Painswick Rococo Garden is a beautiful landscaped garden in the Cotswolds, where you could easily spend a few hours wandering around the grounds before grabbing lunch at the dog friendly cafe. You need to pay to get in, but you can save with annual membership and it’s such a lovely place to explore that we didn’t mind paying for the day.
Designed in the early 1700s by Benjamin Hyett, Painswick Rococo Garden is the country’s sole surviving rococo garden. Nowadays, the gardens are lovingly cared for by a charity, so there are some rules to follow to keep the gardens in good order – please keep dogs on a lead and no picnics inside the grounds.
The walk is picturesque, with the seasons offering different displays – in spring; see the colourful tulips bloom, in the summer; walk around the kitchen garden to see what’s growing, and in winter; visit the snowdrop grove. There’s lots to explore here – small but impressive garden buildings, a bluebell walk, a great maze that kids will love and even a brilliant hidden play area in the woods.
‘Back in the 1740s, Benjamin Hyett designed an unusual garden to entertain his guests at Painswick House. This was a theatrical place, nestled in a hidden valley and perfect for holding intimate garden parties. It was a country gentleman’s experimental creation, not the realisation of a horticultural dream. Instead of an orderly flower garden, this is a haven of peace and tranquillity to explore, sprinkled with quirky features to tickle your fancy.
Rococo describes a period of art fashionable in Europe in the 1700s, identifiable particularly in furniture and architecture. Some of the key features include highly ornamental decoration, the use of pastel colours and asymmetry. In art, beauty and sexuality are often celebrated.
The rococo period was comparatively short as fashion moved on. The English Landscape garden was growing in popularity and the establishment started to look down their noses at the perceived vulgarity of rococo.
The Garden was altered according to the taste of the time over the following 200 years, with the kitchen garden being the principal surviving element (though changed in shape).
It was after an exhibition of Thomas Robins’ paintings that garden historians contacted Lord Dickinson, a descendant of Charles Hyett. The Garden was a jungle, having been planted with timber after it was abandoned in the 1950s. The historians saw the potential of restoring the country’s only surviving rococo garden and with their encouragement, Lord and Lady Dickinson began an ambitious programme of work. In 1984 work commenced in earnest and in 1988 they handed control of the restoration to Painswick Rococo Garden Trust and granted the Trust a long lease of the Garden.’
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