Chiswick House and Iford Manor

By some bizzare coincidence Guardian art critic Jonathon Jones, and I, had the same idea for an article today.  It has been a while now since I left England, and feelings of nostalgia for the homeland are beginning to set in! I began to remember lovely days wandering in the grounds of Chiswick house, an idyll tucked away in a busy corner of west London. The striking palladian style house designed by William Kent, is situated in extensive landscaped grounds, which as Jones describes, have been designed to look as though nature intended them that way.  Thus, they are not overly ornate, or rigid in design.  These grounds feel (happily) worlds away from their surroundings.

Enchanting tree lined avenues lead away from the central lawn, each providing a vista for a charming rotunda, a temple, a lake, or a sculpture.  The grounds feel steeped in antiquity, which may have something to do with the little classical Greek and Romanesque style buildings dotted around, and the proliforation of sphinx sculptures and roman busts.  The gardens are also home to many beautiful old trees and meadow flowers, lending a sense of wilderness and poetry to the place.

The gardens are free, the house has a small entrance fee but is also worth a visit.

The Folly

Iford Manor

The English are well known for their love of gardens, and at this time of year they are at their most delightful, and none more so, I feel, than Iford Manor, located in the west country, near Bath. You may wonder why I am writing about gardens in this blog, but truly they are living works of art to be experienced (much like installation art has to be experienced).

This house was bought by the great garden designer and architect, Harold Peto (11 July 1854 – 16 April 1933) who made the grounds at Iford his own.  By all accounts, he achieved a perfect balance between delicacy, refinement and wilderness.  The garden is sweet and beautiful rather than imposing and severely formal.  It has a clear design and a structure, but it is a delightful, meandering one, intercepted at points by Italianate columns, cloisters and giant clay urns.  It has a distinctly mediterranean feel to it, but one softened by gorgeous flower beds bursting with fragrant English flora.  It is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon, or to sketch, and is located in a beautiful part of the English countryside. Anyone visiting London, should take the opportunity (in the summer at least) to venture out to these more remote places, which reveal a very different, more charming side to the country.

Iford Bridge from the Peto Garden at Iford Manor

~ by laxshmirose on June 10, 2010.

5 Responses to “Chiswick House and Iford Manor”

  1. Another fabulous selection: makes me feel nostalgic for England as well. I look at these images and start to miss the soft light, aroma of lavender, lush foliage and dank woodland of early English summer … Sissinghurst in Kent is another lovely garden, Laxshmi. Now a National Trust property but once the house and garden of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson. Its another place where you can see the English love of ancient walls, paths, pots, and statuary, topiary, vistas, ‘garden rooms’ of different , shape, colour and character at play … a poem come alive … Looking at the beautiful garden of Iford, I’m sure you’d love Sissinghurst, too 🙂

  2. Laxshmi I’m in love! I need to visit these places, they are just breath taking! I adore gardens, they always make me feel as though I’ve stepped into a fairytale and out of reality =)

  3. These gardens are fantastic! I also completely agree with the idea of Gardens as an installation, may be more than that as it is literally alive, and carries all the vibes that nature can give beyond the visual aspect, like the perfume, the breeze, the sounds… Interesting that in an early post, stairway to heaven, you mentioned that that Paradise means garden, and now from the other side we can feel the garden as a heavenly art, so sublime, and as Sophie said, leading our awareness to another dimension.

  4. LOVELY! you could also use gardens to create a cross relation between artistical gardens around the world…how mother nature is peacefully and beautifully modelled in different countries. Here in Asia gardens & parks are gorgeous too~

  5. Laxshmi, many thanks for your very kind words and lovely photos of Iford. You have really caught the essence of the garden here at Iford – our ethos is to maintain, wherever possible, both the design elements and the emotional content of the ‘living art’ created by Harold Peto, and in this way to capture his essence so that others can enjoy it.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit – you might be interested to know that Iford has a Blog: where I post the up-to-date news on the valley along with photos and the like.

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