Historical context

This large rural estate lies five kilometres east of Chipping Norton, comprising early 18th century formal and informal pleasure grounds, with later additions. The mansion house, built 1706–11, was badly damaged by fire in 1831. The estate was purchased by Thomas Brassey in 1869 and the architect Alfred Waterhouse was employed to restore the interior of the mansion and to make various other improvements including the construction of a new walled garden in the later 19th century. An earlier walled nursery garden lies to the south.  The mansion and park is currently occupied by an hotel and golf club.

Walled Kitchen Garden

The Victorian walled kitchen garden lies 275 metres east of the mansion, occupying a rectangle of 0.85 ha, orientated north-east to south-west. The 1st edn OS (1880) map shows glasshouses along the length of the inner north-west wall, and five further glasshouses or frames in a yard to the north. There were perimeter and cruciform paths, and paths around the outside walls in the slips to the east, south and west. All these features are shown extant on the 3rd edn OS (1922) map. The 1st edn OS map also shows plantings, possibly fruit trees, alongside the paths in the slips and the garden.

The original brick walls are complete. In the middle of the north-west wall is a two-storey brick tower with a round-arched gateway, and a water tank on the first floor. This was the original entrance from the frameyard, and there are central arched pedestrian gateways in the other three walls. At the centre of the garden is a circular dipping pond, with a decorative edging in Pulhamite. Modern glasshouses now line the inner north-west wall while the outer face has a range of garden stores and sheds. Well-preserved iron fixtures survive on the outer east, south and west walls. The original gardener’s cottage stands at the north east corner of the garden.

A rectangular walled nursery garden lies 400 metres south of the Victorian walled kitchen garden and is shown on the 1st edn and later OS maps. Built of stone and lined with brick, this 18th century garden has the same orientation as the Victorian kitchen garden, an area of 0.83 ha, perimeter and cruciform paths, slips to the east, south and west walls, and a central dipping pond.

Current use

The kitchen garden is largely laid to grass, with a wide variety of ornamental shrubs and small trees in the borders, both internally and externally. The frameyard is now a car park.

Special features

Central dipping pond. Two-storey entrance in north-west wall.

Designation status

Heythrop Park is included in the Historic England Register of Historic Parks and Gardens at Grade II*.

Degree of completeness

The walls, gateways, paths and central pond are extant.

Ownership and access

Not open to the public, except by special arrangement with the hotel management.

Sources of information

Historic England: The National Heritage List for England (NHLE)

Unpublished site survey by volunteers with Oxfordshire Gardens Trust, March 2013

Map reproduced by permission of National Library of Scotland – Maps

Name of district

West Oxfordshire

Grid reference

SP 36747 26542

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’