Water gardens, avenue and an associated earthwork, east of Court Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SP 48055 20488

Reasons for Designation

The water garden and associated earthworks at Tackley represent the rare survival of a form of landscape garden designed and constructed on a relatively small scale and associated either with Court Farm to the west or Tackley Park to the south. The intention would have been to provide a visually impressive feature, including ponds, avenues and walkways, to combine with the functional aspects of the fishponds, the role of which would have been both to supply fish as an economic resource and to act as a focus of attention for visitors to the garden. All the ponds are linked by a system of supply channels, sluices and dams which create an elaborate water management system, possibly supplemented by the earthwork feature which now survives as a slight earthwork in the field to the south-east. The monument represents a rare if not unique example of 17th century water gardens associated with a country house. The original plans also survive, providing an opportunity to study both the archaeological and the historical evidence.


The monument is situated on the estate of Court Farm, Tackley, east of the village green. The site survives as the well preserved earthworks of a 17th century pleasure garden, centred on a series of ornamental but functional fishponds. The three central ponds, two of which are triangular and one of which is square, and a reservoir pond to the east, are water filled; the remainder are dry but survive as distinct earthworks. The ponds are laid out on a regular pattern and are separated by walkways, varying in width from 6m to 10m. These allow access to islands in the ponds via a series of causeways, originally incorporating wooden bridges across the sluices. The triangular ponds are c.37m by c.60m on their longest side. The other central pond is almost a square, measuring c.55m by 55m, with a central island c.25m square. The waterfilled ponds are all c.2m deep. The gardens are at the north-eastern end of an avenue running to the south-west which can be traced into Tackley Park c.200m from the most southerly fishpond. This avenue is c.12m wide and is bounded by drains on both sides. At a point c.75m south-west of the first fishponds a 3m high wall, incorporating a gateway, both listed Grade II, runs across the avenue. On the south-east side of the ponds and avenue there is a linear ditch visible as a low earthwork in an arable field. This earthwork is about 10m wide and runs roughly 8m from the eastern boundary of the fishponds complex. The earthwork clearly follows the line of the garden lay-out and predates the more recent alterations to the drainage features on the site. The monument was built between 1612 and 1620 by John Harbourne and was part of an extensive rebuilding and landscaping scheme in Tackley. Plans of the original design survive and the site is remarkably well preserved despite the land to the north and north-east having been developed for housing. The Avenue has been cut off at its south-western end by the wall of Tackley Park and the track running alongside and to the north of the wall. Excluded from the scheduling are the concrete sluices and sluice gates which are essential to the management of the monument, although the ground around and below the sluices is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
RCHME, , Tackley, Oxfordshire, (1991)
MS in Tackley Estate Offices, Anon, The History of the Harbournes,
Peake, A.C., Discussion with Owner, (1992)
PRN 3848, CAO, Early 17th Century Walks, Pleasure Gardens and Fishponds, (1970)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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