Looking back from the gardens to the entrance of Buscot Park.
I’d never been told I couldn’t take pictures inside an National Trust property, but there’s a first time for everything. She was polite and friendly, to be sure, but clear. I suspected the explanation for the prohibition may have had something to do with the fact that the donor family was still in residence. When a property is donated to the National Trust, the conditions of the gift vary from property to property. I’ve visited some that have private quarters in the house or on the grounds and others may be occupied for the lifetimes of family members. In the case of Buscot Park, I’ve discovered, the house and estate were given to the Trust in the 1940s with a lease-back arrangement to the family and is “administered” for the National Trust by the present Lord Faringdon, who apparently makes the rules.
The house sits near the Thames, across the river from Kelmscott Manor, the Cotswold home of William Morris. So it might come as no surprise to find an entire room hung with paintings by Edward Burne-Jones, Morris’s associate in the Arts and Crafts Movement, the painters among them known as the Pre-Raphaelites. The four original paintings, collectively ‘The Legend of Briar Rose’ were acquired and incorporated into the house by Alexander Henderson, later Lord Faringdon, shortly after their exhibition in London at Agnew’s Gallery in 1890. When Byrne-Jones visited the house and saw his panels displayed in the saloon he decided to paint 10 additional panels to fill in the space between them, making it one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen. I had just begun photographing the room when I was asked to desist. But here’s a taste.
The 2nd Lord Faringdon sold many of his grandfather’s acquisitions and added others. I continued through the house, also hung with the current 3rd Lord Faringdon’s eclectic additions to the collection, but the saloon with the Byne-Jones paintings were certainly the highlight for me. For anyone interested in the Arts & Crafts Movement in England and the Pre-Raphaelite painters, a visit to Buscot Park, combined with Kelmscott Manor across the Thames, will be particularly meaningful.
I left the house and began a circuit of the gardens, just coming into their own with May blooms. Climbing a stairway, I made a turn through an opening in the hedges and found myself confronted by a surprise, 17 life-size terracotta warriors, replicas of those in Xi’an, China. I had them to myself, no one to tell me I couldn’t, so I took pictures to my heart’s content.
After walking among the warriors I decided to return to Kelmscott Village, having forgotten while I was there earlier in the day with my friends, to visit the churchyard and the Morris family who occupy a corner there together. I lingered awhile then headed back north to my antique-filled room in Hidcote Boyce and dinner at the Ebrington Arms.
Reflecting the relationship of Buscot Park with the National Trust,
Lord Faringdon has his own website, in addition to that of the Trust’s.
Next week, closer to home outside Moreton-in-Marsh,
Chastleton House, also known as Wolf Hall.
Find all episodes of ‘PortMoresby in England’ here.