Use Places & People to search over 6,600 parks and gardens in the UK and 2,100 biographies of people associated with them. Image location: Bedgebury National Pinetum

Learn about the rich heritage of parks and gardens in Topics.
Image location: Powis Castle

Follow News & Events, updated regularly with the latest information affecting historic parks and gardens. Image location: Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Visit the Schools for ideas and activities to encourage the interest of children and young people in their local parks. Image location: Trentham

Join us as a volunteer and Research & Record historic parks and gardens in your area.
Image location: Cirencester Abbey

View the Illustrated Glossary which provides definitions and accompanying images for terms and concepts associated with historic parks and gardens. Image location: Pannett Park

The following is from the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the English Heritage website:

Mid-19th-century formal gardens developed within the framework of late 16th-century formal gardens, surrounded by a park developed in the 18th and 19th centuries from mediaeval and 16th-century origins.


Montacute is situated about 5 kilometres west of Yeovil, to the south of the A3088 road which was constructed in the late 20th century on the course of a mid-19th-century railway line. The rougly 110 hectare site comprises about 4 hectares of formal gardens and pleasure grounds, and about 106 hectares of parkland and ornamental plantations. To the north the site is enclosed by a minor road which leads north-east from Lower Town, while to the north-east it is bounded by the late 20th-century A3088 road which follows the course of the mid-19th-century railway line. A small area of parkland to the north-east of the road, which was detached by the railway and thereafter reverted to agricultural use is not included within the registered site. To the east the site adjoins agricultural land, while to the south the boundary is formed by a track known as Fernhill Lane. The south-western boundary adjoins a further minor road, New Road, which until the late 20th century was the A3088 road from Ilminster to Yeovil. This road assumed its present course in the early 19th century when an earlier route north-east through the park was stopped-up. To the west the site adjoins properties in the village of Montacute. St Michael's Hill to the west of the house, and Park Covert and Old Park to the south-south-west are included within the site here registered. These areas, which formed part of the mediaeval deer park and which were subsequently ornamented in the 18th and 19th centuries, principally adjoin agricultural land, and the village of Montacute to the east and north respectively. The site is undulating, with the park to the east of the house being predominantly level, while the ground to the south rises sharply towards a ridge of high ground. To the west the ground rises more gently, with St Michael's Hill forming an isolated, conical outcrop. There are significant easterly views across the park from the house and formal gardens, while from Park Covert there are views northwards across the village, house, park and gardens. From St Michael's Hill there are panoramic views in all directions, while the mid-18th-century folly tower is said originally to have been visible from contemporary follies at Newton Surmaville (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register), and Chilton Cantelo (Country Life, 1952).

REFERENCES Used by English Heritage

J Collinson, History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, 3 (1791), p 314

Country Life 3 (16 April 1898), pp 464-6; (23 April 1898), pp 496-8

R Blomfield, The Formal Garden in England (3rd edition 1901), pp 94, 103, 111, 185

Country Life 15 (4 June 1904), pp 810-29

H Avray Tipping, Gardens Old and New (1908), pp 89-100

Country Life 118 (20 October 1955), pp 850-3; (27 October 1955), pp 960-3; (3 November 1955), pp 1020-4

N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset (1958), pp 245-8

C Taylor, Parks and Gardens of Britain A Landscape History from the Air (1998), pp 48-9

Montacute House, guidebook (National Trust, 2000)


S Donne, plan of Montacute, around 1782 (Somerset RO)

Map of the Parish of Montacute, 1825 (Somerset RO: DD/SAS/H/528)

Tithe map for the parish of Montacute, 1838 (Somerset RO)

Tithe map for the parish of Odcombe, 1838 (Somerset RO)

Pridham, plan of North Garden, around 1848 (private collection)

H Inigo Triggs, Montacute in Somerset, 1900, published in Formal Gardens in England and Scotland (1902), pp 11-12

OS 6”: 1 mile: 1st edition, surveyed 1886, published 1888; 2nd edition, revised 1901, published 1904

OS 25”: 1 mile: 1st edition, published 1888; 2nd edition, published 1904; edition of 1938


J Bonnor, Montacute, 1784, engraved view published in J Collinson, History and
Antiquities of the County of Somerset 3 (1791)

Pridham, perspective of North Garden, New Garden Green House, Montacute 1848 (private collection)

Inigo Thomas, views of north garden and East Court published in R Blomfield, The Formal Garden in England (3rd edition, 1901), pp 93, 124

Late 19th- and 20th-century photographs of the gardens published in Country Life (issues as above)

Four postcard views of Montacute, around 1950 (private collection)

Archival items

Phelips family archive, including deeds, plans, accounts (Somerset RO: DD/PH)

Montacute Park and Garden Survey, National Trust 1998 with addenda 2000 (copy on file)


Description written: April 2004 

Owner: The National Trust

Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon

Site designation(s)

The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens Grade I Reference GD1437

Principal building:

House Created 1598 to 1601


Terrain: The site is undulating, with the park to the east of the house being predominantly level, while the ground to the south rises sharply towards a ridge of high ground. To the west the ground rises more gently.

External web site link:

External web site link: