Within the grounds of Kingston Bagpuize House, visitors can see features of previous gardens such as the Terrace Walk. Some of the yews in the garden are over 300 years old and in West Park, there is a London Plane Platanus x Hispanic, which is approximately 275 years old. Many other trees, including the Wellingtonias, were planted in Victorian times.
The greatest influence on the present garden was from Miss Marlie Raphael, who lived here from 1939 until her death in 1976. With the help of friends, including the nurseryman Sir Harold Hillier and Nancy Lindsay of Sutton Courtenay, she planned and planted the garden and parks to the east of the house, to give colour and interest throughout the year.
The noteworthy collection includes many unusual and rare plants, some of which have grown to a remarkable size on the greensand belt crossing the garden.
In 1995, when Francis and Virginia Grant became owners, they started on the restoration of the gardens. With the generous help from garden enthusiasts and experts, they identified many of the plants. Specimen trees, shrubs, perennials and many varieties of bulbs continue to be introduced, with the aim of adding to Marlie Raphael’s original theme. Since 2003, in memory of her husband, both Church Copse and Court Close Copse, across West Park, have been cleared to allow the hidden carpets of snowdrops to be enjoyed by visitors in early spring.
The Parkland and Copses
In the 19th Century, many trees were planted in West Park and today there are oaks and planes of majestic size. Just beside the roundel in the centre of the park is a large London Plane, its circumference is 1.4 metres. Walking the cut grass paths, visitors are invited to enjoy this mature parkland and to enter Court Close Copse. At the north end of the Copse there is a magnificent pollarded oak tree thought to be over 250 years old. In the tree canopy, red kites have nested and buzzards, owls and other birds of prey can also be seen. Roe deer and muntjac are frequent visitors.
Affording a lovely view of the parish church the Copse is carpeted with snowdrops in early spring.
Garden Park and East Park
During the Second World War, Garden Park and East Park and beyond were covered with Nissen huts and aircraft hangers as part of Kingston Bagpuize Airfield. The earlier avenue was felled and happily the Wellingtonias, then some 80 years old, together with a beech, lime and oak trees close to the Courtyard buildings were spared. The beech avenue seen today was planted in 1951, having taken over six years after the end of the war for the foundations and debris of the airfield buildings to be removed, allowing it to return to its former pre-war glory. In both Garden Park and East Park there is now an interesting collection of trees planted alongside the new avenue.