Rocks, The, Marshfield, Bath, England
Record Id: 2827
This site is NOT open to public.
This site has the following component area(s):
Brief description of site
The Rocks has the fragmented remains of an 18th-century landscape park and a 19th-century Romantic rock valley garden. This record was checked with South Gloucestershire Historic Monument Records Officer - June 2010.
Brief history of site
It is thought that a typical 18th-century park was laid out prior to the extensive modifications of the early-19th century.
Address: Marshfield, South Gloucestershire, SN14 8AP
South Gloucestershire; Marshfield
Historical County: Gloucestershire
|OS Landranger Map Sheet Number:||172||Grid Ref:||ST790705|
Form of site: valley garden
Purpose of site: ornamental garden
Context or principal building: house
Plant type/environment: rock garden
Site first created: 1733 to 1767
Main period of development: Early 19th century
Survival: Part: standing remains
Site Size (Hectares): 32
The park of the Rocks occupies an area that can usefully be divided into two sections. To the east of the house is an area of fairly level downland, now used for pasture farming. Immediately to the west of the house is a sheer rock face and beyond that a deep valley, now heavily wooded. This dramatic rock face and steep valley provided the picturesque setting for the 19th century garden at the Rocks. A pond was sited under the brow of the rock face, and natural issues of water were channelled through down the slope. This area is now covered with dense vegetation, and the garden features are almost hidden beneath the undergrowth.
Some of the former outbuildings of the Rocks are now being restored. They are surrounded by grassland.
The former park of the Rocks is now split into several different occupancies, and much of the land is now used for different purposes. The main house was demolished in 1957, and its site is marked by the presence of a large group of ruinous remains and outbuildings. Some of these are now being restored. Any garden features which did exist in the immediate vicinity of the house have been destroyed.
A large area of the park is now used for commercial forestry, and is covered in dense plantations of young conifers. These are interspersed with surviving native trees. This area includes several of the 19th century garden features, all very much decayed and overgrown.
The rest of the former parkland at the Rocks is now used for pasture farming. Isolated features still survive in a more or less decayed state. An avenue of limes that flanked the main entrance to the house still exist in vestigial form, and the gates to the park still stand.
The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade II Reference The Rocks house, now demolished
Mansion House Created 1600 to 1699
The 17th-century mansion house was gothicised in the 19th century. The house was demolished in 1957.
Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Grade II
Terrain: Flat land overlooking a deep valley.
There seems to be no foundation in fact for the idea that a ‘castle' existed at the Rocks in medieval times. The earliest documentary record of buildings there dates to 1686. Presumably the first landscaping activity there dates from the same period. There was more landscaping in the mid-18th century, when the avenue of limes flanking the main entrance was planted, and the wall along the Fosse Way was built. It is not unreasonable to suppose that a typical 18th century park was laid out around the Rocks at this time.
An extensive garden was laid out on the slopes of the valley to the west of the house. This probably took place in the early-19th century. A kind of grotto was created in the rock face, and a pond with a statue was built. Paths led through the woods to an ornamental footbridge, and a long staircase of stone led down to the bottom of the valley. This whole area is now so overgrown that it is difficult to reconstruct the scene there in the 19th century.
The main house at the Rocks was demolished in 1957, and the estate was divided. Since then, the park and garden have reverted to farmland and forest.
1957: The main house at the Rocks was demolished.
Feature created: 1800 to 1850
There is a three-arched footbridge, which constituted a 'picturesque' feature of the 19th century garden. It is now surrounded by trees and rather redundant. Presumably it once carried a path through the woodland.
A natural fissure in the rock was utilised to create a small grotto, with a tiny pond and cascade. This area is now overgrown.
This pond, now much decayed, is at the heart of the 19th century garden at the Rocks. A small statue originally stood at the centre of the pond.
There is a stone staircase to the bottom of the valley. This long serpentine staircase was an unusual feature of the 19th century garden at the Rocks. It led up from the valley bottom past jumbled rocks to the picturesque site of the pond.
A deep natural fissure in the rock face was exploited to create a tunnel which linked the house with the garden area under the rock face.
Organisations associated with this site
Historic England Role: Designating Authority
Sources of information
List of Buildings of Architectural and Historical Interest, County of Avon
Russett, V. Marshfield : an archaeological survey of a southern Cotswold parish (Bristol: County of Avon Public Relations and Publicity Department, 1985)
Contributor or Recorder Avon Gardens Trust
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