Rousham House, Bicester OX25 4QU
The garden at Rousham is something of an undiscovered gem. One of Monty Don's favourites.
Before there was 'Capability' Brown there was William Kent. Rousham is where to explore his work in the first phase of English landscape design.
Rousham is a complete delight and the antithesis of the National Trust experience. For example. you don’t exit through the gift shop, because there isn’t one. You might find a few apples for sale in a box though.
Turn up, park on the drive, put your money in the box and head off to explore an 18th century garden which is much as it was left. There are ponds and cascades, statuary, sham ruins, temples and an enigmatic Watery Walk to an Octagon Pond. There are flower borders and a walled garden.
Built between 1737 and 1744, Kent brought flowing lines to what was a relatively formal garden. The pleasure of being led from one almost theatrical scene to another remains, and so much is unchanged that there is the constant thrill of discovery.
No children under 15 and no dogs at Rousham. Also bear in mind that there is no tea room - you are, however, encouraged to bring a picnic and to enjoy the grounds. The house is private.
In terms of gardens to visit in the area, Rousham is a lesser-known wonder, full of charm and surprises.
For a day of complete contrasts, you might combine with a visit to Blenheim Palace. Or even Bicester Shopping Village.
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Rousham is not so far from Manor House Moreton in Marsh, Three Ways at Mickleton or Artist Residence.