Shotover House
The Garden

Shotover possesses the rare survival of a formal garden begun around 1718 and completed in the 1730s. A print of c.1750 shows the layout with long avenues and cross walks, many of which still remain. East of the house a series of fish ponds was converted to a single pond and a canal, with a large Gothick Temple closing the vista.

This temple has a battlemented gable with a central pinnacle and a rose window below which is an open loggia of three pointed arches. The corner turrets derive from Hawksmoor’s North Quad at All Souls College of c.1715-40. They have a similar recessed top stage, originally also pinnacled. The architect is unknown but again William Townesend, who also worked at All Souls, is a likely candidate. The alternative suggestion that the architect was James Gibbs, who designed a larger Gothick temple at Stowe, is also quite plausible. If, as seems very likely, this temple was built before James Tyrrell the younger’s death in 1742, it is one of the earliest Gothick garden buildings and thus of great historical importance.

In the 1730s William Kent designed a domed octagonal temple, an obelisk and a pond for the garden west of the house. Between them a wooded area with serpentine walks is shown on the mid- eighteenth century print. Kent, who from 1738 was replanning the gardens at Rousham, may have been responsible for this attempt at Shotover to break with formality. He may also have designed the green and white loggia furniture. Kent’s temple was restored during the 1990s. A smaller obelisk on the front lawn was unveiled in 1991 by H.M. The Queen Mother to commemorate her long friendship with Sir John Miller.
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