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CHER Number:12329
Type of record:Park and Garden
Name:Ramsey Abbey park and gardens


A 13th century park associated with the abbey, and later 19th century gardens.

Grid Reference:TL 293 851
Parish:Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire

Monument Type(s):

Full description

1. Ramsey Abbey - park, gardens, "Booths Hill", gatehouse etc. School buildings and grass. SAM, abbey and later features

2. It has been assumed in the past that a single large park, attached directly to the Abbey, stretched out from the village on the west side of the parish. However, examination of the records of relict earthworks (extant until the mid-20th century) indicate that only a small area of amenity/garden park was directly attached to the abbey, whilst a larger emparked area was centred on an area to the north (park number 40). Within documentary records it is difficult to separate out references to the two parks, although references to collection of timber and undergrowth would appear to refer to the larger park. This smaller "amenity park" is similar to those recorded at Kimbolton Park (park number 31) and Buckden Park (park number 8). In a rental of 1539/40, only one park is recorded, containing an area of woodland of 15 acres with an additional area of 20 acres of pasture - this would appear to be Ramsey Abbey Park. The situation is complicated by references from 1544 onwards to a "New Park" and between 1540 and 1580 to a "common park" - although the latter is likely to be a mis-translation for "pound".
Addendum: Dating of initial emparkment for both Ramsey parks, particularly park number 40, is now considered as being open to revision.

3. The original 13th century gateway to the south and an icehouse on a moated site near Booth's Hill still remain. An early 17th century map depicts orchards within rectangluar enclosures around the house. In the 19th century, gardens enclosed with a stone balustrade lay to the south and east of the house, and were later extended to the west. In shrubberies to the north was a pond and rockery, with a topairy avenue leading to the walled kitchen garden with a stone gateway by Blore. The gardens now contain mature specimen trees, lawns, a rustic garden pavillion and a stone fountain. The house is now used as a school, and the park is partly used for playing fields.

4. The 19th century park and gardens appear to have an origin in the landscape park or large grounds known to exist from as early as the 13th century. The earthworks associated with the park were still extant in the 20th century and included a raised bank around the outside of the precinct area. It is possible that this bank and other earthworks may be related to rebuilding in the 16th century. The walled garden within the Abbey School precinct appears to date from the late 18th or early 19th century and were not in existence at the time of the 1733 map of the estate, when the area was known as 'The Warren.' The garden has a grand entrance gate, from which the path divides the garden into a typical four-square plan, with the longest axis running east west. The outline and some structural remains of a glasshouse range on the south wall are visible.

<1> Way, T., 1998, Cambridgeshire Parks & Gardens Survey (Unpublished document). SCB15975.

<2> Way, T., 1997, A Study of the Impact of Imparkment on the Social Landscape of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire from c1080 to 1760, p252, park 42 or 39?? (Bibliographic reference). SCB18038.

<3> Cambridgeshire Garden Trust, 2000, The Gardens of Cambridgeshire: A Gazetteer, 148 (Bibliographic reference). SCB21348.

<4> Way, T., 1999, Historic Parks and Gardens in Cambridgeshire, p. 73 (Unpublished document). SCB21125.

Sources and further reading

<1>Unpublished document: Way, T.. 1998. Cambridgeshire Parks & Gardens Survey.
<2>Bibliographic reference: Way, T.. 1997. A Study of the Impact of Imparkment on the Social Landscape of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire from c1080 to 1760. p252, park 42 or 39??.
<3>Bibliographic reference: Cambridgeshire Garden Trust. 2000. The Gardens of Cambridgeshire: A Gazetteer. 148.
<4>Unpublished document: Way, T.. 1999. Historic Parks and Gardens in Cambridgeshire. p. 73.

Related records

01777Related to: Booth's Hill, Ramsey Abbey (Monument)
11953Related to: Late Saxon and Medieval remains, Ramsey Abbey School (Monument)
02781Related to: Medieval abbey, Ramsey Abbey (Monument)
02781bRelated to: Post Medieval house and school, Ramsey Abbey (Building)
02782Related to: Ramsey Abbey Gatehouse (Building)