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PRIDEAUX PLACE, PADSTOW,

CORNWALL UK

 

DESCRIPTION & HISTORY

OF THE GROUNDS AND GARDENS

 

The Gardens and Pleasure Grounds associated with a country house, were laid out 1732-1741, altered and enlarged in 1753-8 with further alterations in 1795-1812. Also including a deer park and a (now derelict) quarry garden, the whole covering 15 hectares.

 

Prideaux Place stands on the site of ( and includes some of ) a Monastery Grange & Tithe Barns, on high ground, with fine views of the Camel Estuary, beyond the Deer Park, above the town of Padstow.

 

The entrance is on the east side of the house, a short straight path, leading off the public road, passes through a fortified entrance gate, flanked with crenellated walls ), constructed in 1758 and further extended in 1812, as the Colonel's Walk, a raised terrace to the north, passing over the public road to side the Deer Park and to screen the estate yards, to the west.

 

The main entrance is via the drive, entering at the southern tip of the gardens and running northwards to the southern end of the forecourt. The South Entrance (II*) is similar in design to the mock fortifications of the East entrance and was built in 1796, when the chapel of St.Samson was demolished to create this new drive, running over a burial ground of stone coffins. At the same time the high stone walls were extended at the South end of the gardens, the entrance consisting of a dressed stone arch, with crenellations, flanked by a pair of square turrets.

 

Further screening the public roads to the south and east, and enclosing the gardens are stone rubble walls(II) which form part of the early C19 improvements.

 

The stableyard, which stands to the north of the house, is reached by a stone track, which passes under the bridge, below the start of the Colonel's walk, across a gap in the crenellated walls (II*), a C16 dressed . stone arch, presumably reset, being inserted into the wall to the west side.

 

Following its complex and intuitive acquisition by Nicholas Prideaux (d.1560), the estate was inherited by Sir Nicholas Prideaux of_Soldon (1550-1528), on the death of his father Roger in 1582. Sir Nicholas was the builder of the Housed), as completed in 1592. In 1728 the property passed to Edmond Prideaux(1693-1745), son of Humphrey Prideaux, the Dean of Norwich. Edmond considerably re-modelled both house and gardens, before and after his tour to Italy in 1739-40. His son - succeeded him and by 1758 the old formal garden had been landscaped and the entrance and forecourt re-modelled. Rev. Charles Prideaux-Brune became the owner in 1793 and between 179S and his death, in 1833, carried out further extensions and alterations to the house and gardens.

 

To the North of the House is the Stable yard, including the stables (II*), built in C18 but remodelled in early C19, and, to the east of them, The Rink (II) - a late C18 stable and granary above more recently used as a theatre. To the south-west of the stables are the Dairy and its Grotesque (II), adapted from a C17 building, c1750 and again by the Rev. Charles Prideaux-Brune in 1812.

 

The house and associated buildings are set within the various areas of the gardens and pleasure grounds. An open lawn, on the site of the Elizabethan formal garden, lies before the south front, along its eastern flank is a straight walk, extending from the forecourt, as the South Terrace (II*) leading south to a garden seat (II*) constructed by Edmond Prideaux in 1740 ( datestone ). The seat is flanked by two urns which originally graced the original entrance gateway. There is an inscription explaining that the Roman artefacts decorating the seat were brought back by Edmond from Italy. It is also known that Edmond adorned the Temple with Roman statues, upon its completion. The terrace was originally laid out as part of the later Elizabethan formal garden, adapted in 1738, and extended in 1758 with the seat in its new position. At the same time, the original eastern gate was demolished and fitted to the well in Fentonluna Lane. Later, Rev. Charles Prideaux Brune re-built the terrace with a “grotesque” cockpit, crenellated wall with a niched arch (II*), with large scattered rocks around its base. It is known that William Borlase assisted in the selection of stones for grotesque work, and was known to Edmond Prideaux. At the same time, the “grotesque” work to the stable yard water trough and the rear of the Dairy was constructed. Edmond Prideaux certainly visited Pope’s Gardens.

 

To the east of the south entrance is a low path descending to a tunnel cut in 1890 as access to St.Petroc's Church. The path passes through the quarry, from which the stone for the house was cut. The quarry was converted into a planted water garden with wooded walks by Charles Glynn Prideaux-Brune, for whom the tunnel was built.

 

The TUNNEL

Off the main drive, a side exit leads down in behind the trees and inside the boundary walls, to a tunnel which was constructed under the road, in order to gain an easier access to the Church, The path continues through the Victorian Rock Garden and woodland. The rock face of the approach, declares by bold inscription..

"MULTUM COSITATUM DIUQUE DESIDERATUM HOC

OPUS TANDEM FELICITER CONSUMIMAVIT C. G. P. B.

ANNO DOMINI MDCCCXC

INGENIO ET LAHORE GUL HOCKING ET GUL POPE".

Commemorating the intense effort in cutting this tunnel through the rock by William Hocking and William Pope : Charles Prideaux-Brune 1890. As the exit is reached, another inscription quietly reminds us.....

"LAETATUS SUM IN HIS DUE DIC MEA

SUNT MIHI IN DOMINUM DOMINI IBIHUS. Ps. CXXII.I".

"I was glad when they said unto me,

Let us go into the house of the LORD." Psalm 122.1

 

In the gardens to the east of the terrace, close to its northern end, stands a C18 lead bust (II*) set on a granite plinth. To the west of the terrace is a stone cross, presumably moved from the site of St.Samson's chapel when it was demolished.

The Garden Temple (II*), was built in 1739, by Edmond Prideaux before his tour to Italy, together with an Obelisk. The Temple stands on the western slope, amongst the trees, above the south lawn, on the site of the early C18 Wilderness Garden. The Obelisk stood near the east front of the house, moved in 1758 when the boundaries were increased by the purchase of adjoining tenements, and removed in 1890 when the tunnel was constructed. The remains of the Obelisk now stand in a well at the bend of the Colonel's walk. The Temple, Obelisk and seat was built of Bath stone from the Combe Down Quarries of Ralph Alien; these along with some walling are all that remain of Edmond Prideaux's complex of formal gardens. Behind the Temple, in the woods, is a C19 shell house (II), now partially restored, standing at the side of the Green Walk, a wide grass path which, along with a network of more minor paths, led through the woodland gardens to the west of the house, behind the bowling green, which was known to exist in 1728. At one end of the Green walk stood the bronze cannon (II*), originally part of the battery introduced in 1758, as part of the mock fortifications, standing on the saluting platform to the south of the east gate.

 

Behind the stables and early C18 coach yard, to the north of the house, are terraces and a mid C19 sunken garden (II), restored 1992. Four flights of granite steps lead down to through the retaining walls to the level of the quatrefoil plan pond, the central feature, with a fountain. At the edge of this sunken garden were originally large rustic stones, indicating the site of an earlier garden feature, by Edmond Prideaux; these stones are now near the south west entrance at the rear of the grounds. The sunken garden is the last surviving of a series of small enclosed gardens, originally linked by the Green Walk, which were in existence at the beginning of the 20th century. Work has recently been started in clearance of the Rose Garden, of this period.

 

The Deer Park lies to the east of the house, across the public road. A path, off the north-east corner of the forecourt, leads across the early C19 bridge (II*), over the track to the stable yard and coach yard, then over a second early C19 bridge (II*), over the public road, and on to the Colonel's Walk, which skirts around the Deer Park, through the perimeter belts, once planted in a strip of gardens, from which there are views across the park to the estuary and the town below. It is of note that deer have been known on the site from the time of St.Petroc in 520c (Red deer), and that Fallow deer were kept at the Manor of Pawton in 1170c, not far away. The Deer Park itself was landscaped over the site of Elizabethan formal gardens c1750; remains of the layout of the main garden walls can still be seen in the ground, at times of dry weather, in the Deer Park.

 

During the C18 and C19, belts of trees were planted round the house, to screen it and the gardens from the sea breezes.

 

[ Heritage Classification II and II* as shown ]

 

 

THE DEER PARK

This consists of the main paddock and a secondary field, used for rotation and culling. The Park is partially surrounded by tree belts, but the outer field has no real protection. Some shelter is afforded by the lower belt of trees, against Fentonluna Lane and St. Saviour's Lane. Storms have taken their toll of the trees on the outer brow and are now sparse and  thin. Hedging and shrubbery, together with foliage planting, is of prime importance for the continued survival of the herd. Deer need cover and shelter, particularly favouring woods with some undergrowth.

 

There are perhaps 3 remaining deer parks in the West Country, of many that were closed and others that have been abandoned in more recent years.  It is vital that such a park is maintained for this scarcity AND for the Legend that the Family of the Prideaux's will die out when the deer herd dies off. In 1575, there were 700 deer parks in Britain, according to Saxton; by the 18th century fashion changed to smaller landscaped paddocks near the mansion. It is in this principal that these Grounds are important historically and visually.

 

EDMOND PRIDEAUX and LANDSCAPE

When viewing The Grounds at Prideaux, all the basic elements of the Kent landscape can be seen, together with the Elizabethan framework and later Victorian features.

 

Prideaux Place is bounded on three sides by belts of trees planted by Edmond and Humphry Prideaux. The Deer Park is shown clearly in Borlase's drawing of 1758, but is also shown, without deer it is admitted, in Edmond Prideaux's drawing of 1739. It may well have been the layout drawing for the proposed works to the Grounds, since it does not show the obelisk and yet all traces of the medaeival formality have gone, excepting the terraces, particularly in the Deer Park. It also shows the embattled walls and "new" gateway, the original being removed to form the well surround in Fentonluna Lane.

 

The "open" side of Prideaux looks over this Deer Park, with views over the Camel Estuary. The Deer Park, by tradition, dates from 1400, though not necessarily in the form that presents itself today, as earlier drawings of Edmond Prideaux testify.

 

The various drawings of Prideaux Place and other buildings and garden ( and their features ), as made by Edmond Prideaux, all demonstrate that he was a keen scholar and that he took an active interest in the developing Georgian style of life, design and landscape. It is known that he was well received in Bath, having much business, there, together with a busy social life. His contacts in Oxford, Norwich and Bath would certainly have increased his awareness of the accepted style, which he clearly put into practice at every opportunity, the gardens being revised and re-arranged so often.

 

 

 

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