Tour 5. Buckinghamshire – Thursday 20 June

Wotton House

Wotton House, Wotton Underwood
David Gladstone Esq

Wotton, built by the Grenville family and closely associated with nearby Stowe, was nearly destroyed twice in its history. The house which was built between 1704 and 1714, was ravaged by fire in 1821, which destroyed most of the interior including the staircase murals by Sir James Thornhill. It was at once rebuilt by Sir John Soane and then, in the 1920s, remodelled when much of Soane’s interior was replaced. In the 1950s the house was almost demolished, but was rescued by Elaine Brunner, who was determined to restore the house and also the landscape which was probably designed by Lancelot Brown. Perhaps the most remarkable phase of Wotton’s history has taken place since 1998 under the eye of Mr and Mrs David Gladstone, Mrs Brunner’s daughter and son-in-law, who have restored the tribune with almost all the work being done by the estate manager Michael Harrison who, with his encyclopaedic knowledge, will show us around. The whole of this space, part staircase, part three-storey hall rising to a dome, has been restored since 2013 and is an astonishing example of Soane’s architectural genius. Much has been done since the 1950s with the landscape; farmland has been bought back, avenues planted, temples rebuilt, bridges thrown across the huge lake which is on a scale quite equal to any water at Stowe. One can understand how, in spite of the glories of Stowe, the Grenvilles never lost their love of Wotton.

Tythrop Park, Kingsey, Nr Thame
Mr and Mrs Nicholas Wheeler

The ten-acre garden at Tythrop Park seems even bigger as there is much to see and everything is first-rate. The approach to the late 17th century house, originally built for the Herbert family of Wilton, gives a hint of the delights to come, with wide borders visible around the outside of the walled garden. On the entrance front is a formal space of clipped box, yew pyramids and white roses, while on the garden side lies a wide and generous terrace, thickly planted with lavender and beyond, a formal box parterre in keeping with the date of the house. Behind the delightful pre-1680s stable block, the walled garden is the climax of the garden. This is a perfect mixture of functional vegetable garden and very good contemporary planting by head gardener Phil Kusmishko in 2013. The hard landscaping was designed by Robert Myers.