Painswick Rococo Garden

The term 'Rococo' derives from the French words for rough rocks, rocaille, and shell-work, coquille, and is used in gardens to suggest a miniaturisation of features and their concentration in a smaller area than Arcadia. The principal aim of a Rococo layout was to divert, amuse and surprise any visitor.

 

Hyett intended the garden to be a place for gentlemanly revelries. The statue of the goat god Pan by Jan Van Nost now stands close to the garden entrance, but was originally above the Cold Bath from where he could see the ornamental buildings in the valley. A walk leads around the perimeter of the garden from the entrance to the Gothick style Red House at the head of the valley.

Painswick Rocco Garden

The Red House has only one wing, making it appear unfinished, and giving it the Rococo element of surprise. From here the path leads down to the Exedra backed by mature beech trees which serves as an eye-catcher at the end of a vista running through the diamond-shaped Kitchen Garden. Recreated with eighteenth century types of vegetables, the areas are divided by espaliered apple and pear trees. A side turning here leads to a modern maze, planted in 1998 for the 250th anniversary of the Robins painting. Following further down the path, there is a Doric Seat looking across the Kitchen Garden. This feature is not in the Thomas Robins painting and in fact used to be the door to the Pigeon House, which was moved down in Victorian times to replace an earlier rustic feature.

 

Carrying on down the Valley, one passes the Cold Bath, fed by its own spring, and reaches the Fish Pond, crossed through a Tunnel Arbour. Climbing up a steep bank from here, to the Beech Walk, this pleasant shady walk ends in a little Gothic Alcove. Further up the hill is the Pigeon House, which was not a part of the original 1740's garden, but a functional building, now without a front porch. Returning to the Gothic Alcove, steps lead down into the Snowdrop Grove in the woods beneath the Fish Pond. The naturalised snowdrops provide a wonderful display for visitors in the early Spring. The main perimeter path runs from the pond steeply back up to the Eagle House, beneath which is a grotto where one can pause and sit in a classical niche to look back across the gardens. Inside the pretty hexagonal Eagle House, carefully re-built with Gothick arched windows, is a perfect spot to end the visit.

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