The garden is full of surprises with follies, fish ponds and a plunge pool.
Meander through the woods and discover the Hermitage, Gothic Alcove and Pigeon House.
The diamond-shaped kitchen garden has a white Gothic Exedra at the far end. Close by is the Doric Seat and the Maze which was planted to celebrate 250 years of Painswick.
The a-symmetrical Red House is on the other side of the Exedra and is a great example of a Rococo garden feature.
Don’t miss the snowdrops in January/February.
Painswick is now cared for by the Painswick Rococo Garden Trust.
In 1733 Charles Hyett bought the copyhold estate of Herrings from the Adney family. He demolished the farmhouse and built a limestone ashlar house which was originally called Buenos Ayres probably because of the double height of the south front. The architect is thought to have been John Strahan of Bristol.
After Hyett’s death, his son Benjamin, a rich Gloucester merchant, developed the garden probably after 1744. He had already created a Rococo garden at Marybone House on the edge of Gloucester although sadly it no longer exists.
The word ‘rococo’ is from the French word ‘rocaille’ (the decoration of grottoes with pebbles and seashells) and originated in the 19th century. In the mid-1770s, this type of design wasn’t recognised. Small in scale, rococo gardens were usually created by the middle classes who didn’t have the land to create the vast parklands of ‘Capability’ Brown. The style was characterised by irregularity and asymmetry with light-hearted touches of elegant eroticism. It was an expression of freedom, of fun, of nature, away from the constraints of the earlier Franco-Dutch designs.
The a-symmetrical Red House is a great example of a Rococo garden building. The facades are at angles to each other, each facing a straight avenue. But the facades are different – one has an ogee shape while the other is concave with curves sweeping upwards.
Hyett also built a club house, Pan’s Lodge for his drinking friends. It’s hidden in woodland on the other side of the valley, away from prying eyes. Thomas Robins painted the Lodge for Hyett in 1748 with a riot of nymphs and satyrs around the figure of Pan.
Painswick House as it became known, was extended in 1830s by George Basevi, a pupil of John Soane. It remained in the Hyett family and was left on the death of Francis Adams Hyett in 1941 to his three daughters. They gave the estate to their relation, Lord Dickinson.
Lord and Lady Dickinson, Paul Moir and their committe have used Robins’s painting as a guide to the restoration of the gardens.