There are no other gardens like it in Britain. From the moment you arrive and wander through its green valley, you gain a unique and fascinating insight into early to mid 18th century English garden design. The garden, which surrounds local manor Painswick House, is a riot of colour from spring and through the summer. This tranquil haven, a home to plans which were available in the early 18th century, is surrounded in mystery as nobody knows who designed Painswick.
Painswick Rococo Garden, the only complete surviving Rococo garden in Britain, is associated with garden design from 1720 to 1760 when English gardens were changing from the formal to the informal. The garden’s flamboyant and frivolous features combined with buildings of unusual architectural styles, were used to show off the owner’s’ wealth while becoming an extension of the house to be enjoyed by the owner and his guests.
Here, within 6 acres of formal and informal gardens, a visitor can find a “pleasure ground” filled with ponds, woodland walks, a maze, Kitchen Garden and herbaceous borders, all set within glorious views of the Cotswold countryside.
Built in about 1740, the gardens were allowed to fall into disrepair, and by the 1970s they were overplanted with woodland and almost completely lost. Thankfully, in 1988 Painswick Rococo Garden Trust, a registered charity, was established with an ambitious restoration programme aimed to return the Garden to its former glory, restoring the garden back to how it was. A painting by local artist Thomas Robins dating from 1748, was invaluable in its restoration and used as a model as it shows the garden in its original glory while enabling garden historians to restore its original features and planting schemes.
Unlike many English garden styles, rococo does not rely on a wide variety of plantings. Instead, the viewer is presented with a pleasure seeking atmosphere of theatrical accents and architectural elements. Painswick Rococo Garden provides constant surprises. Here you may stubble upon unusual statues, a two-storey Pigeon House, a decorative Gothic Alcove, Tunnel Arbours built using Iroko wood, a wildflower and orchid meadow, as well as its heritage orchard and the kitchen garden that supplies the garden’s restaurant.
At the heart of the garden you may find an eye-catching Exedra, a white Gothic folly, surrounded by a stunning display of heritage roses. Another popular attraction is The Red House, a double façaded building painted red which is the perfect example of a rococo garden with its asymmetric features and and fanciful ornamentation.
Amongst the Garden surprises, The Maze, planted with Privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium) and the golden variety (Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’), really stands out. This feature was planted in 1998 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Thomas Robins’ painting of Painswick Rococo Garden, designed by Professor Angela Newing, who devoted an idea of incorporating the numbers 2, 5 and 0 into its layout.
This garden is famous for its winter snowdrops, glorious tulips and heritage roses in spring, as well as the autumnal harvest display of the historic fruit and vegetables grown at the Kitchen Garden in summer.
Opening hours & Admission:
10th Jan – 31st Oct: 10.30am – 5pm.
Admission: Adults: £7.20, Over 60’s: £6.30, Children (5-16): £3.30, Family (2 ads + 2 child): £18.
The cafe and shop are accessible for wheelchairs and there are disabled toilets. However as the Garden is set in a valley, access is not ideal. A restricted suggested route is available.
Before or after your visit make sure to enjoy a light lunch or a refreshing cup of tea at the cafe which uses produce grown in Painswick’s own Kitchen Garden.
Well behaved dogs are welcome on leads.