Formal and Informal Landscapes

Phillip.Lindley | November 26, 2012


The formal gardens at Boughton House, Northamptonshire, some of the most important ever designed in this country, were commissioned by Ralph, first Duke of Montagu, in the late seventeenth century. His son, Duke John, developed the gardens after his father’s death in 1709, and by the time of his own death, forty years later, had palimpsested the formal parterres, fountains and topiary immediately to the west of the house beneath grassed lawns and a large new shallow lake, the Broadwater, through which the canalised river Ise flows.  For more than a century and a half, the gardens gently decayed, as the ducal family lived elsewhere.  Perhaps the second duke’s greatest contribution to these gardens was the construction of the Mount, which the present duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry has restored, and sensitively echoed as a negative, in his new (2009) addition, ‘Orpheus’, a sunken landform, designed by Kim Wilkie, opposite it. Some thirty years ago Duke Richard’s father restored the Broadwater, and the process of restoration and revivification continues. In my research, I am trying to establish the details of the original formal gardens and of their instantiation under Duke Ralph, as well as their partial erasure and transformation under his son.  Walking the gardens this month, the canals brimming over with water, brought home to me the scale and beauty of Boughton’s Gardens.

By kind permission of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, KBE.


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