Historical context

Asthall Manor was built in the early 17th century, although a house has been on the site since the 13th century.   The present manor is a vernacular two-storey Jacobean house built in local Costwold limestone.  The garden, not including the walled garden, covers 2.4 ha and was designed by Julian and Isobel Bannerman for the present owners. Famously the house was the home of the Mitford family from 1919 to 1926. C E Bateman carried out extensions to the house at this time and may also have designed the walled garden buildings.

Walled Kitchen Garden

The garden is 0.43 ha and is on the opposite side of the road to the house.  It is square in shape, with walls on all sides, built of coursed limestone rubble.  There is no evidence on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd edn OS maps that this was a garden, so it is probable that it originated in the 20th century during the occupation of the manor by the Redesdale and the Mitford family.

Two buildings in the walled garden echo social activities in the Mitfords era. The slate-roofed Arts and Crafts building contains antique farm implements and machinery, while the adjacent nearly derelict two-roomed summer house has evidence of shelving, cupboards and a stove.

The small stone pen on the east wall of the garden, could have been for animals and may have origins in an earlier and more agricultural use of the area. There is a water point in the centre north part of the garden.

Current use

Currently the walled garden is laid to grass with less than a quarter separated for fruit and vegetables, in the north west corner. There is a modern reproduction Victorian glasshouse.  The north wall has evidence of fruit tree training and an older specimen pear tree amongst some new planting.

Special features

The Arts and Crafts building, the derelict summerhouse and the walled animal pen.

Designation status

None for the walled garden.

Degree of completeness

The garden walls are complete, however the planting, frameyard and glasshouses are no longer extant.

Ownership and access

Privately owned.  Occasionally open with NGS

Sources of information

Otwell, Gordon (1999) Literary Strolls Around the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean. Sigma Leisure. p. 71

Unpublished site survey undertaken by volunteers with Oxfordshire Gardens Trust, April 2013

Map reproduced by permission the National Library of Scotland – Maps

Name of district

West Oxfordshire

Grid reference

SP 28653 11277

Arrival 27th July 1921

The Botanic Gardens

Magdalen College

The bike ride from Woodstock to Oxford would have been along the same road as today but a much quieter road. The 1921 [Oxford and District special edition one inch map] shows the road  passing by Yarnton, over the Oxford Canal, through Peartree Hill, past Upper Wolvercote and down the Woodstock Road. As Loyal and Sam arrived in Oxford on the afternoon of the 27th July, it was possibly quite a leisurely ride.

The following day they manage to squeeze in visits to the Botanic Gardens, Magdalen College, a glimpse of Merton, lunch at the University Museum, a flash past Wadham, St John’s College, the Bodleian (Duke Humphrey’s), the Radcliffe Camera and All Souls College.

In the Botanic Gardens Loyal was able to identify a tree that he had been unable to at Blenheim – (possibly) the ‘Cypress’ planted by ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The specimen he recognised at the Botanic Gardens was a Taxodium disticheum – the cypress that Loyal may have been familiar with from the swampy south eastern States of America.  The tree planted in 1840 was unfortunately severely damaged by a freak gust of wind and the top snapped off.  It had to be felled in 1995.  To celebrate the 400 anniversary of the gardens (2021) it has been decided to plant a Taxodium very close to the original spot where the first tree grew.

Just over the road at Magdalen College, Loyal was greatly impressed with the ‘most beautiful tower  . . .but the finest thing there is the meadow with the deer, the walk along the Cherwell and best of all Addison’s walk with the beautiful trees overhanging’