Compton Verney Park

Description of this historic site

The site of a park at Compton Verney dating from the Post Medieval period when features included avenues and a canal. It was landscaped between 1768 and 1774 by Capability Brown. In the 1800s the lake was enlarged. It is marked on Greenwood's map of 1822. Recommend review Register entry by Lovie.

Notes about this historic site

1 The park surrounding the mansion at Compton Verney covers an area of c.220ha. The mansion of 1714 originally had an arrangement of formal parterres adjacent to it. These were replaced by the park created by Capability Brown between 1768 and 1774, work which included the unification of five small and separate ponds into the present Compton Pools.
2 The 18th century house was built on an earlier site. The early 18th century formal gardens are shown in a plan of 1736, but were succeeded by parkland created by Capability Brown. The lower lake was enlarged 1814-15. Features of interest include the Grade I Listed house, chapel and stables; Grade II* Listed gateway; Grade II Listed and Scheduled bridge(s) and boathouse; further bridges, avenues, drives, pleasure ground with obelisk, conservatory, icehouse, and greenhouse (demolished).
3 Compton Verney Park is marked as a ‘new park’ on Beighton’s map of 1725. One of a group of similar early 18th century formal layouts possibly by the same hand.
4 By the 17th century there existed a house set in extensive grounds (containing the site of a Medieval settlement depopulated before 1600). This is shown in an illustration by Holler reproduced in Dugdale’s ‘Antiquities’ (1656). This shows pools, an extensive orchard and parkland. The house was rebuilt in 1714 and at the same time the grounds were laid out in an elaborate formal design reminiscent of formal layouts on neighbouring estates. Plans of 1736 and 1738 show that the layout at this period included several avenues, a great walk to the east of the house, a canal and vista to the west, parterres to the north, and formal glades and rides to the south. In the mid 18th century the house was remodelled and in the 1760s Capability Brown was instrumental in the creation of a landscaped park to replace the formal gardens. Structures associated with this phase include an orangery (demolished), possibly by Adam, and bridges. Further work was undertaken in the early 19th century, when the lower lake was enlarged and the estate village of Combrook improved. Though the family retained the estate until 1921, the land is now in divided ownership and the condition of the park has deteriorated.
5 Illustration in Dugdale’s ‘Antiquities’ of the 17th century house and grounds.
67 Several landscape features are shown on the OS 1:10560 1886 Shts 45SW/SE.
89 The park is shown shaded on the OS 1:10560 1906 Shts 45SW/SE.
10 Shown on Greenwood’s map of 1822.
11 Noted.
12 Repair works to the Dam Bridge (EWA 7129, located at SP31065262) recorded the original 18th century bridge structure. This allowed part of the central arch, a section of the parapet and areas behind missing/damaged stonework – to be recorded. In addition two brick bases were identified, which may have been associated with later repair work.
13 Observation during phase 2 of the refurbishment of Compton Verney House, during 2001. Part of a stone wall was recorded, to the southwest of the house. It belongs to the 17-th century geometric formal garden, south of the former long pool, shown on Fish’s survey of 1736, and removed during Capability Brown’s remodelling of the parkland. The coach house was photographically recorded. The ha-ha was also recorded during clearance of a section of it.
14 Further observation during phase 2 of the refurbishment of Compton Verney House, during 2002. Work was carried out in the mansion house (see MWA1188) and in the brewhouse (see MWA8833). To the southeast of the Brewhouse, a wall belonging to a vaulted cellar was revealed. Part of a late 19th-century outbuilding was recorded. Another stone wall was recorded in a service trench to the southeast of the house, and south of the lake. Although no dating evidence was found it is likely that it would have belonged to a medieval building within the village of Compton Murdak.
15 Monitoring of reinstatement of the Capability Brown footpaths at Compton Verney. The outer circuit of paths have a gravel surface overlying a base of limestone fragments. The cross-paths were largely made up on limestone fragments and are likely to post-date Brown’s paths.
16 Archaeological observation of drainage trenches to the south and west of Compton Verney House recorded a stone-built feature, probably part of a wall and drain belonging to the early 18th century formal garden.
17 Historical study by S Brindle for English Heritage. Includes copies of cartographic and archival material.

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