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HER Number:MDV32577
Name:Arlington Court Park


The surviving gardens and parkland features are mainly late 18th and 19th century in date. They replaced a smaller park and agricultural landscape associated with the previous Arlington Courts that were situated to the south of the church.


Grid Reference:SS 609 401
Map Sheet:SS64SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishArlington
Civil ParishEast Down
Civil ParishLoxhore
Civil ParishShirwell
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishARLINGTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS64SW/19/4
  • Old Registered Parks and Gardens Ref (II)
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • GARDEN (Designed, XVIII to XIX - 1701 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Devon County Council, 1838-1848, Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848 (Cartographic). SDV349431.

Plots 501-504 are recorded as Outer Garden and Pinery, Walled Garden, Hot Houses and Flower Garden respectively.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 40-41 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Synge, P. M., 1977 - 1997, The Gardens of Britain, 21-23 (Monograph). SDV35790.

Thomas, G. S., 1979, The Gardens of the National Trust, 96-97 (Monograph). SDV61431.

Impett, R. M., 1981, Arlington Court, Devon (Ground Photograph). SDV339255.

Meller, H., 1985, Arlington Court, Devon (Monograph). SDV61428.

English Heritage, 1987, Arlington Court, Devon (Register of Parks and Gardens in England). SDV321635.

Arlington Court, 18th century landscaped park, woodland and agricultural estate, c 1400ha, with grounds round house of 10ha, with small mid-19th century garden. The main parkland to west and south of the house, with a wooded valley called the wilderness to the southwest. Extensive woodland beyond. A 5ha lake, was made in 1850 by damming the River Yeo. After partly silting up, it was dredged in 1980. Twin bridge piers, 1851, stand on each side, for a suspension bridge which remains incomplete. Formal gardens were probably laid out in 1865 and are backed by the wall of the kitchen garden. Three grass terraces, with central steps down. Top terrace has a conservatory, 1983, modelled on the centre section of a previous conservatory dated 1849. Herbaceous borders. Circular pond and fountain, flanked by two monkey puzzle trees which are replacements of the 19th century specimens felled in 1976. Exuberant clumps of rhododendron. Fine mature trees in grounds

Nature Conservancy Council, 1988, Arlington, Devon (Cartographic). SDV358769.

Gray, T., 1995, The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources, 34-35 (Monograph). SDV671.

The grounds were landscaped in the early 19th century, and surviving garden features include an ornamental lake with island, a steep wooded valley known as The Wilderness, two stone towers/piers built in 1851 for a suspension bridge, a conservatory and an 1887 obelisk. There are formal gardens with grass terraces to the east of the house.

Lovie, J., 2009, Arlington Court, Devon: Conservation Statement Prepared by Johnathan Lovie for the National Trust, 7, 26 (Report - non-specific). SDV352139.

The designed landscape was created by Colonel John Chichester (died 1823) as a setting for the new house which was built circa 1820. The process of developing the landscape had begun some thirty years earlier when Chichester rebuilt the mediaeval manor house south of the church and swept away a series of formal garden enclosures, possibly dating from the sixteenth or seventeenth century, in order to create a picturesque parkland setting for the house. Archaeological evidence of the earlier formal gardens survives in the paddock south of the church.
When the present house was built on a new site, the choice of location was intimately connected to the process of creating an enlarged picturesque landscape with areas of lawns and shrubbery around the house contrasting with the apparently ‘wild’ landscape of the park beyond. A series of drives was constructed in order to allow visitors to experience a sequence of changing views and ‘incidents’, and the agreeable sensations and emotions which these provoked. Views, both from the house and pleasure grounds across the wider designed landscape, and back towards the house and pleasure grounds from points within the wider landscape were a fundamental element of this aesthetic.
In addition to the ornamental landscape, Colonel Chichester appears to have constructed a series of productive gardens to the north of the new house. These may in part pre-date the construction of the house as the earlier productive gardens would have been removed when the mediaeval house was demolished circa 1790. The Flower Garden (now the Victorian Garden) was conceived as an ‘incident’ to be encountered when exploring the grounds; while behind it were ranged the Kitchen Garden, the Pinery (1814) and Outer Garden.
The development of the picturesque landscape was continued by the Colonel’s son, Sir John (died 1851), but most of his activity was concentrated on the area around the lake, and the formation of the Woolley Drive and suspension bridge as an extended approach to the house. Some of these projects, such as the suspension bridge and a proposed conservatory for the pleasure grounds remained unfinished at his death and were not revived when his son, Sir Bruce, attained control of the Estate in 1863.
During his twenty year ownership of the Estate, Sir Bruce made various changes, the most significant of which, in landscape terms, was the remodelling of the Flower Garden with the introduction of geometrical borders for seasonal bedding, treillage and other features popular in the mid-19th century.
Sir Bruce’s daughter, Rosalie Chichester, who assumed control of Arlington in the 1880s appears to have maintained the Estate substantially unchanged up to the First World War; thereafter changed financial and social circumstances coupled with her own particular interest in animals and wildlife led to a change in the management of Arlington. A ‘reserve’ was created in the park, and from the 1920s, the grounds at Arlington were opened to visitors. During the Second World War the non-productive areas of the gardens became increasingly neglected and overgrown as late 19th century planting grew to maturity.
Miss Chichester donated the entire Arlington Estate to the National Trust on her death in 1949.
Since 1949 the National Trust has had a significant impact on the gardens. In a climate of financial austerity various structures within the landscape were lost, including the outer ranges of the glasshouse in the Flower Garden, the ice house in the Wilderness, and the glasshouse in the Kitchen Garden; the pinery was allowed to fall into dereliction. From the late 1970s the Trust adopted a more historically-informed approach to the management of the gardens. In particular, the formal character of the Flower Garden was reinstated, the central section of the glasshouse range was rebuilt. More recently the Kitchen Garden has been reinstated.
The Arlington landscape was developed in the early nineteenth century using the conventions of the picturesque aesthetic. The gardens play a crucial role providing a designed setting for the house, and a transition from the more ordered lawns, shrubberies and pleasure grounds around it, to the more rugged and robust pleasures of the wider designed landscape. Considered as a whole, the Arlington landscape is a fine example of an early 19th century picturesque design. Regionally it sits alongside contemporary sites such as Endsleigh (1814), Eggesford (1822), Clovelly (pre 1829), and Glenthorne and Watersmeet (1829-30).

Berry, N., 2011, Arlington Court, Devon. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of the Arlington Estate (Report - Survey). SDV348171.

The surviving gardens and parkland features are mainly late 18th and 19th century in date, including the ornamental ponds in the Wilderness combe. They replaced a smaller park and agricultural landscape associated with the previous Arlington Courts that were situated to the south of the church.
See report for full details.

Historic England, 2019, National Heritage List for England, 1000687 (National Heritage List for England). SDV362730.

Arlington Court Park and Garden. Early and mid C19 pleasure grounds and gardens surrounding an early C19 mansion, set in a late C18 and early C19 parkland landscape with surviving early and mid C19 elements. See listing description for full details.
Date first listed: 12th August 1987

Sources / Further Reading

SDV321635Register of Parks and Gardens in England: English Heritage. 1987. Arlington Court, Devon. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. A4 Unbound. [Mapped feature: #87499 ]
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 40-41.
SDV339255Ground Photograph: Impett, R. M.. 1981. Arlington Court, Devon. Impett Slide Collection. Slide.
SDV348171Report - Survey: Berry, N.. 2011. Arlington Court, Devon. Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey of the Arlington Estate. National Trust Report. A4 Comb Bound + Digital.
SDV349431Cartographic: Devon County Council. 1838-1848. Tithe Mosaic, approximately 1838-1848. Digitised Tithe Map. Digital.
SDV352139Report - non-specific: Lovie, J.. 2009. Arlington Court, Devon: Conservation Statement Prepared by Johnathan Lovie for the National Trust. National Trust Report. Digital. 7, 26.
SDV35790Monograph: Synge, P. M.. 1977 - 1997. The Gardens of Britain. The Gardens of Britain. 1. Unknown. 21-23.
SDV358769Cartographic: Nature Conservancy Council. 1988. Arlington, Devon. a4 single Sheet + Digital.
SDV362730National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2019. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1000687.
SDV61428Monograph: Meller, H.. 1985. Arlington Court, Devon. National Trust Guidebook.
SDV61431Monograph: Thomas, G. S.. 1979. The Gardens of the National Trust. The Gardens of the National Trust. Unknown. 96-97.
SDV671Monograph: Gray, T.. 1995. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. The Garden History of Devon: An Illustrated Guide to Sources. Paperback Volume. 34-35.

Associated Monuments

MDV12107Parent of: Obelisk at Arlington Court (Building)
MDV20423Parent of: Two Bridge Piers at Arlington Lake (Monument)
MDV12106Related to: Arlington Court (Building)
MDV109695Related to: Arlington Court Lodge (Monument)
MDV106681Related to: Conservatory at Arlington Court (Building)
MDV109686Related to: Parkland to the 1790 Predecessor of Arlington Court (Monument)
MDV109684Related to: Parkland to the pre-1790 House at Arlington (Monument)
MDV106690Related to: Pinery at Arlington Court (Building)
MDV106013Related to: Site of Building in Church Paddock, Arlington Court (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5579 - Archaeological and Historic Landscape Survey, Arlington Court

Date Last Edited:Nov 20 2019 12:55PM