Quex Park 2745

Birchington, England, Kent, Thanet

Brief Description

Quex Park has an informal garden laid out in the early-19th century by John Powell to form the gardens of the house, although the estate is thought to date from the 15th century. The gardens feature lawns, specimen trees, a sunken pond, fountain garden and a Victorian Walled Garden. The 19th-century house is now the site of the Powell-Cotton museum.

History

The 1449 house was replaced by a Regency mansion between 1808 and 1813.

Visitor Facilities

The site is open between March and October. Please see: http://www.quexmuseum.org/visitingus/opening-times.htm More information

Detailed Description

Quex Park stands as a unique and valuable island of wooded parkland and amenity landscape in the rather bleak and monotonous intensive agricultural (vegetables and cereals) and residential Thanet area of east Kent. It is also remarkable that it has remained reasonably intact and in private ownership. The house has been through many developments and there has been a loss of landscape features throughout the area in the last century or so.

The Powell-Cotton Museum, founded by Major Powell-Cotton, represents an extensive and unique collection of stuffed African and Asian mammals, and tribal material. The gardens are of interesting horticultural value and quality, and act as an effective setting to the house. The grounds are spacious, with well-mown lawns, fine specimen trees, some shrubs and plant borders. A sunken pond/fountain garden is an especially attractive feature, and is due to be restored.

Notable trees are cedars, beeches, wellingtonias and horse chestnuts, and in the more formal area, are the remnants of a terrace, mulberries, a catalpa, a fine weeping Sophora, and a unique fig arbour trained over a metal dome. The October storm in 1987 caused considerable damage to Quex. Some trees were felled or damaged, especially in the woodland fringes. Trees within the grounds were less affected. The Sopliora and fig arbour were undamaged.

The huge walled kitchen gardens with their glasshouses, potting sheds, apple store and so on still exist, though in a rather neglected state. This aspect of the site is possibly the most significant in terms of garden history, for here is preserved much of the ‘mechanics' behind the running of a large county house during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

Social distinctions are much in evidence, with the tiny bothies in which dwelt the gardeners' boys contrasting sharply with the nearby substantial residence of the head gardener. In this garden remains much evidence of rapid advances in garden technology (for example, steam heating), and a valuable reflection of and insight into the society that constructed it. The site is one of the most important gardens of east Kent for these reasons.

The Kent Gardens Trust were investigating a possible restoration programme and a very detailed study was carried out. The proposal to restore the kitchen garden seems to be in abeyance, probably due to lack of funding and sponsorship.

The parkland is extensively cultivated between the tree belts and clumps, with limited grazing pasture now remaining. Two important historic features of the park are the Waterloo Tower, a remarkable brick and cast iron affair inspired by the tower of Faversham church and built in 1819, and a round castellated brick tower (dating from around 1830) to the north of the house. This tower is said to have been used as a lookout and for signalling by flag to family yachts in the Channel. The Waterloo Tower contains a 12 bell peal rung regularly by the local association and by visiting ringers.

There is also a unique collection of cannons at Quex Park.

A replanting programme to replace trees and shrubs felled and damaged in the storms of 1987 and 1990 was begun in the winter of 1990/91, aided by grants, and will continue in 1991/92. The general idea has been to re-emphasise the Victorian/Edwardian ‘feel' to the pleasure grounds.

Features

Style

  • Informal
  • Specimen Tree
  • Description: Notable trees are cedars, beeches, wellingtonias and horse chestnuts, and in the more formal area, are the remnants of a terrace, mulberries, a catalpa, a fine weeping Sophora, and a unique fig arbour trained over a metal dome.
  • Mansion House (featured building)
  • Description: Regency mansion. Further wings were added later in the 19th century.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The huge walled kitchen gardens with their glasshouses, potting sheds, apple store and so on still exist, though in a rather neglected state.
  • Tower
  • Description: This feature is the Waterloo Tower, a remarkable brick and cast iron affair inspired by the tower of Faversham church. The Waterloo Tower contains a 12 bell peal rung regularly by the local association and by visiting ringers.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Tower
  • Description: This feature is a round castellated brick tower (dating from around 1830) to the north of the house. This tower is said to have been used as a lookout and for signalling by flag to family yachts in the Channel.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Lawn, Fountain, Pond
Access & Directions

Access Contact Details

The site is open between March and October. Please see: http://www.quexmuseum.org/visitingus/opening-times.htm

Directions

The site is 1 mile south-east of Birchington on the Isle of Thanet. Please see: http://www.quexmuseum.org/visitingus/howtofindus.htm
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Birchington
History

Detailed History

The first recorded owners were the Parker family in the 14th century. The name Quex is derived from the next owners, the Quekes, who came into possession in the 15th century. John Quekes built his house in 1449 and this was much enlarged by the Crispe family in the 16th century. In 1808-13 John Powell replaced this with a Regency mansion and wings were added later in the century. Museum galleries were added between 1895 and 1973.
References

References