Tuesday, June 30, 2015

1712 House & Gardens at Badminton the Seat of the Duke of Beaufort

Badminton the Seat of the Duke of Beaufort Johannes Kip (1653-1722) The Ancient & Present State of Gloucestershire, pub by Sir Robert Atkyns 1712.

Badminton is a country house in Badminton, Gloucestershire, England, which has been the principal seat of the Dukes of Beaufort, since the late 17C, when the family moved from Raglan Castle, which had been ruined in the English Civil War.  In 1612, Edward Somerset, the 4th Earl of Worcester, bought from Nicholas Boteler his manors of Great and Little Badminton, called 'Madmintune' in the Domesday Book, while 1 century earlier the name 'Badimyncgtun' was recorded, held by that family since 1275. 

Gardenvisit.com tells us that Henry, Duke of Beaufort, built the bulk of the present house in 1682. He had a real passion for avenues, & his park grounds were traversed by numbers of walks, 20 of them starting from one point like the centre of a star. It is said that he infected his neighbours with his own enthusiasm, so that they let him extend the avenues into their territory, & in this way he obtained more distant and glorious views. But the gardens cover a very large tract of land. They lie round a house in the middle of a great park, with the chief avenue 2 & a half miles long leading to the entrance. On the left of it there are parterres & a bowling-green. Behind the parterres, & in a straight line with them, are bosquets with fountains & finely designed paths; at the very end is a semicircular little room cut out of the hedge and containing 2 fountains.

Just from this engraving, we can see knot gardens & geometric beds edged with a low hedge of box or other shrubs, & the fountains intended to animate the garden, reflecting an interest in hydraulics.  Here the formal layout reflects the great gardens of France & Holland.  Terraces created from excavated & moved earth are used to control the irregular natural landscape and for balanced control & order.  The parterres evolved from the Tudor knots.  And in these grounds, avenues are used to direct the visitor to the seat of power, to direct the view of the gardens & surrounding landscape, & as an expression of welcome as well as status.  The trees in the avenues are a sort of army of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder at attention to warn as well as welcome.  The mazes & topiary are an expression of man's ultimate control over nature.  The maze allows the owner to "help" his visitors who might get lost in the towering green, living puzzle, which the owner built, of course.  Status & the impression of wisdom, culture, & intelligence were important for the owners of these Tudor gardens.  In today's world, they could have been a public relations consultant's dream.

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