By: Blue Badge Tour Guide - Anne Bartlett
There’s an intriguing historic house in the South Cotswolds which has an incredible story, I wonder whether you can identify it, as I tell you how this building was saved from destruction, then opened to the public in 1984 as a visitor attraction.
The house, surrounded by 700 acres of park land, was originally a hunting lodge built in the 16th century. Over the years with additions and alterations the building was converted into a very fine house. In 1949 the house and land was gifted to the National Trust by a Mrs Power Clutterbuck as a memorial to her only son and heir James who was killed in action during the 1st World War.
Money to maintain the house was not available in those days so the property was let to a variety of tenants over the next few years to provide income for the Trust, but the upkeep was neglected and by 1970 the house was empty and in a very sad state.
The cost of repair was going to be so expensive that a decision was reached to take the roof off this very gloomy and ghostly empty building, make it uninhabitable, and leave it as a ruin on the landscape.
Fortunately, Robert Parsons, an American architect and lover of England’s historic buildings was keen to settle in England, and heard about the dilapidated house.
He met with the National Trust, negotiated a very tiny rent, signed a repairing lease and using his own money, time, energy and expertise, moved in and set about restoring the house and the 7 acres of gardens that once surrounded it.
The restoration work is really impressive and, if you haven’t already guessed, the place I’m talking about, is Newark Park, Ozleworth nr Wotton-Under-Edge. It’s now considered an important Cotswold architectural gem and has been given a grade 1 listing.
Robert Parsons who left us this great legacy, died a few years ago, but fortunately his friend and colleague, continues the work with as much commitment and dedication.
The house, now a lovely home, is very interesting. The views from the garden room are probably some of the finest in the county, with a 50 mile sweep from the Marlborough Downs in the east to the Mendips in the West. The landscape of Wiltshire and Somerset that can be seen from the window probably hasn’t altered much in hundreds of years, even the conurbation of Bristol is hidden behind trees and there are no blots on the landscape like roads and power lines to spoil the effect.
The rediscovered 18th century landscaped garden can be enjoyed complete with carp pond, 18th century summerhouse castle folly and carriage drive.
As well as the house and garden, there’s a picnic area beyond the car park. and there are 3 different walks through the surrounding parkland that link with the Cotswold Way. Newark Park is open for the season on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays from 11 o’clock in the morning and closes at 5 o’clock.