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Badminton 203


Badminton has a landscape park and pleasure grounds whose layout had its origin in the late-17th and early-18th centuries. Traces of this layout remain in spite of significant later modifications. There are also flower gardens and pleasure grounds dating from the 19th century. The site features a walled kitchen garden and numerous garden buildings, many of them listed.


The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

Pleasure grounds and park, begun in the late 17th and early 18th century by London and Wise, Bridgeman, and possibly John Mansfield; developed about 1746 by Kent, about 1750 by Thomas Wright and, in the later 18th century, reputedly by Lancelot Brown. The flower gardens and pleasure grounds have been developed since the 19th century.

NOTE This entry is a summary. Because of the complexity of this site, the standard Register entry format would convey neither an adequate description nor a satisfactory account of the development of the landscape. The user is advised to consult the references given below for more detailed accounts. Many Listed Buildings exist within the site, not all of which have been here referred to. Descriptions of these are to be found in the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest produced by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.


Badminton lies 7 kilometres north-east of junction 18 of the M4 motorway, about 9 kilometres east of Yate. Badminton House stands just north-east of the village of Great Badminton, which lies at the southern end of the park. The site, which occupies about 800 hectares, lies in undulating country and is bounded to the north by the A433 from Tetbury, to the south and west by minor roads, and to the east by agricultural land. The village of Little Badminton lies on the western edge of the site and Didmarton village stands at its north-east corner.

REFERENCES Note: There is a wealth of published material about this site. The key references are cited below.

R Atkyns, The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire(1712), pl facing p 242

D Verey,The Buildings of England: Gloucestershire The Cotswolds (1970), pp 254-8

D Stroud, Capability Brown (1975)

J Harris, The Artist and the Country House (1979), pp 125, 315, fig 47

J Sales, West Country Gardens (1981), pp 30-1

C Morris (ed), The Illustrated Journeys of Celia Fiennes 1685-c 1712 (1982), p 191

G Jackson-Stops, The Country House Garden: a Grand Tour (1987)

N Kingsley, The Country Houses of Gloucestershire, Volume One,1500-1660 (1989), pp 53-5

N Kingsley, The Country Houses of Gloucestershire, Volume Two,1660-1830 (1992), pp 55-61

Country Life, no 18 (5 May 1994), pp 64-7

Badminton, guidebook, (no date)

Description written: May 2000

Edited: March 2003

  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: Walled kitchen garden.
  • Planting
  • Description: Italianate orange garden.
  • Walk
  • Description: Woodland walks.
  • Mansion House (featured building)
  • Description: An enlargement and remodelling of an earlier house.
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  • Bath House
  • Description: Early 18th-century bath house.
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  • Orangery
  • Description: Early 18th-century orangery.
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  • Root House
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  • Deer House
  • Description: Mid-18th-century deer house.
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Tree Avenue, Cottage Ornee, Dovecote, Icehouse

Civil Parish

  • Badminton
  • Conservation Area
  • Reference: Great Badminton and Little Badminton
  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens
  • Reference: GD1548
  • Grade: I
  • The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building
  • Reference: Badminton House
  • Grade: I


There had been a house on the site since at least 1612. Licences to enlarge the park were granted in 1658 and 1664, and formal gardens were laid out around the house at the same time. Badminton has been the home of the Dukes of Beaufort since the late-17th century. George London, Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman all had a hand in the layout of the park and pleasure grounds during the late-17th and early-18th centuries. Additional work was carried out by William Kent around 1746, by Thomas Wright in about 1750, and reputedly in the later 18th century by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Work on the gardens and grounds has continued since the 19th century.

Detailed History

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):


Badminton belonged from the mid-13th century to the Boteler family, who continued as successful gentry into the 16th century. By the early 17th century, however, Nicholas Boteler was in financial difficulties and in 1612 was obliged to sell Badminton to Edward, fourth Earl of Worcester. At this time the house was a large, irregular, courtyard building. Edward settled the estate on his younger son Thomas Somerset, who probably remodelled the house to that shown on Kip's early 18th century engraving (Atkyns 1712). Thomas' daughter Elizabeth left Badminton to her cousin Henry, Lord Herbert in 1655.

Henry, the son and grandson of fervent Royalists, became Marquess of Worcester in 1667 and was created first Duke of Beaufort in 1682. The Somerset estates were seized by Parliament, but when Henry came of age in 1650 he set about repairing the family fortune. He became an MP and a personal friend of Cromwell and, by the time he inherited Badminton in 1655, he had won back most of the family estates. In 1657 he married Lady Beauchamp, a wealthy widow, and at the Restoration transferred his support to Charles II. He obtained licences to enlarge the originally modest park from both Cromwell (in 1658) and Charles II (in 1664) and laid out formal gardens around the house. By the end of the 17th century, the house had become the centre of a vast formal landscape, possibly designed by John Mansfield, with avenues radiating out across the countryside. Around the house was a formal garden with parterres, topiary, terraces, walks, and fountains. Henry Wise, the royal gardener, influenced the design.

The Marquess became a Privy Councillor and Lord President of the Council of Wales in 1672 before being awarded a dukedom for his loyalty to the Crown. He held Bristol against the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 and against William of Orange in 1688, after which he remained in political retirement until his death in 1700.

Henry had the present Badminton House (listed grade I) built from 1664 to 1691, perhaps to his own design (Kingsley 1992). The main facade, nearly twice as long as that of the previous house, was to the north. The east range was largely new but the south and part of the west ranges were retained from the earlier house. The second Duke made few changes to the house during his reign (1700-1714) but built a lodge in the park at Swangrove. The third Duke, however, who held the title from 1726 to 1745, was responsible for a major remodelling of Badminton, including the reduction of the five-storey north front to three storeys and the rebuilding of the west range. Francis Smith of Warwick was commissioned to undertake the work. The third Duke, advised by Charles Bridgeman, also began to deformalise the gardens. After the third Duke's death, his brother, the fourth Duke, continued to remodel Badminton, but employed the architect William Kent, who dramatically simplified the gardens and designed Worcester Lodge. The fourth Duke (d 1756) also employed Thomas Wright to design various garden buildings. By 1768 the park had more or less reached its present form, though Lancelot Brown is said to have carried out further work in the park, following Kent's landscaping (Stroud 1975). Badminton remained in the Beaufort family and is still in private hands today (2000).

Associated People



  • Avon Gardens Trust