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HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

By the end of the 16th century a park at Great Tew had been created, divided into Inner, Middle, and Outer Parks. Further related enclosure took place in the early 1620s, when Sir Lawrence Tanfield enclosed land including Cow Hill. By this time Great Tew was almost all in single ownership (Victoria County History). In 1626 Lucius Cary (?1610-43) inherited the Great Tew estate from Tanfield, his grandfather, and in 1633 inherited his father's title, becoming the second Viscount Falkland. Falkland was a poet and renowned philosopher who was influential at nearby Oxford University, and it is likely that the three linked, stone-walled gardens which were erected close to the manor house were constructed and laid out under his direction. The 17th-century manor landscape, which included the manor house, walled gardens, The Grove, and the park, enclosed the parish church and churchyard (Lambert 2001). A great avenue was probably created at this time, running northwards from the centre of the park across the valley below to high ground beyond. Falkland died at the age of thirty-three at the Battle of Newbury, fighting for the Royalists, and his heirs sold the estate in 1698 to Francis Keck. After Keck's death in 1728 his nephew John Tracy, who took the name Keck, inherited the estate and was responsible for the enclosure of the remainder of the parish in 1763. This resulted in many small parcels of land being amalgamated under his management and ownership. John Keck died in 1774, and subsequently a substantial part of the estate was bought by the nabob George Stratton, who bought the remainder in 1793, amassing an estate of several thousand acres.

Following Stratton's death in 1800, his son, George Frederick, inherited what was generally considered to be one of the finest estates in the county and quickly demolished much of the manor house which stood on a platform north-west of the church. G F Stratton moved into the Keck dower house to the north, which at that time stood at the top of the street running up from the village green (VCH). In 1803 G F Stratton consulted Humphry Repton (1752-1818) about improvements to the estate, particularly on the construction of a new mansion. Repton's advice was presented in a Red Book dated 1804 containing written suggestions and watercolour illustrations of his suggestions. He suggested that the new mansion should be built in the centre of the walled park, aligned very close to the south end of the old avenue. His principal landscape improvements concerned the south-facing valley-side to the north of the park, as this would form such a prominent feature in the view from the new mansion. The new house was never built, and it appears that Repton's landscape suggestions were not immediately implemented.

In 1808 Stratton leased much of his farmland to the young John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843) for a demonstration of 'Scotch husbandry', having read Loudon's treatise An immediate and effectual mode of raising the rental of landed property (1808). Loudon only stayed until 1811, and his tenure was not a success, with Stratton spending large sums for little return. Loudon did however lay out a series of substantial farm roads on the north side of the valley, north of the house and main park, centred on Tew Lodge, a model farmhouse built for him by Stratton and demolished by the 1830s (OS 1833). Loudon may also have laid out the adjacent Cow Hill and its environs as parkland, incorporating Repton's general suggestion, and widened a brook into a narrow lake close to the Lodge. The Lodge Ponds, as the lake was called, had also been suggested by Repton, but Loudon's purpose was to form the reservoir for a threshing mill. Loudon went on to become the foremost influence of his day on landscape design.

Matthew Robinson Boulton, a Birmingham industrialist, bought the estate in 1816, making extensions to the dower house, by now the main residence, together with improvements to the gardens, village, and wider estate, before his death in 1842. After his death, his son, Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, continued to improve the estate, enlarging the house, constructing The New Gardens as kitchen gardens, and reworking the 17th-century Grove. Following M P W Boulton's death in 1894 the estate continued in the Boulton family. His great-nephew, Major Eustace Robb (died 1985), took up residence in 1952 and inherited the estate in 1962. The estate remains (2001) in private ownership.
 

Site timeline

After 1626: Walled gardens, a Grove and an avenue are laid out by Lucius Cary, the second Viscount Falkland.

1803 to 1804: Humphry Repton is consulted about a new house site and produces a Red Book entry on Great Tew.

1808 to 1811: John Claudius Loudon manages land on the estate and builds many farm roads.

People associated with this site

Designer: John Claudius Loudon (born 08/04/1783 died 14/12/1843)

Designer: Humphry Repton (born 21/04/1752 died 24/03/1818)

Features

stream

The site is dominated by a valley running from west to east containing a small stream.

tree belt

tree clump

kitchen garden

Feature created: After 1842

lake