Rendcomb College (also known as Rendcombe Park)6284

Cirencester, Cotswold, Gloucestershire, England

Brief Description

The well-timbered grounds at Rendcomb College comprise late-18th-century parkland, some terracing and artefacts from a mid-19th-century Italianate garden and a pinetum. The old brick walls of the kitchen garden also survive.

History

A new house was built in the late-17th century and formal gardens were laid out. In 1865 Sir Francis Goldsmid demolished the house and built a new one in the Italianate style. The grounds were further developed at this time. In 1913 the property was sold and became a school.

Detailed Description

The following is from a report prepared by the Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust in September 1997.

Of the late 17th/early 18th-century garden Brewer writes, referring to the Kip engraving (published 1714-5), 'That engraving curiously exhibits the disposal of the grounds in terraces, plots, ponds of formal shape, woods cut into fantastical patterns, vistas of trees and fountains designed as ornaments.'

By the late 18th century Rudder shows a very different picture - of parkland with no sign of a formal garden. Brewer comments 'it will be seen that the formal labours of those who indulged a perverse taste, by torturing nature into artificial resemblances, are entirely swept away by the better genius of recent ages. The whole domain is now lovely in natural charms; a cursory glance must be sufficient to convince the examiner that the dignity, as well as the beauty, of a family residence is advanced by such alterations as have here been effected.' Kingsley comments that the picture in Rudder shows a third storey added to the house while the formal garden had 'disappeared under a fashionable greensward.' A wash drawing of around 1840 by Peake also depicts parkland.

The mid-19th-century garden created by Hardwick for Sir Frances Goldsmid was detailed in the very informative sale particulars of 1878 as comprising beautifully laid out Italian gardens, charming pleasure grounds, a grandly timbered park studded with numerous plantations, an ornamental lake with cascade, walled kitchen gardens (three) with large ranges of glass-houses. The sale particulars also refer to 'most tastefully arranged flower gardens, three terraces with stone walls and parapets, Portland stone steps with piers and vases top and bottom.' A circular stone and slate temple on a high elevation overlooking the lake with its island was also a feature as was a very pretty rugged cascade at the foot of the lake.

By the time of the 1913 sale the grounds are described as of simple design but quite in keeping with the property. There is reference to a fountain (not noted in 1878) and to an 18-hole golf course. The kitchen gardens are again detailed.

An interested and knowledgeable gardener told us where to find the fountain, now located in the stable block. The centre-piece, which the gardener told us is listed, has been erected without its basin. The edging stone of that is now used to edge flower beds around the edge of the stable yard.

On the south west side of the house the three terraces, two long and one small, with their walls and urns are still visible. There is a large flat area on the north-west side of the house which could have been part of the formal garden shown by Kip. Part of it is now occupied by a large conservatory now used as the Assembly Hall. Looking at Kip's engraving in the field many similarities in the use of the land can be seen. The Pinetum, above the house, has fine specimens of yews, cedars and other trees. The golf course still exists and there are many mature trees. The old brick walls of the kitchen garden can still be seen but the lake is now silted up and overgrown.

Features
  • Balustrade
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  • Stable
  • Description: Mid-19th-century stables with some 20th-century rebuilding.
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  • Sundial
  • Description: Sundial base in stable courtyard.
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  • School (featured building)
  • Description: The building was altered in the 20th century.
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  • Gate Lodge
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  • Fountain
  • Description: The centre-piece of the fountain has been erected without its basin.
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The old brick walls of the kitchen garden can still be seen.
  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Bridge over road.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Bridge at south end of former lake.
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  • Ornamental Bridge
  • Description: Bridge over River Churn.
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  • River
  • Description: River Churn.
  • Terrace
  • Description: On the south west side of the house the three terraces, two long and one small.
  • Tree Feature
  • Description: The Pinetum, above the house, has fine specimens of yews, cedars and other trees.
Conservatory, Urn
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Rendcomb
History

Detailed History

The following is from a report prepared by the Gloucestershire Gardens and Landscape Trust in September 1997.

SUMMARY

The name is derived from rend, which is Saxon for circle, and combe, meaning valley. The manor is mentioned in Domesday and from 1166 was held by the Earls of Gloucester and their successors. Many families, including the Berkeleys, owned the estate until 1635 when it was acquired by the Guise family who built a new house (1661 David Verey/1685 Victoria Country History).

In 1863/4 the estate was bought by Sir Francis Goldsmid, MP for Reading and a bullion broker. In 1865 he demolished the house and erected a new one in the Italianate style which we see today. The architects was P C Hardwick and the builder Thomas Cubitt. It is famous for having no mortar thicker than a one penny piece. A grand stable block was also erected, this being in a French style. During the 1860s the river Churn was dammed to create a lake or lakes.

In 1878 and 1913 the estate was sold and in 1918 the estate was bought by F N H Wills for the purpose of founding Rendcomb College. There seem to have been at least three distinct phases in the history of this garden:

i) Late 17th/early 18th century as represented in the engraving by Kip which shows an elaborate, formal garden.

ii) Late 18th century when the garden shown by Kip has disappeared to be replaced by a landscaped park.

iii) Mid-19th century when a new house and garden in the Italian style were created with a lake (with island), terraces and a temple as important features.

Period

  • Late 18th Century
Associated People

People associated to Rendcomb College

Contact

Telephone

01793 445050

Official Website

Click Here

Other websites

Owners

    References

    References

    Contributors

    • Gloucestershire Gardens & Landscape Trust

    • Mary Ralphs

      1

    • Patricia Bilbey

      1