Saturday, 12 April 2014

Knightshayes Court, Devon

Run fox run,  
Quick as you can,
Those hounds,
Are right behind you


In our garden we have spheres, cones, circles and an octagonal parterre made from Buxus semperviren - common box, but what a unique vision has been used here to create a scene in Yew hedging of hound dogs chasing a fox in the gardens of Knightshayes Court, Devon thus capturing the owner's passion for countryside sports.
William Burges - Architect & Medievalist
"He was the most dazzling exponent of the High Victorian Dream. Pugin conceived that dream; Rossetti and Burne-Jones painted it; Tennyson sang its glories; Ruskin and Morris formulated its philosophy; but only Burges built it."
extract from the High Victorian Dream - Cook
Knightshayes Court was designed by William Burges for Sir John Heathcote-Amory in 1867. Burges was a Victorian architect who re-established the architectural and social values of a utopian medieval England. He stands within the great tradition of Gothic Revival, his work echoing those of the Pre-Raphaelites and heralding those of the Arts and Crafts movement. Apart from architecture he designed metalwork, sculpture, jewellery, furniture, and stained glass. He was left a large legacy by his father which enabled him to devote his life to the study and practice of architecture without requiring that he actually earn a living.
The vista from the south terraces across the parkland to Tiverton where the Heathcote Amory's lace factory was situated.
A beautiful clump of Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasqueflower) flowering profusely
Entrance door screen
A typical Burges touch for the exterior porch light.
Sadly Burges's elaborate interiors for Knightshayes Court were never fully realised; he had a rocky relationship with Sir John who objected to many of his designs on the grounds of cost and style. Burges was eventually sacked and replaced by John Dibblee Crace who toned down many of the existing and extravagant Burges designs.
No photos allowed showing any Burgess furniture - many of the pieces in the house are on loan from museums or private individuals.
If you are interested in seeing a piece of William Burges's intricately designed and styled furniture then I would urge you to view this video, and preferably watch it on a full screen to really appreciate the details Burges incorporated into a simple bedroom washstand:-
The Burges coach house and stable block now houses a restaurant, a shop, and a wonderful plant centre.
The Kitchen Garden - more of Burges's ubiquitous medieval turrets, and even a little area with a duck pond and some hens for fresh eggs.
A monster brassica, 7 ft tall - Taunton Deane Cottagers kale, you can get a better idea of the height by looking at the wall on the previous photo.
"If we keep our eyes tightly closed, do you think he'll go away?"

76 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary:

    We have such fond memories of Knightshayes, both of the house itself and, in particular, the woodland area of the garden which made a lasting impression on us. Strangely, we have no recollection of the intriguing and fun fox topiary. Could it have been completed in recent years, certainly since we were there?

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance - I was aware that the fun fox topiary was not contemporaneous with the house having read the date somewhere, but couldn't remember where. However, a bit of investigation has revealed the following quote via the NT.
      'Lolloping topiary hounds pursue a sprightly looking fox across the top of a tightly clipped yew hedge at Knightshayes Court. This topiary scene was a whimsical addition, cut in the 1930s, to a hedge planted as part of the garden's original high Victorian design'.

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  2. Hello Rosemary, I am sure that the Knightshayes Court topiary fox is envious of the one that had an easy time jumping over the lazy dog.

    The video made me want to 1) collect Bruges and 2) design furniture. (I wonder how many museums would be willing to put soapy water in one of their antiques?)
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I am delighted that you looked at the video, and that you found it made you want to firstly collect Burges, and secondly design furniture. I have my young grandson staying at the moment he is going to be studying product and furniture design at University this autumn. Following your comment I will now make a point of showing it to him when he returns from his walk.

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  3. Never seen before animals on a boxus hedge! Gardeners must be very talented to keep it so real! What an impressive building but the whole woodland area is really unique!
    Have a wonderful week end!
    Olympia

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    1. I can't imagine how they did the hedge either Olympia, and it is amazing to think that it is 80 years old. Knighteshayes Court is a place that is well worth visiting if ever you are in Devon.

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  4. What a treat to see the whimsical fox and hounds cut into the hedge, Rosemary. I am so tempted to show it to the guys who do our hedges, and tell them that is what I want next! They will never come back..
    Knightshayes Court and its gardens are a wonderful Victorian creation of medieval design. The door/gate is a lovely thing with all those roses, and the light held by the cowled figure very charming. I would enjoy this place very much, and thank you for showing it to us.

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    1. It is a shame that I could not take any interior photos of Burges's furniture. His cabinets are painted in rich colours and then ornamented with medieval scenes. All very colourful, but lots of fun and interest within them.

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  5. Another gem Rosemary. I was already in the process of adding it to My List, but 'wonderful plant centre' has sealed it. Visiting NT properties is a good way of sneaking in additional plant buying opportunities as Mike now knows where most of my regular haunts are. The walled kitchen garden looks fascinating and I do love your last pic. :)

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    1. Dear Jessica - I bought a lovely rich sky blue sweet pea at the centre for a pound, and it is now successfully growing outside on a frame. The garden centre would be very suitable for you as lots of the plants that they sell are specific to Devon gardens.

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  6. What a beautiful manor. I love the British manors and gardens. I had never visited one. They are so romantic. Every angle I look is a piece of art.

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    1. Thank you very much for your visit and kind comment - it would be nice if one day you had the opportunity to visit some them.

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  7. Knightshayes is a lovely place isn't it, I love the Burges/Crace style of the decoration, our local church was decorated by the Crace Bros. so it reminds me a little of that. Of course the foxes are great too aren't they. Last year there were lots of willow sculptures in the grounds, are they still there? Hope that you got to see them if they are as they are lots of fun and very beautiful. xx

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    1. Dear Amy - the deer willow sculptures were scattered around the south lawn, it would be lovely to have one in our own garden they were very graceful. I am pleased that you enjoyed your own visit to Knightshayes Court last year.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,

    What an exciting posting — I am so happy to be introduced the Burges, whose work is new to me. I gather that he designed that red gate with which you open the posting, though to me it has a decidely Art Deco look. I enjoyed the wash basin video immensely and have to say that after viewing it, and it alone, I would have given Burges absolute free reign of the interior. I would have said, "Surprise me!"

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    1. Burges's greatest patron was the 3rd Marquess of Bute who was the wealthiest person in Britain. He gave Burges complete freedom to decorate Cardiff Castle and his home on the Isle of Bute, Scotland. He also designed the Marquess a wonderful folly in the hills outside Cardiff, a 19th century Gothic Revival castle, which is like something from a fairytale.

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    2. Thanks for that extra information — I've been spending time on the Internet looking at images of Cardiff Castle, and there's lots to see!

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    3. I am pleased that you found some images of Cardiff Castle, the first time I visited I was totally enthralled by it. The house on the isle of Bute is called Mount Stuart, and the folly too is worth looking at.

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  9. A wonderful place to visit, so special the fox and the hounds running on the hedge.

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    1. Thanks Janneke - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the topiary hedge which is something quite different.

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  10. Like how they cut the animals out of the bushes. Funny.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I think that it is a masterclass in topiary.

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  11. I have never been but I really want to go now! X

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    1. I don't think you would regret making a visit to Knightshayes Court.

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  12. Hi Rosemary,

    I always enjoy your tours through the English countryside. What a pretty garden this is! Another one on my wish list. My friends and I will be visiting The Cotswolds in May. Looking forward to see some beautiful villages and gardens there as well.

    Have a lovely Sunday!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - so pleased that you will have the company of your friends on your visit to my corner of the world in May. I wonder which part you are planning to visit this year?

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  13. Your words and pictures bring this place alive for me - I particularly love the topiary

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    1. Thank you Elaine - that is such a kind comment to make which I appreciate very much. The topiary really is a lot of fun - it is an interesting house to visit.

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  14. Wow! Such an amazing place to visit! Love your photos too!

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    1. Thanks for your visit Debbie and kind comment.

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  15. Dear Rosemary, I've missed this beautiful place and if I ever get to spend a lengthy visit home in Devon I will definitely have it on my list of places to go.
    Thanks for sharing such beauty, the history, and gorgeous photos in large format so everything is so clear.
    As for the 'girls' keeping eyes closed and wishing him gone……..I doubt it will work, but he is a handsome bloke!

    Happy weekend, Mary

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    1. Dear Mary - hope you get the chance to visit sometime when you are back in your home county. It is a place that I have visited several times before, but it never fails to 'hit the spot' from the interest and aesthetics point of view.

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  16. An amazing place surely worth a visit. High maintenance garden specially with those foxes running on the hedge !

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    1. Good luck with your exhibition in Paris Jane - the hedge is remarkable especially considering it is 80 years old.

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  17. Dear Rosemary,what a lovely place!Beautiful gardens and countrysides!Gorgeous pictures!I really like the photo with the rooster!Wishing you a Happy Palm Sunday!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi - enjoy Easter with your family and especially your visiting family from Holland. The rooster has some very fine feathers.

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  18. Thank you, that looks wonderful - especially liked the wash stand.

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    1. So pleased that you looked at the wash stand - it is unique and well worth seeing.

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  19. That is a lovely place. The Chooks are nice and clear and lovely colours. The topiary, well that is something to behold, so well done and reminds me of a few animal shapes down what we call 'the midlands highway here in Tasmania.

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    1. Next time you travel down the midlands highway may be you could take some photos to show us.

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    2. Rosemary, I have attached a link to my blog with a few 'topiary's'. I do believe you may have been away at the time I posted. http://whiteangels-thoughts.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/lake-dulverton-oatlands-tasmania.html

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  20. Monograms have always intrigued me and this one on the entrance gate is really a stunner! I could make out the "h" and the "A" right away - I might have to think about this one for awhile... because I have both of those initials as well! Loved your quip from the hens!!!

    I always come away from reading and viewing your posts a little richer, Rosemary! Thank you for a little travelogue this morning. Hope you had a wonderful Palm Sunday. Today, we will be having high 70 degrees
    F. in Eugene, Oregon!

    Mary in Oregon

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    1. Dear Mary - glad that you are enjoying lovely weather in Oregon, we have lovely blue skies and sunshine too.
      The monogram is quite complex - his name was Baron John Heathcote-Amory, his wife Henrietta Mary.
      It is an interesting house and garden to visit, and of course, I am a fan of the extraordinary designs of William Burges too.

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    2. Aha! That's the third letter M in the middle! Just what I need, now all three of my initials could be in that monogram! Love it! Thanks - Rosemary for giving me the solution.
      Another garden gate here in Eugene is made of wood, with cut-outs so that there is this fabulous floral/woody design. Perhaps I can make my own gate similar to this one with my saber saw using my initials like Bruges designed. Fun! A good project now that we're on our way to summer.

      Mary

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    3. That is a very exciting and enterprising thing to do Mary - it is a pity that you do not have a blog, and then you could show the results of your saber saw work.

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  21. I must say... there's nothing as beautiful as a big old house, set in the English countryside. It's what makes this country so unique and so special. It's what you miss when you are not here. I love the stately homes, the beautiful, rich architectures, but what I miss the most are the little things you don't find in other places: the peace, the green grass, being woken up by birds singing, watching a hedgehog shaffle across a country lane, people riding on horses and chickens... live chickens living a happy life, cows dozing in a field... It's England!

    What a beautiful post! I love the image of the windows almost crowned by the bright red flowers, and the gorgeous red gate and finally, the chickens! Chickens everywhere! Isn't the wonderful?

    Thank you for sharing so much beauty!

    CIAO!

    ANNA

    xxx

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    1. Dear Anna - you are making me feel quite nostalgic - I suppose we take so many of the everyday things that you mention for granted. The fact that you have been away has probably had the effect of reinforcing the little differences between countries.
      It is so nice to have you back in blogland Anna - you have been missed♡

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  22. From the grand scale, to the smallest detail, a delightful tour!

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    1. Welcome and thank you for your visit Lynne - the house and the gardens are intriguing, there is so much of interest to see.

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  23. I do love discovering 'new' people on your blog, Rosemary. I must admit I hadn't heard of William Burges so I enjoyed reading about him and seeing his work. I can't say I like his style, but Knighthayes Court looks a fascinating place to visit. I always like to study all the details in Gothic Revival architecture and design.
    I had to smile at the last photo and your perfect description of what is taking place between those chickens!

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    1. William Burges's greatest patron was the 1st Marquess of Bute - he painted mythical and legendary scenes over the interior walls of Cardiff Castle, decorated his house, called Mount Stuart, on the Isle of Bute, and built him a wonderful gothic folly in the hills outside Cardiff.

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  24. I love Knightshayes and William Burges - but I don't remember the chickens with their appropriately flamboyant colours! Are they newcomers?

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    1. I don't know how long they have been in the walled garden, but I do know that they are rescued hens.

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  25. Amazing...the dogs on the hedges.
    The building is also verry beautiful.
    Have a nice Week Rosemary.


    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. The topiary is very unusual - fun and quirky. Glad you enjoyed seeing them Inge.

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  26. Oh the poor chooks being pestered by that big brute, be off with you!
    I am so pleased that you have presented this gorgeous post from Knightshayes Court Rosemary. It has been on the list for some time although we always seem to miss in when in Devon although we are due to visit shortly so I'll now be joining the fox whilst running along the length of those incredible hedges:)

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    1. Dear Mr Paul - delighted that this post has encouraged you to call in at Knighteshayes - the kitchen garden should be showing more colour by then - it has a good selection of heritage plants. Bought myself a wonderful blue sweet pea from their nursery.

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  27. This is a very interesting place; from the vermillion gate, hounds on hedge, whimsical architecture, detailings such as man holding a lamp, door screen with gold "gordon knot", landscaping and even the colourful chooks. Its a pity that he was sacked, otherwise ther would be more to see.

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    1. Visually it is a great place to visit - this is one of the few domestic dwellings conceived by William Burges, and it is a pity that is whole design was not fully achieved. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the gardens and architecture.

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  28. Oh my gosh Rosemary, You find the most beautiful charming places and houses to visit.
    The design of the house by William Burges, of Knightheys court- His work is amazing.
    The whole house is amazing. What money there must have been in the family.
    The hounds on the hedge are amazing.. fantastic topiary.
    I enjoyed my visit - England is full of such wonderful homes and full of exciting history.
    Thank you Rosmary.

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    1. Dear Val - delighted that you enjoyed seeing Knightshayes Court, a house situated in a lovely situation and with lots to interest the visitor.
      There are lots of houses and gardens here, since I have been documenting them I realise that I have only just scratched the surface.
      Thank you for your kind comment Val which is much appreciated.

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  29. Not long ago I went to another Burgess House, Castle Coch near Cardiff, built for the Marguis of Bute. Well worth a visit. Burgess also did much of the interior design for Cardiff Castle itself - not actually looked at that as yet.

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    1. I too have visited Castle Coch, such a fairytale folly. Cardiff Castle is wonderful, and well worth a visit. The Bute's scottish home, Mount Stuart, on the Isle of Bute is lovely, and makes for an interesting day out as you cross over on a ferry with your car. If Burgess interests you then the Higgins Gallery in Bedford has a wonderful collection of his furniture.

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  30. I do believe your photos get more amazing with every post....lovely, lovely lovely. Jx

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    1. Dear Janice - I am totally overwhelmed by your generous comment - thank you♡

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  31. Oh my, oh my, Rosemary - what a very special place. It's almost fairy tale-like.Those topiaries are a delight. I'm on the cusp of a major swoon. :) If I ever visit England again, Knightshayes Court will be on my list. And by the way, gorgeous pictures.

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    1. Dear Yvette - I am sure that you would love it as it has many of the artistic elements that I think you admire. The topiary is, I believe, reasonably unique, and in wonderful condition considering that it was originally clipped over 80 years ago.

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  32. A lovely post about an amazing example of Victorian Gothic at its extravagant best, Rosemary. You have such a good eye for a telling image, my favourite being the intricate entrance door screen with the lovely stonework behind it. The super orange gate in the top picture is also eye-catching against the topiary. :-)

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    1. Thank you Perpetua - Knightshayes Court is certainly a place brimming full of interesting details to photograph. However, sadly for me, I couldn't photograph the wonderful Burges furniture.

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  33. Your images of this wonderful place are spectacular. I just love the porch lamp holder. The topiary is marvelous.

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    1. Thank you Suzie - it is well worth a visit if you are in that area of Devon - visually lots of appeal in both the garden and the house.

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  34. The topiary and interior is so appealing.Sarah x

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    1. Glad you found it interesting Sarah.

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  35. The whimsy of the hedges is a delight. The screen door is splendid. Wish I could stumble upon one of those.

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    1. If you stumbled on a door screen by William Burges then you could retire!!!
      For visitors to the garden who are unfamiliar with the quirky hedge, you can see them
      exclaiming with delight and pointing it out to others when they discover it.

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