An eighteenth-century landscape park reveals the painterly instincts of its gentleman-architect designer. By Roger White ike many a worshipper at the shrines of Lutyens and Jekyll, I found my way to Hestercombe early on in my garden-visiting career. And like many a pilgrim, I there admired the geometric formality of their splendid terraced creation, commanding a broad, sloping prospect towards Taunton, without for a moment realizing that, lost in the wooded coomb behind me, was an equally fascinating achievement from a very different phase of garden history. The Lutyens-Jekyll layout, completed in 1908 for the Portman family, Sustainable home design turns its back on a house disagreeably Vic-torianized a generation earlier, and encourages the visitor to do likewise. But in the second half of the eighteenth century, Hestercombe was known among horticultural cognoscenti for an earlier landscape created by its then owner, Cople-stone Warre Bampfylde. In 1750, Coplestone (Cop to his family) inherited from his father, who had concentrated his efforts on making a handsome Georgian mansion out of the Elizabethan seat of the Warre family. Bampfylde junior was a man of parts: landowner, colonel of the Somerset Yeomanry, amateur architect and talented artist. Once master of his inheritance, and inspired perhaps by the activities of two friends and neighbours – Henry Hoare of Stourhead and Sir Charles Tynte of Halswell – he turned his painters eye upon the sheltered valley behind the house.
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