MEM23838 - South Park; 18th Century parkland southeast of Nettlecombe Court (Monument)


South Park was added to Nettlecombe Park in 1792 and was designed by John Veitch.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

"Deer park" marked on Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division 6 inch map. [1] Park created by Sir John Trevelyan (d.1755) probably because the old park (MSO7698) was low lying and more suited to meadow than pasture. It was extended by his successors to cover c.185 acres. Part of the park was landscaped by John Veitch in 1792. [2] Parks and Gardens Register includes the following: A late C18 park, incorporating extensive C16/C17 deer parks and wood pasture, around a country house. HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT… Although deer parks are known to have existed at Nettlecombe since the late C16, the first conclusive evidence of a designed landscape appears in an engraving, published in 1787, by W Angus which shows a view from the southeast depicting mature parkland clumps. The park was enlarged with the addition of the Great Park in 1755 and South Park in 1792, in which year Thomas Veitch of Exeter provided estimates for landscaping and the stable block was erected by John Trevelyan. These changes are shown on an estate plan of 1796 which also shows the new parsonage, Combe, built following the removal of the village of Nettlecombe from the valley and enclosed by the church's glebe land, separating it from the parkland. Further improvements to the estate were made by Sir John Trevelyan from c 1828. The influential garden writer, John Claudius Loudon (1783-1843), visited Nettlecombe in September 1842 and commented on the exploitation of the natural beauty of Nettlecombe in favourable terms. The park and woodlands of Nettlecombe Court shown on the 1st edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map of 1887 [3] remain largely the same today, although many of the parkland trees have been lost. In 1931 Sir Walter Trevelyan died and left Nettlecombe to his daughter Joan, wife of Garnet Wolsey, a noted artist. Joan died in 1943 and Garnet in 1966, since when the estate has been held in trust by the Wolsey family. In 1963 the Court was used by St Audries School for Girls but since 1967 the estate has been leased to the Leonard Wills Field Centre for ecological study by children and adults. In 1984 the site was recognised as a site of national importance for its lichen interest, being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1990. PARK The park extends from the house in all directions on rising ground. South Park is the major pasture area east and southeast of the Court, bordered to the south by glebe land that lies outside the park. The central part of South Park was added in 1792 and modified by Thomas Veitch of Exeter from that year with the removal of the village and old field boundaries and the planting of groups of trees on the knolls. Loudon wrote in 1842 of the estate parkland and wood-pasture: we were astonished and delighted with the view from the windows of the house, looking up the steep sides of the rounded hills that rose on every side, and which were mostly crowned with old oak woods Rounded hills covered with grass to the top, with winding valleys having sloping sides; the valleys more or less wide, and the sides of hills differing in degrees to steepness; occasionally with water in the bottom in the form of a small stream or brook ... Nettlecombe Court is a seat of great extent, and, though we took an extensive drive every day while we remained there, we did not see all the farm. The drives are exceedingly varied and beautiful, and exhibit fine combinations of parkland and woodland, comfortable cottages, and most substantial farm-houses and farmeries. [3,4] John Veitch of Exeter supplied estimates for landscaping the Great Park and South Park, work which was to be implemented that year. This included making a sunk fence all through Canal Field, to separate the cattle and deer, which still remains around parts of the northern and western boundaries of South Park, although its associated railing has disappeared. A new wire fence was added to the Park in 1860, when a round bar fence was moved from there to the Grove. in 1792, Sir John Trevelyan, 4th Baronet (1734-1828), asked Veitch for an estimate to undertake improvements at Nettlecombe, to extend the Great Park into South Park. Veitch’s work clearly belongs to the Brownian school of landscape design, rather than the more picturesque style he was using at Luscombe, and this may reflect the perhaps more traditional, mid-Georgian tastes of Sir John. Veitch made use of well-defined clumps on lumps; smooth, lawned combes with culverted drains; and a striking avoidance of coloured foliage across the park. The ponds and waters are all smooth, calm and controlled; even the top cascade is of an orderly design. The 1814 engraving, and the presence of Claude glasses at the Court until recent times, point to a clear appreciation of the picturesque qualities of the site, but Nettlecombe was clearly not in the vanguard of the picturesque debate. Almost certainly Veitch, when working at Nettlecombe, has to be seen as an improver in Brown’s mould, capable of creating beauty from smooth turf, rolling topography and ancient trees. However, this is what was required, perhaps, to blend the earlier landscape of the Great Park, which rolled up to the front door of the Court, with the new South Park. South Park is the major pasture area east of the Court. The far south end was glebe land outwith the later park, but possibly briefly within, when mapped by the Ordnance Survey, 1802; the land was exchanged with the Estate in 1790. The glebe land remains distinctive from the park due to the old field boundaries and field gutters in a lower meadow, Cross Close. The central part of South Park was the major area attributed to modification by Veitch, with the removal of the old village, the old field boundaries, with the limited knoll planting to emphasise the topography, and the construction of ha-has and deer walls, the southernmost of which followed the original lane to old Nettlecombe. The north boundary of this area was for a time (circa 1802-3) the field boundary opposite the church, now visible as a bank, the termination of a backfilled section of Veitch’s ha-ha, and a row of veteran trees, with an iron railing fence. The extent of John Veitch's South Park has been mapped using the information provided in Figure 3 of the 2016 Parkland Plan. [7,8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1962. 6" ST03NE.
  • <2> Monograph: Dunning, R. W. (editor). 1985. A History of the County of Somerset. Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research. 5. 112.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1887.
  • <4> Index: 2004. English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.
  • <5> Report: Nicholas Pearson Associates. 1992. Nettlecombe Park and Pleasure Grounds: Historic survey and restoration plan.
  • <6> Report: Nicholas Pearson Associates. 2003. Nettlecombe Park and Pleasure Grounds: Historic survey and restoration plan.
  • <7> Report: Unknown. 2016. Nettlecombe Parkland Plan. 24, 32-3, 42, 59-60, Figures 1 and 3.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. Catherine Dove, 18 April 2017.

External Links (0)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO7717
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: ST 03 NE37
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 975229
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33829



Grid reference Centred ST 0578 3718 (476m by 1048m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet ST03NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Record last edited

Apr 18 2017 10:37AM


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