William Kent, the eminent English architect, landscape and furniture designer introduced the Palladian style of architecture into England when he designed the villa 'Chiswick House'. It was Kent who was also responsible, before Capability Brown, of originating the "natural" style of gardening known as the English landscape garden which he did at Chiswick House, Stowe House, and here at Rousham House, Oxfordshire, in the northern Cotswolds
Rousham House was built in 1635 by Sir Robert Dormer and is still in the ownership of the same family.
About 200 years later Kent added wings to the north and south side of the existing house and also a fine Palladian stable block seen here on the left
Kent's south and north wings have windows showing distinctive lozenge or octagonal glazing bars complimented by niches containing figures from classical antiquity
Discobolos - the discus player
A rare breed of 'Longhorn' cattle graze just beyond the Ha Ha within a landscape designed by Kent
It is almost 300 years since William Kent designed the landscape at Rousham House, and I like to think that if he could have joined us for a stroll he would have been delighted to discover that, although matured, its integrity remained unchanged
The blowsy flower borders nestling within the walled gardens are done in a typically English Tudor style with lots of traditional herbaceous plants restrained at the edges by box hedging. This area of the garden is in delightful contrast to Kent's 'Augustan' landscape
Dahlia - santa claus
Rousham's historic dovecote dates back to 1685 and still serves as home to a host of doves and pigeons.
We were in the middle of a journey home and did not have either the time or the energy to do justice to Kent's landscape. We intend a return visit during the autumn when we shall walk Kent's landscape to see the ponds, cascades in Venus's Vale, the Cold Bath, the Rill, and the seven arched Praeneste, and on the skyline, a sham ruin known as the 'Eye-catcher'. By then the majestic trees within Rousham Park should be wearing their autumn gowns.
The gardens are open every day and cost £5 each - their leaflet states 'Rousham is uncommerical and unspoilt - bring a picnic, wear comfortable shoes and it is yours for the day to enjoy'. We had the gardens completely to ourselves apart from 3 gardeners. There is a very large antiquated machine, resembling a 60s jukebox, that takes your garden entrance money situated within Kent's fine Palladian stable block. We had insufficient coins and had to resort to putting a £20 note in the machine, wondering if it would be gobbled up and lost forever, but no, out came an entrance ticket along with a very large pile of £1 coins. They cascaded out of the machine with a heavy clatter, but added up to the correct change.