Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]


Tats beautiful and highly decorated spot, which is the property and the residence of the Earl of Malmsbury, is situ ated on the banks of the Thames, in the county of Berks, at a small distance from the town of Henley, in Oxfordshire, which is on the other side of the river.

The place we are about to describe, in whatever point of view it may be regarded, whether as to landscape charm, provincial position, interior accommodation, and domestic convenience, has few rivals anywhere, and certainly may be classed among the first ornaments of the river which washes and reflects it.

Park Place was originally the seat of Lord Archibald Hamilton, the uncle of the present duke of that title; it was afterwards the residence of his Royal Highness Frederic, Prince of Wales, the father of his present Majesty, and which he left for Cliefden, the seat of the Orkney family, another proud situation on the Thames, and some years since unfortunately destroyed by fire.

General, afterwards Field Marshal, Conway became the purchaser of it, and to him it is indebted for all its decorative improvements. There were no hills to form, or vales; nature had already moulded it into an abundant variety of pleasing shapes; and the most beautiful stream, in a country that abounds in every kind of water, was prepared to enrich it; but its enrichments, its decorations, its artificial arrangements of every kind have proceeded from the happy judgment, and risen under the creative taste of its late possessor; on whose death it was purchased by the Earl of Malmsbury, who has since made it a place of his residence.

This venerable and distinguished nobleman found but little to do in the way of improvement. The latter plantations of Marshal Conway are rising into height and thickening into shade, and consequently in a continual state of

advancement towards that effect which their mature growth, it is supposed, will hereafter produce. But his lordship has done that which must be allowed to add to the possessional importance of the place-he has made several purchases, by which the domain is enlarged, and the property consesequently enhanced; this circumstance may ultimately produce an extent of ornamental improvement, and add even to the decorative beauties of the spot, by calling in more space and new features into its service.

Having made these preliminary observations, we shall proceed to give as detailed an account of Park Place as the limits of this work will allow. A volume might be filled with the description, if every particular part, and all its abundant varieties, were adequately examined; and a few pages is all that can be spared to it.-Nor will it be considered as disrespectful to the noble lord who now possesses it, whose private virtues and amiable qualities endear him to the circle of his friends, and whose eminent talents and distinguished services have rendered him an object of national estimation, if, in describing the place he now enjoys, (and may he long enjoy it), I dwell upon the taste, the feeling, and picturesque taste of that accomplished, excellent, and venerated person who must be considered as the new creator of it.

In speaking of Park Place scientifically, as a rare example of landscape gardening, its first character is grandeur of composition, in which it is unrivalled on the banks of the Thames. The brow of Cliefden is, in itself, a nobler, but it is only a single, object.-The terrace of Oatlands possesses, perhaps, a more superb range of sylvan beauty; but that is all, and there is no fine part to lead to, or succeed it.-Thefine rising grounds which form the base of Nuneham, and stretch on to such a length above the river, in such striking variety, and clad in all the richness of splendid cultivation,. are combined with nothing of peculiar beauty beyond them: they are, as it were, the frontispiece to a noble park, whose extent, woods, and animated circumstances give it the spe- cific, but general character of such a domain. Park Place, on

« PreviousContinue »