The Japanese Garden at the New House

Overview

Heritage Category: Park and Garden

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1408334

Date first listed: 12-Jul-2012

Statutory Address: The New House, Ascott Road, Shipton under Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6DD

Map

Ordnance survey map of The Japanese Garden at the New House
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Location

Statutory Address: The New House, Ascott Road, Shipton under Wychwood, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6DD

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

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Shipton-under-Wychwood

National Grid Reference: SP2809317950

Summary

A Japanese style garden, laid out in c1964-5 by a small team of gardeners from Japan led by Mr Kasamoto and the Chinese-Russian painter Viacheslav Atroshenko (1935-1994), for Milton Grundy Esq, surrounding a weekend house completed in 1964 to designs by the architects Roy Stout and Patrick Litchfield.

Reasons for Designation

The Japanese style garden of c1964-5 at the New House, Shipton under Wychwood, Oxfordshire, merits inclusion on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Landscape design interest: its layout and design are of particular quality combining Japanese style garden design with modernist design principles;

* Historic interest: it is a particularly important and rare example of an early 1960s modernist Japanese style garden laid out by the modern abstract painter Viacheslav Atroshenko and a team of Japanese gardeners, led by Mr Kasamoto.

* Intactness: the garden and the majority of its original features have survived intact;

* Group value: the interaction between the garden and the house that formed part of the overall design intention, is very strong and has resulted in a particularly interesting ensemble.

History

The land on which the New House and its surrounding garden were built, was bought by the barrister Milton Grundy in 1958, and formed part of the grounds formerly belonging to the Old Prebendal House (qv). The architects for the New House, Stout and Litchfield, had envisaged a water garden for the New House. However, the idea for the Japanese style garden came from the painter Viacheslav Atroshenko (1935 -1994) and Milton Grundy, who had recently visited Kyoto together. Atroshenko was born in Shanghai and the son of Ukrainian émigrés. In addition to being an artist he, like Grundy, was also a scholar in art and architecture, and in 1991 he and Grundy published 'Mediterranean Vernacular: A Vanishing Architectural Tradition'. The pool at the New House was designed and built by a team of Japanese gardeners led by Mr Kasamoto and the garden was designed by Viacheslav Atroshenko and planted by him and Milton Grundy. A number of existing mature trees, including fir, cedar, oak and a prominent horse chestnut in the corner of the site were incorporated into the design in order to let the careful composition blend in with its natural surroundings. New trees were introduced too, including birch and cherry blossom. The large bio-morphic shaped pool, fed by an adjacent well, had been dug out with the spoil carefully landscaped and covered in moss. A small stream was created which regulated the water flowing back from the pool into the river. The inspiration for the pool, which comes right up to the house, thus making it look as if it rises from the water, may partly have come from the city of Venice, on which Grundy published a book in 1971 entitled Venice Recorded: A Guide Book and Anthology. Along the west boundary of the garden, a wall was erected to enclose a raked gravel garden punctuated by stone outcrops, which was based on that at the Ryoan-Ji temple garden in Kyoto. The garden is shown in an article in Country Life in 1966, which states that this wall contained a mural reminiscent of Hiroshige prints. This was replaced in c1971 with an abstract mural by Viacheslav Atroshenko, and subsequently restored by the artist himself. The mural depicts the four stages of the day: morning, afternoon, evening and night. It is believed that there are now (2012) over 70 types of moss and lichen growing in the garden, as well as further Japanese style planting such as bamboo, Japanese maple and azalea.

Details

LOCATION, SETTING, LANDFORM, BOUNDARIES, AREA The rectangular-shaped garden measures c220 square metres and lies on the edge of Shipton under Wychwood, a small Cotswold village situated between Burford and Chipping Norton. The garden is bound to the north by the River Evenlode and to the south by a stone garden wall belonging to a former vicarage now called the Lodge (a separate private dwelling, listed at Grade II, and not included in the land registered here). To the east the garden is enclosed by a beech hedge and bamboo plants, and to the west by a Cotswold stone garden wall of c1964.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The garden is approached from the south via a long straight drive which leads to a porch. From here a door gives access to the south-east corner of the garden. A moss covered path leads in north-westerly direction to an Oak timber bridge that spans the pool. On the other side a series of stepping stones set in coarse sand, lead to the south front entrance of the New House. Against the wall enclosing the garden from the south, stone steps lead to the Lodge (excluded from the land registered here).

PRINCIPAL BUILDING The New House is a modern private weekend house built in 1964 to a design by Stout and Litchfield for Milton Grundy, and stands in the centre of the garden. It comprises of five linked pavilions, informally arranged, which appear to rise from a bio-morphic shaped pool that surrounds the three bedroom pavilions to the east. The large windows and/or glazed doors to each of the pavilions offer views of different parts of the garden. The window in the kitchen and living room were inserted later, in c1972, in order to create further views of the garden. The covered walk and open loggia attached to its north-west offer views of the raked gravel garden.

GARDEN The rectangular-shaped garden is dominated by the large concrete lined pool from which the house appears to rise up. It contains a number of small islands, planted with small shrubs, some accessible via small timber bridges. The remainder of the garden to the south, east and north of the house has been carefully shaped into a 'miniature' Japanese style garden with small ‘hills’. It is covered in moss and planted with small trees and shrubs. In the centre of the moss covered ‘lawn’ to the south-west of the house stands a mature horse-chestnut tree, forming a prominent feature. The south-eastern edge of the pool abuts a ‘beach’ of river-washed pebbles. A circular moss covered path, marked in places with stepping stones, meanders from the entrance to the garden in the south-east corner, along the east side of the house, lined to its east by a straight beech hedge, to the northern part of the garden. This is dominated by a narrow stream through which the water runs from the pool via a rustic stone cascade, to a small timber sluice further downstream, regulating the water flowing back into the river Evenlode. The far north end of the garden, abutting the river Evenlode, is laid to lawn. In the north-west corner of the garden stands a plain, rectangular-shaped garden shelter made from timber, with a raised floor. West of the house is a meditative raked gravel garden, containing stone outcrops, which is to be viewed from the covered walkway and the loggia extending from the north-west corner of the house. It is screened to its west by the Cotswold stone garden wall, which encloses a raked gravel garden punctuated by stone outcrops, based on that at the Ryoan-Ji temple garden in Kyoto. The east side of the wall has an abstract mural of 1971 by the Chinese-Russian artist Viacheslav Atroshenko (1935-1994), subsequently restored by the artist himself. It depicts the four stages of the day: morning, afternoon, evening and night. This mural probably replaced an earlier Japanese style mural referred to in an article in Country Life of 1966.

Sources

Books and journals
Grundy, M, Atroshenko: Paintings 1959-1985, (1985)
Pevsner, N, Sherwood, J , The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, (1974), 406,760
Whiting, P, New Single Storey Houses, (1966)
'Deutsche Bauzeitschrift' in , (November 1967), 907-911
'Architectural Review' in , (February 1965), 144-46
'Baumeister' in , (May 1967), 572
'Bauen und Wohnen' in Bauen und Wohnen, (14 January 1967), 70-72
Webb, M, 'Country Life' in A House Where East Meets West, (1966), 1135-6
Other
An interview by English Heritage held with Roy Stout and Patrick Lichfield, 9 Oct 2001,

End of official listing