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Chippenham Park


Landscaped pleasure grounds and park of 162 hectares originally laid out between 1702 and 1712 by Edward Russell, Lord Orford. The site was landscaped in 1795 by William Emes and in the later part of the 1790s by Samuel Lapidge.


Virtually flat land.
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):

19th century pleasure grounds surrounded by a park laid out at the beginning of the 18th century and landscaped in the 1790s by William Emes and Samuel Lapidge.



Chippenham Park is situated c 6km north of Newmarket, close to the borders between Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. It lies at the southern end of the village of Chippenham in a well-wooded part of the countryside. The roughly rectangular, virtually flat park covers c 162ha with the Hall placed close to the northern boundary, near the village which forms most of that boundary. The park is completely enclosed by a red-brick park wall, along the south side of which runs a farm track, and along the west side the minor Chippenham to Snailwell road. Beyond these boundaries lies open farmland. The B1085 Chippenham to Kentford road runs along the east boundary and divides Chippenham Park from the grounds of the Manor House to the north-east.


The main entrance to Chippenham Park is from the village on the northern boundary, past a matching pair of neo-classical lodges, known as East and West Lodge, with flanking gateways (listed grade II) by James Wyatt. The drive runs south-east with a wall to the west and a row of limes to the east, past the late C17 stable block (listed grade II*), and then turns south and west to arrive at the south-east front of the Hall, the line of limes continuing into the park. The main C18 entrance drive, now (1999) disused, enters the park c 4.3km south of the Hall, off the A11 Bury Road on the northern outskirts of Newmarket. Here double red-brick gate piers surmounted by pineapple finials and linked by a wrought-iron screen wall stand beside a late C19 red-brick lodge, known as the Bury Road Lodge. The drive, lined with beech (both drive and trees now (1999) partially lost), runs straight for c 3.2km until it reaches the park wall. Here the pair of neo-classical ashlar limestone High Park Lodges, linked by a Triumphal Arch (listed grade II*), were erected by Lord Sandys in c 1745 to mark the entrance to the park. The drive, now (1999) reduced to a farm track and slightly realigned after the First World War, runs north through the park to join the north drive beside the stables. A third, minor lodged entrance, beside Keeper's Cottage, breaks the park wall c 650m to the west of the Hall, its drive leading directly to the walled kitchen garden. A further lodge on the eastern boundary, the old East Lodge, was demolished in the 1960s.


Chippenham Hall (listed grade II) is a large two-storey country house built of red brick with limestone dressings in the Queen Anne-Revival style. The south-east, garden facade, to which the drives arrived until the 1930s, has a symmetrical layout with triangular pediments and a stone cornice. Since the single-storey wings to south-west and north-east were added by the architect Paul Phipps in c 1930, the north-west courtyard has become the entrance. The present Hall was built by an unknown architect for Montagu Tharp in 1886 on the site of the early C17 mansion, and incorporates the fabric of Lord Orford's late C17 house and John Tharp's hunting box of c 1795.

Some 100m north-north-west of the Hall is the stable block (listed grade II*). It is built of red brick with lighter red-brick dressings under steeply pitched slate roofs. The symmetrical two-storey plan has a central clock tower flanked by two wings with seven bays each, terminated by single-storey blocks. The stable block was erected by Lord Orford at the end of the C17, the clock tower being recorded by Celia Fiennes during her visit (Morris 1947). It is now (1999) converted to domestic housing and has its own access drive from the north lodge gates.


The gardens and pleasure grounds cover c 6ha and lie to the east, south and west of the Hall, the area closest to the Hall being enclosed by a ha-ha. A large lawn off the gravel terrace on the north-east front is bordered by deep late C20 plantings of mixed shrubs. The south-east front leads onto an upper terrace, laid out in the later C20 with mixed shrub borders. It is enclosed by a low brick wall with central steps on the south-east side leading down to a wide lawn recently (1990s) planted with a yew parterre. This looks over the park and is focused on a gap in the tree planting to the south-east. Some of the mature limes in this vista are large enough to be potential survivors from the early C18 formal layout. Close to the ha-ha boundary south of the Hall is a mid C20 walled swimming pool enclosure.

To the west of the Hall, paths covered with wide rose arches (added late C20) lead through pleasure-ground planting of mixed species shrubs and trees to the northern end of the long Canal ( a sinuous body of water created by William Emes in the 1790s from an early formal canal ) which stretches south into the park. The banks of the Canal at the northern end are planted with mixed trees and shrubs as part of the pleasure ground. The rose-lined path leads to a bridge over the north end of the Canal and the walled kitchen garden beyond it, along the outer south-east wall of which is a long herbaceous border planted in the late C20. To the south of the walled garden, between the informalised Canal and the remains of the western arm of the T-shaped canal in Ash Wood (see below) is an area of grass walks under trees and shrubs, designed by Emes and redeveloped in the late C20, known as the Shrubbery Walks.


The park, the majority of which remains under grass, lies mainly to the south of the Hall. To the north-east of the Hall are tennis courts and the village cricket pitch, beside the remains of a lime avenue leading to a spot in the boundary wall where a gate existed in 1712. To the north of the Hall the land is divided into paddocks where the early C18 dovecote (c 150m north of the Hall, listed grade II) and the remains of an icehouse (c 300m north-north-west of the Hall) are located. The north park also contains earthwork remains of the village, depopulated in 1702 to make way for the creation of the park (Spufford 1967). The large Gifford Wood lies in the north-west corner and below it, Ash Wood, which runs between the western boundary and the pleasure ground and contains canal-like stretches of water shown to be extant on the 1712 estate map. These may be the remains of a late C17 water garden (Campbell 1998). Below Ash Wood the south-west section of the park is now (late C20) mainly under arable cultivation.

The remainder of the park to the south and south-east of the Hall is well scattered with mature individual trees, blocks of younger trees and edged by deep plantations. Two lines of lime, by local legend said to have been planted by Lord Orford to represent the positions of the British and French fleets at the battle of La Hogue, in fact appear to define the limits of Lord Orford's park and may simply be the remains of boundary trees which were kept when John Tharp and William Emes extended the park boundary at the end of the C18.

The park laid out by Lord Orford at the beginning of the C18 is depicted in the 1712 estate map; it shows Gifford Wood to have been the Common, a series of formal canals including one large T-shaped body of water, and the park laid out with a complex formal arrangement of avenues. The paddocks to the north of the Hall however are shown to be much as they survive today. When John Tharp commissioned William Emes to landscape the park, the sinuous Canal was created from one of the formal water bodies, the spoil from which he used to create gentle mounds for tree planting. He also softened the formal lines of the early C18 planting into groups and clumps and over 1,000,000 trees were planted, mainly at the direction of Samuel Lapidge. Although considerable replanting has been carried out during the C20, the character of the late C18 park survives.


The 1.5ha walled kitchen garden lies c 200m to the west of the Hall. It is surrounded by a high wall of light-coloured local red brick with a fine two-storey gardener's cottage incorporated into the north-west wall. Part of the early C19 range of glasshouses also survives on this wall. The garden, which is divided into two compartments, is currently (1999) uncultivated. Lord Orford erected the walled garden at the beginning of the C18 and it is shown on his 1712 survey in its current position, divided into quarters. The quarters survived into the C20, being depicted on a plan of the kitchen garden as it was in 1938 (Watkins, 1996).

Immediately to the north-west of the Hall is a small housekeeper's cottage attached to a second walled garden used for vegetable production.


J Britton and E Wedlake Brayley, The Beauties of England and Wales (1801)

J C Loudon, Encyclopaedia of gardening (1822)

C Morris (ed), The Journeys of Celia Fiennes (1947)

M Spufford, A Cambridge community (1967)

N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire (1970), p 322

C C Taylor, The Cambridgeshire Landscape (1973)

J Kenworthy-Browne et al, Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses III, (1981), p 11

Cambridgeshire Parklands, (Cambridgeshire Record Office 1990), p 44

M J Ross, Chippenham: an East Anglian estate village (1995)

T Way, Cambridgeshire parklands survey, (Internal survey for Cambridgeshire County Council 1998)

C Campbell, Chippenham Park (extract from Dip AA, 1998) [copy on EH file]

Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust Newsletter, (Spring 1998)


Heber Lands, Survey of Chippenham Park, 1712 (71-93), (Cambridgeshire Record Office)

W Emes and Webb, A plan of the park at Chippenham, 1792 (private collection)

Enclosure map for Chippenham, 1810 (Cambridgeshire Record Office)

H Watkins, Plan of the kitchen garden in 1938 (drawn 1996), (private collection)

OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1881

2nd edition published 1903

OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1886

Description written: June 2000

Amended: December 2000

Edited: January 2001

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The gardens at Chippenham Park are open 3 times each year under the National Gardens Scheme. Pre-booked tours can also be arranged.


The site was purchased in 1688 by Edward Russell who transformed the land into pleasure grounds and enclosed parkland of 350 acres (141 hectares) between 1702 and 1712 although it is speculated that the formal gardens were laid out before the enclosure.

In the late-18thcentury John Tharp, the new owner, engaged William Emes to provide a plan for changes to the flat parkland, which included the destruction of the formal gardens located to the south of the hall. The new plans included the construction of a tapering lake and the planting of over 1000 trees, including two lines of lime trees which represented the formations of the British and French fleets at the Battle of La Hogue.

The site also features a pair of Neo-Classical Lodges built in 1794 by James Wyatt, an 18th century Dovecote and triumphal gateway arch, extensive walled kitchen garden, an herbaceous border along the southern wall and overall a wide range of trees and shrubs.

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):


In 1688 the manor of Chippenham was purchased by Admiral Edward Russell, later to become Lord Orford. In 1696 Russell added most of the remainder of the copyhold land in the village to his estate and in 1702 wrote to the king asking permission to make a park. The granting of his wish resulted in great changes to the landscape. He moved the southern part of the main village street, rehousing villagers in a new model village designed by Adam Russell, and was thus able to completely rebuild the mansion, add a stable block, and surround these buildings by a park of about 320 acres (around 133 hectares) which was entirely enclosed within a continuous wall. Celia Fiennes, visiting Chippenham in 1698, records the landscape she encountered before Lord Orford made his alterations (Morris 1947). Orford's changes are recorded on an estate map dated 1712 which shows a number of formal avenues in the park, a large walled garden and a substantial T-shaped canal. In 1727 Lord Orford died and was succeeded by his niece Letitia, whose husband Lord Sandys built the southern lodges and triumphal arch.

Following a number of rapid changes of ownership, during which time the Hall was mostly demolished leaving only a small stucco hunting box, the estate was purchased by John Tharp, the owner of a Jamaican sugar plantation. He extended the park by some 30 acres (about 12.5 hectares) and partly rebuilt the enclosing wall. Tharp also commissioned William Emes (1730-1803) to produce a plan for landscaping the park, James Wyatt (1747-1813) to design new lodges and Samuel Lapidge (1744-1806) to advise on a massive tree planting programme (Campbell 1998). Although Tharp asked Wyatt to begin designs for a new house, he was forced to return to Jamaica, leaving his younger son John Tharp II in charge. John senior died in Jamaica in 1804, leaving Chippenham to his ten-year-old grandson John Tharp III, his own son John II to remain in residence and care for the boy until he became twenty-four years old. In 1815, at the age of twenty-one, John Tharp III was married by his mother to Lady Hannah Charlotte Hay but he was soon declared insane. His uncle John Tharp II continued to manage his nephew's affairs and lived the remainder of his life at the Hall. When John II died in 1851 his eldest son Joseph was appointed to manage the estate for his first cousin, 'John the Lunatic', at which time the estate was let for shooting and the Hall occupied only periodically. Following Joseph's death in 1875 and his cousin John's in 1883, the estate eventually passed to Joseph's third and only surviving son, William Montagu Tharp, who took up residence in the Hall and made extensive alterations to it in 1886. His widow Annabella continued to live at Chippenham after her husband's death in 1899 and was succeeded in 1916 by her nephew Gerard Tharp. Gerard and his wife Dora registered the estate as the Chippenham Park Estate Company in 1932, two years before Gerard died.

During the Second World War there were three military camps in the park and the Hall was partly used as a hospital. On the death of Dora Tharp in 1948, the estate passed to Basil Bacon, son of Gerard's sister Beatrix. His daughter, Mrs Anne Crawley, succeeded in 1985 and the estate remains (1999) in single private ownership.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD1606
  • Grade: II


  • House (featured building)
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Boundary Wall
  • Description: The park is completely enclosed by a red-brick park wall.
  • Lake
  • Gate Lodge
  • Description: A pair of Neo-Classical Lodges built in 1794 by James Wyatt.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Dovecote
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gateway
  • Description: Triumphal gateway arch.
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Herbaceous Border
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public


Civil Parish





  • Cambridgeshire Gardens Trust