 50m north of the north end of the latter is a small, cell-like brick oratory of the later C19, while within the loop of Our Lady's Walk is St Joseph's Hut, a pavilion-like summerhouse, also of the later C19.
The garden and woodland walks were laid out by W A Nesfield (1793-1881) c 1860, about the time Richard Snead-Cox commissioned his new house. Photographs show that the Victorian gardens comprised, as well as the Yew Walk and Rose Garden, a patte d'oie arrangement of paths splaying from the west front of the house (the line of the central path being continued by St John's Avenue) and an intricate mass of small flower beds. The beds are thought to have been done away with in the earlier C20. The formal Kitchen Garden was laid out as a formal pleasure ground in the 1950s by Col Snead-Cox.
Open grass parkland with mature oaks and other parkland trees lies north and west of the gardens. The park was probably created, like the gardens and new house, c 1860.
The unwalled, C19 kitchen gardens lay at the east end of the Yew Walk, which led into them. Their area has been largely occupied since the 1950s by the formal pleasure ground known as the 'Kitchen Garden' (see above). North of that are vegetable gardens and greenhouses. A brick shed on their north side is the main surviving element of the C19 kitchen garden.
P Reid, Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses: Volume II, Herefordshire (1980), p 10
A S Gray, Edwardian Architecture (1985), pp 337-42
OS 6" to 1 mile: Herefordshire sheet 18 SW, 1st edition published 1886
OS 25" to 1 mile: Herefordshire sheet 8.10, 2nd edition published 1904
Estate sale particulars, 1919 (K88/6), (Herefordshire Record Office)
Photographs and plans (private collection)
Description written: 1998
Register Inspector: PAS
Edited: August 1999